Michelle’s Chili con Carne with Bacon & Sofrito

chile con carne

This chili con carne recipe has morphed many times, says one of our favorite cocineras Michelle Ezratty Murphy. The Phoenix-area based home cook is an expert at making the Puerto Rican family recipes of her husband Pat, so it’s no surprise she added a Boricua touch to this classic crowd pleaser.

“I am always adding and taking out ingredients with this chili con carne, leaving it alone, and then starting over again,” says Michelle. ”But recently, I have been substituting a full cup of sofrito, full-on Boricua style, for the onions, peppers and garlic. I just love how it makes the chili taste.”

Sofrito, for the unitiated, is the gotta-have starter base used in just about every traditional Puerto Rican dish. It’s made with sauted green and red bell peppers, onion, tomato, lots of garlic, culantro and/or cilantro, and ají dulce. You take one bocado of Michelle’s chile and the unmistakably sweet and deep flavors of the sofrito shine.

“Now of course, not everyone has access to the sweet Caribbean peppers called ají dulce, which is what makes authentic sofrito taste so good,” says Michelle.

You have two options, Michelle says. One: substitute another pepper for the ají. Many cooks without a good Puerto Rican market nearby opt to use a long, pale-green sweet cubanelle pepper, easily available in mainstream grocery stores. Two: leave it out. ”Even without ají or the sofrito, this recipe is still so delish—especially when served with a side of fresh honey cornbread or stuffed in a fluffy baked potato topped with melted cheese and bacon.”

”Now that I made you hungry,” grins Michelle, ”get started making a big batch of this family chili recipe, which in my house usually sits in a big cast-iron Dutch oven on the stove—so my family can serve themselves all day long.”

Michelle, gracias for submitting this to the chile con carne Familia Kitchen recipe contest. Michelle is one of our most active home cooks and the winner of Your Family’s Favorite Picadillo, which relies on classic Puerto Rican flavors like sofrito (yes, again. It really is used in everything) and achiote oil. Michelle calls her picadillo recipe ”the Puerto Rican sloppy joe.”

To try more of her Boricua dishes, check out Michelle’s double-fried-plantain tostones with garlicky mojo sauce; pastelón, the Puerto Rican lasagna; her step-by-step guide to baking melty quesitos, and her contest-winning eat-every-last-bit-of-pegao arroz con pollo family recipe.

Hungry to Try This Chile con Carne with Bacon & Sofrito?

Michelle’s Chile con Carne with Bacon & Sofrito

Recipe by Michelle Ezratty Murphy
4.3 from 4 votes
Cuisine: Puerto Rican


Prep time


Cooking time




  • 2 lbs lean ground chuck or sirloin

  • 16 oz sliced bacon, cut into cubes

  • 28 oz San Marzano whole tomatoes, canned

  • 6 oz tomato paste

  • 1 large onion, chopped

  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped

  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped

  • 1 yellow bell pepper, chopped

  • 12 garlic cloves, finely chopped

  • 1 1/2 Tbsp oregano

  • 1 Tbsp cumin

  • 1 Tbsp sweet paprika (not smoked)

  • 1 Tbsp basil

  • 2 tsp garlic powder

  • 2 tsp onion powder

  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper (or more if you want it spicier)

  • 1 tsp salt

  • 1 tsp black pepper

  • 1 cup beef broth


  • In a Dutch oven, or heavy pot with a lid, fry chopped bacon on medium heat until all the fat has rendered and the bacon is crispy.
  • Transfer the cooked bacon on to a plate lined with paper towel. Remove all the rendered fat from the pot except for 1 Tbsp.
  • To the pot with the rendered fat, add the onions, peppers and garlic. Stir well and sauté on medium heat until the onions are translucent.
  • Add the ground beef to the pot with the onions, peppers and garlic. Cook and crumble the beef while stirring well to combine all ingredients.
  • Once the beef is cooked, add the crispy bacon back in to the pot. Pour in the canned whole tomatoes with all the juices, followed by all the herbs and spices, tomato paste, salt and pepper.
  • Stir to combine well, and let simmer for about 5 minutes on medium heat.
  • Pour in the beef broth ¼ cup at a time. You may not end up using the full cup of broth. Add just enough so that the chili is the consistency that you like. Cover the pot and simmer on low heat for 2 to 4 hours. The longer you simmer the chili, the thicker it will be.
  • Once the chili has thickened to your liking, serve warm in a bowl garnished with shredded jack cheese, sour cream and chopped scallions with a side of corn bread. You can also bake a large russet potato, cut it in half, lightly fluff the potato in the skin, and scoop in some chili, topped with bacon and cheese.


  • Michelle recommends buying tomato paste in a tube instead of the can—it is less metallic tasting.

Photo: Michelle Ezratty Murphy

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