Texas Chili

It’s Superbowl Weekend and what better to go with the big game than a big bowl of homemade chili. I think everyone in Texas has a favorite chili recipe but no one seems to agree whether there should be beans or not. Well, I’ve had great chili both ways so I am not partial to one way or the other. I know some people say real Texas chili has no beans, but, I don’t agree. I’ve always had chili in Texas and I find it both ways, so that tells me there’s no “one way” to make your chili. The best thing is to find a simple recipe that you can go back to time and again. Also, your go-to recipe shouldn’t include a prepackaged pouch of spices, that’s just not right. This is just such a recipe and it does not have beans.

This recipe is very flexible and you can customize it to meet you heat tolerance and available spices. It’s loosely based on the chili recipe provided by Congressman J. J. Pickle from the 1oth District, TX. That would be the Austin area at the time he was in Congress. This also is the district that LBJ represented from 1937 until 1949.

This will serve 6 to 8. You can refrigerate or freeze any leftovers.

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Texas chili simmering

Ingredients

  • 3 lbs chuck roast, chili ground or small cubed
  • 3 tbls corn oil or vegetable oil
  • 3 large onions, chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, chopped
  • Hot water
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 4 tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 3 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tsp tabasco
  • 1 jalapeno, chopped
  • 1 8oz can tomato paste
  • 1 cup chopped tomatoes (or 1 8oz can of tomato sauce)
  • 3 tbsp masa harina (or flour)

Directions

Put the corn oil into a large, cast-iron pot. Add the meat, onions and garlic and sear over high heat, stirring constantly, until the meat turns light grey. Add the hot water to just cover the meat, onions and garlic. Then add the remaining ingredients EXCEPT or the masa harina. If needed, you can add a little more water if the mixture is too thick. Reduce heat and simmer for at least 2 1/2 hours. On a low temp, this can go for hours. Skim of the grease. If the chili is too thin, sprinkle with the masa harina and stir, then simmer for 15 additional minutes to thicken.

To serve this, put into a bowl and add your favorite condiments. I like to sprinkle it with cheddar cheese and some finely chopped onions. You can also add a spoonful of sour cream. This chili goes really well with some homemade cornbread or the Texas favorite Saltine crackers.

Black Bean Chili

I’ve been cooking this for years and we love it. I found it in a cookbook that I got for Curt back in 1997. The book is “Cooking with Too Hot Tamales” and I gave it to him for our first Christmas.

Here are the ingredients:

  • 2 cups dried black beans, rinsed, picked over and soaked overnight
  • 6 cups water, or more as needed
  • 1 cup beer (or 1/2 can)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 small red onions, diced
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 green bell pepper, cored, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 2 ribs celery, coarsely chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, coarsely chopped
  • 2-3 hot peppers diced – jalapeno or serrano peppers are best (if desired)
  • 2 zucchini, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded and diced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, cored, seeded and diced
  • 4 large garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 small bunch Italian parsley, leaves only, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup Chili Powder mix, recipe follows
  • 1 (12 oz) can diced plum tomatoes
  • 1 cup fresh or thawed frozen corn kernels
  • juice of 1 lemon

There is also a chili powder mix. Just mix these ingredients together and you can adjust this as you prefer:

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons ancho chili powder (or regular chili powder)
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoons dried oregano, crumbled
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt

There are a lot of things that go into this so take a list with you to the grocery store. I will also admit that you can add or delete ingredients as you see fit. I usually modify this on New Years Day to create a black-eyed pea soup. Also, it’s really helpful if you get all your ingredients ready before you start, otherwise you’ll be rushing to get them all cut and diced before you have to add them to mix.

Here are the general instructions:

First get your beans ready. You can use canned beans but why would you want to do that when beans are so easy to prepare. Follow the instructions on your beans to soak them and get them ready. Once you’ve soaked them, drain the beans and rinse under cold running water. In a large soup pot, combine the beans with the water and bring to a boil, skim off and discard the white scum that rises to the top.

Add the beer and return to a boil. You can use any kind of beer but Shiner is what I prefer. Reduce to a simmer and cook, covered, 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the beans are tender but not falling apart. Keep an eye on the beans and add water if you need to in order to keep the beans covered with water.

When you’re done, drain the beans in a colander and save the cooking liquid for use later.

While the beans are cooking your going to get the vegetables ready. The first part is essentially a sofrito base. To start, heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-low heat and then add the red onions and salt and pepper to taste and cook for a couple minutes to get them starting to soften. Once they start to soften, add the garlic, green pepper, celery, carrot and jalapeno peppers and cook about 5 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until these start to soften. Don’t over cook these vegetables because they are going to continue to cook while the mixture simmers. The original recipe has you cook them longer at this stage but the time you’re done, they are all mush, so I prefer to reduce the cooking time and keep the vegetable firmer.

Add the zucchini and red and yellow bell peppers and cook about 8 to 10 minutes longer, until all vegetables are nicely softened.

Now you are going to stir in 4 cups of the reserved bean cooking liquid, the vinegar, half of the parsley and the spice mix and bring to a simmer. Cover and simmer about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the drained black beans, tomatoes, corn and lemon juice and cook 15 more minutes. To make it more soupy, add the beans a little earlier so they are softer and start to break down.

Stir in the remaining parsley and serve. You can garnish this with sour cream, scallions and some Monterrey Jack cheese.