Recipe: Authentic Texas chili for a cool winter afternoon

Yesterday was a cool winter day and Aggie basketball was on – what better day to make a batch of red? I decided to forego our usual recipe and use actual dried chiles for the first time, so I knew where to look for a recipe – the TexAgs Food & Spirits board. I used AustinAgChef’s recipe with just a few modifications. Here is his recipe:

AustinAgChef said:

2 lbs. chuck, diced
1 large yellow onion diced small
3 jalapenos diced small
1 head garlic minced
2 tbsp. tomato paste
1 large can crushed tomatoes
2 large cans tomato sauce
1 large tomato can of water
1 beer of choice (I used Shiner because I like cooking with it)
3 each dried ancho, New Mexico and guajillo chiles
2 each chile de arbol
1 tbsp. ground cumin
1 tbsp. ground coriander
1 tbsp. ground ancho powder
1 tbsp. ground chipotle powder
1 tbsp. chile powder
1 tbsp. paprika
1 tbsp. Mexican oregano
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
Kosher salt, to taste
Bacon fat, as needed

1. Remove stems and seeds from dried chiles and place in a small saucepot with enough water to cover them. Bring to a boil, place lid on pot and turn off heat. Allow chiles to steep for 15 minutes and then puree.

2. Season beef with kosher salt and set aside. Meanwhile heat some bacon fat in a cast iron skillet and brown meat in batches to ensure even browing. Remove from pan and set aside.

3. Once all meat is browned, drain excess fat out of pan and deglaze with about a 1/4 of the beer and scrape the bottom of the pan to remove the yummy goodness.

3. In a separate stockpot, heat about 3 tbsp. of bacon fat and add onions and jalapenos. Season with some salt and cook for 3-5 minutes and then add garlic and continue cooking for an additional 3-5 minutes being careful not to burn the garlic.

4. Once the aromatics have cooked, add meat and pan drippings to pot. Now add all of your spices and tomato paste. Let this cook for about 5 minutes to allow the spices and tomato paste to toast. Be sure to stir often to prevent burning of the tomato paste.

5. Once that spices have had time to toast, add the remaining part of the beer and reduce by half. After the beer has reduced, add your tomatoes, tomato sauce, chile puree and water.

6. Turn heat to low and allow the chili to simmer for 2-3 hours until the meat is tender. Adjust seasoning with salt to your liking and serve however you’d like.

If the consistency is too thick then add water a little at a time to get the desired consistency. If it is too thin, continue cooking down or thicken slightly with a little bit of masa harina mixed with water.

Also, if you want a spicier chili then add more cayenne and leave the seeds in the jalapenos.

Here are our modifications:

  • 1) I used 2lbs venison chili meat and cubed up a top sirloin for a little more meat. I like to have different textures of meat in my chili.
  • 2) I add LOTS of veggies to our chili to add fiber and make it a little healthier. By dicing them all up fine everything cooks in and you can’t even tell they are in there. We used two onions, a green bell pepper, a red bell pepper, and three stalks of celery. (I know, I know – CELERY in chili? But it adds texture and fiber and you can’t even tell it’s in there.)
  • 3) We skipped the jalapenos because my wife is allergic to them. Next time I’ll research what kind of dried peppers to add to kick the spice level up just one notch, because I like spicy foods.

Here are the ingredients (meat not pictured). I just used whatever tomato products were in the pantry.

Dry peppers purchased from HEB:

Using scissors, I removed the stems and seeds from the dried peppers and cut them up into smaller pieces. These went into a sauce pan and covered with water. Once it came to a boil I put a lid on it and set aside.

Chop chop while the meat was browning:

Sautee the veggies thoroughly. This is critical – if you don’t get them nice and soft before you combine everything, they won’t disappear into the mix as well.

To the veggies add 2 Tbsp tomato paste and your spices. Keep stirring to toast the spices – everything is smelling fantastic.

Meanwhile, the entire content of the saucepan with peppers goes into the food processor for a good puree:

Add it to the pot and stir it in. I added 1/3 of the beer and let it cook about five minutes, stirring often.

Now everything else goes in – meat, tomato products, the all important Shiner Bock (best beer for chili!), chile puree. We simmered it on low for three hours.

Best. Chili. Ever.

Some of us enjoyed ours over fritos, frito pie style! My wife likes her chili over rice, as is tradition in her native Hawaii. (You can sub cauliflower rice and keep everything no-carb!) My daughter enjoys it either way, just make sure there is plenty of cheese! Do NOT be intimidated by using dried chiles instead of chili powder – it was really easy to make that puree and your taste buds will thank you for the effort.

Now – go make some chili!

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