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June 16, 1988|BARBARA HANSEN | Times Staff Writer

Chili American-style is a spicy mixture that can show up almost anywhere--in a bowl or a burrito, over pasta, on top of rice or smothering a burger in a bun.

The following recipes explore these approaches in an attempt to vary the fare of chili lovers. The first is a topping for pasta from "Pasta Presto" (Contemporary Books: $7.95). Author Norman Kolpas, who has compiled recipes for 100 quick sauces in this book, notes that chili con carne over pasta is a popular dish at American diners. He suggests serving the chili over spaghetti, macaroni or pasta shells, which are appropriate carriers for sturdier sauces.

Everyone knows the chili size--a burger topped with chili. But chili itself can also be a sandwich filling. Stuffed into hollowed loaves of French bread, it makes a hearty, informal main dish.

Although the beans in chili are usually whole, another recipe combines chili meat with refried beans and wraps the combination in cornmeal pastry for a take-off on the popular South American empanada.

Trendy black beans are showing up in chili these days, but it's more customary to use pink, red or pinto beans, which are the choices for a party chili to serve over rice.


2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil

1/3 pound well-fatted bacon, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-wide strips

1/2 pound ground beef

3 medium cloves garlic, crushed

2 medium onions, finely chopped

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder

1 1/2 teaspoons cayenne

1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes

2 (8 1/4-ounce) cans kidney beans, drained

2 teaspoons sugar

2 teaspoons dried oregano

3/4 teaspoon salt

8 drops hot pepper sauce

In large skillet or saucepan, heat oil over moderate heat. Add bacon and saute until very lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Add beef, garlic and onions. Cook until beef has lost all its pink color and left a brown glaze on the pan, about 10 minutes.

Add cumin, chili powder and cayenne. Cook about 1 minute longer. Add tomatoes, breaking up with hands. Stir and scrape bottom of pan with slotted spoon to dissolve pan deposits into sauce. Stir in kidney beans, sugar, oregano, salt and hot pepper sauce. Boil gently until thick, 15 to 20 minutes. Serve over spaghetti, macaroni or pasta shells. Makes 4 to 6 servings.


2 teaspoons instant minced onion


1 1/2 pounds ground beef

2 teaspoons chili powder

2 teaspoons flour

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon dried oregano

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1 (8 1/4-ounce) can refried beans

1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce

1/2 cup shredded Cheddar or Jack cheese

Cornmeal Pastry

1 egg

Combine onion and 1/4 cup water. Brown ground beef in large skillet. Pour off drippings. Combine chili powder, flour, salt, cumin, oregano and garlic powder. Sprinkle over beef. Add refried beans, tomato sauce and onion mixture, stirring to combine. Cook slowly 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in cheese. Cool.

Prepare Cornmeal Pastry. Roll pastry out on lightly floured surface to measure 15x14 inches. Cut two 15x1/2-inch strips. Twist each separately, cover and reserve for topping. Transfer remaining pastry to baking sheet. Place meat mixture lengthwise in 5-inch-wide strip down center of pastry. Bring long sides of pastry together on top, overlapping slightly at seam, and press to close. Press ends firmly together and pinch into a twist or rope edge. Place reserved twisted pastry strips along each side of center seam.

Beat egg with 1 teaspoon water. Brush over surface of pastry. Cut 7 (1 1/2-inch) crosswise slits on top of pastry on each side. Bake at 375 degrees 35 to 40 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before cutting. Makes 8 servings.

Cornmeal Pastry

1 1/2 cups flour

1/3 cup cornmeal

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup lard

5 tablespoons cold water

Combine flour, cornmeal and salt. Cut in lard with fork or pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add water 1 tablespoon at a time, mixing quickly and evenly until dough just holds in ball when pressed.


2 (8-ounce) cans tomato sauce

1 (15-ounce) can kidney beans, drained

1/2 cup finely chopped onion

1/2 to 1 teaspoon chili powder

1 pound lean ground beef

1 egg

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 small clove garlic, crushed

Shredded Cheddar cheese

4 hamburger buns, toasted

Additional chopped onion

Combine tomato sauce, beans, 1/4 cup chopped onion and chili powder in saucepan. Heat mixture, mashing a few beans to thicken slightly. Keep warm.

Combine meat, egg, salt, pepper, remaining 1/4 cup onion and garlic, mix well and shape into 4 patties. Brown patties in skillet. When patties are cooked to desired doneness, pour off excess fat. Add bean mixture to skillet and sprinkle with cheese. Serve in toasted buns, topping with additional chopped onion if desired. Makes 4 servings.


1 tablespoon oil

1/4 cup chopped onion

1 clove garlic, minced

1 1/2 pounds ground beef

2 1/2 teaspoons chili powder

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 (1-pound 13-ounce) can tomatoes

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