There’s perhaps no other single food group that is more Texan than chili, and over the years we’ve tested many recipes and talked to many Tex-perts on what constitutes a real big bowl of red. Here are our favorite chili recipes from the Dallas Morning News archives.
T.J. Cannon won the world-famous Terlingua International Chili Championship in 2012, beating out 304 other competitors. Contest chili is required to have a smooth gravy, which is why you’ll not see any fresh onions, tomatoes, etc., included here. Cannon uses garlic powders and chili powders for consistency, so her chili can taste the same every time. What you need:
▪ Two pounds ground chuck.
▪ One (14.5-ounce) can beef broth.
▪ One (14.5-ounce) can chicken broth.
▪ One (eight-ounce) can tomato sauce.
▪ Two serrano peppers.
▪ First dump (recipe follows).
▪ Second dump (recipe follows).
In a four-quart pot, brown your meat, then drain it and set it aside. Remove all grease from the pot and add all of the liquid.
Poke holes in the serranos with a sharp knife and add them to the pot. Bring the liquid and peppers to a boil; add your first set of spices (first dump) and the meat. Boil on medium high for 25 minutes or until meat is tender and then turn off. Squeeze the juice from the peppers into the pot and discard the peppers.
Allow chili to rest for 30 minutes and then bring back to a boil, adding more broth if needed. Add the second dump of spices and boil over medium heat for 20 minutes. Check for salt, heat and chili powder flavor; adjust if necessary.
Makes about six servings.
First dump: Two teaspoons dried onion powder, quarter teaspoon cayenne, two teaspoons each dried beef and chicken bouillon, quarter teaspoon salt, one and a half teaspoons dried garlic powder, two tablespoons light chili powder (such as McCormick) and two teaspoons dark chili powder (such as Mexene).
Second dump: One tablespoon cumin, half a teaspoon dried garlic powder, eighth of a teaspoon Hot Stuff seasoning (available online, or use a mix of black pepper and cayenne), eighth of a teaspoon cayenne, two tablespoons light chili powder, one tablespoon dark chili powder, eighth of a teaspoon brown sugar and one package Sazon Goya seasoning (optional).
Mary Ivins, who died in 2007, was a world-class newspaper columnist, author, political commentator and humorist. What you need for her chili:
▪ One tablespoon bacon drippings.
▪ Three yellow onions, chopped.
▪ One large green bell pepper, chopped.
▪ Two celery stalks, chopped.
▪ Four garlic cloves, minced.
▪ Three pounds coarsely ground chuck.
▪ One (12-ounce) can beer.
▪ One (eight-ounce) can tomato sauce.
▪ Four tablespoons chile powder.
▪ One tablespoon ground cumin.
▪ One tablespoon dried oregano.
▪ One large bay leaf.
▪ One teaspoon dry mustard.
▪ Two cups beef stock.
▪ Salt and pepper to taste.
Heat bacon drippings in a heavy-bottomed stockpot and saute onions, peppers, celery and garlic until vegetables soften. Add chuck and stir until it browns. Add beer, tomato sauce, chile powder, cumin, oregano, bay leaf, mustard and beef stock and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer, covered, about two hours. Check periodically to see if more liquid is needed. If so, add water. Add salt and pepper and adjust seasoning. Just before serving, remove bay leaf.
Makes four to six servings.
Chile con carne
Blogger Kelly Yandell says that she always used chili powder in her chili until she was inspired by a recipe in “Wild About Chili” (out of print) by former Dallas Morning News food editor Dotty Griffith. The recipe used whole dried chiles. What you need:
▪ Three dried ancho chiles.
▪ Three dried de arbol chiles.
▪ One dried Japones chile.
▪ Three jalapenos, stems and seeds removed (wear rubber gloves).
▪ Two heaping teaspoons ground cumin.
▪ Four cloves garlic, peeled.
▪ One (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes, with juice.
▪ One onion, quartered.
▪ One teaspoon dried oregano, preferably Mexican.
▪ Two teaspoons salt.
▪ Three to three and a half pounds sirloin tips, coarsely ground for chili.
▪ Quarter cup masa.
▪ Shredded cheddar cheese and chopped onions for garnish (optional).
To prepare the dried chiles: Wearing rubber gloves, cut each of them open and discard the seeds and any membranes that are easily removed. Place the chiles in a small pan with just enough water to cover them. Over medium heat, simmer the chiles and water for 15 minutes. Remove the chiles from the water, reserving the water, and transfer to a food processor.
Add the jalapenos, cumin, garlic, tomatoes (with their juice), onion, oregano and salt to the food processor. Process until smooth.
In a large stockpot, combine the meat and the tomato-chile puree. Add just enough water (not the reserved chile water) to cover the meat, and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cover the pot and cook for one and a half hours. If necessary, add more water, just enough to keep the meat covered.
After one and a half hours, skim off any excess fat with a large, flat spoon and discard. Mix the masa with enough water to make a smooth paste. Slowly add the mixture to the chili while stirring. Simmer the chili over very low heat for another 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Taste the chili and season as necessary with salt and the reserved chile water. Serve with shredded cheddar cheese and onions if desired.
Makes about six servings.
This recipe is credited to Lady Bird Johnson, who on occasion had real Texas chili flown to the White House. What you need:
▪ Four pounds chili meat.
▪ One large onion, chopped.
▪ Two cloves garlic, chopped.
▪ One teaspoon ground oregano.
▪ One teaspoon cumin seeds.
▪ Six teaspoons chili powder (more, if desired).
▪ One and a half cups canned whole tomatoes.
▪ Two to three generous dashes liquid hot pepper sauce.
▪ Salt to taste.
▪ Two cups hot water.
Place meat, onions and garlic in large, heavy skillet or Dutch oven. Cook until light colored. Add oregano, cumin seed, chili powder, tomatoes, hot pepper sauce, salt and water. Bring to boil, lower heat and simmer about one hour. Skim off fat during cooking. Makes eight servings.
There are acceptable substitutes (or additions if some like it hot) for the hot pepper sauce, including fresh jalapenos or cayenne pepper. And the Johnson definition of acceptable chili meat is coarsely ground round steak or well-trimmed chuck.
In a departure from the conventional, the slow-talking garden designer and retired mathematician decided to retool the Texas classic. His chili contains no masa (ground corn), no exotic chile blends, no beer, no secret spices. In truth, it bears more kinship to a Mexican beef soup than a Terlingua prize winner.
Yet when Schaar proclaims that, “After you taste this, you’ll never make it your way again,” he’s not just doing a Texas swagger. His chili — a simple stew of tender beef bites in a chile-infused, beefy broth redolent with cumin, garlic and oregano — is that good. What you need:
▪ Half a cup lard or bacon fat (divided use).
▪ Three tablespoons dried piquin chiles (see note).
▪ Three pounds grass-fed beef stew meat.
▪ Half a white or sweet onion, chopped.
▪ Half a cup minced garlic.
▪ Quarter cup dried, stemmed and chopped Mexican or Greek oregano (divided use, see ingredients notes).
▪ One (32-ounce) carton beef broth.
▪ Half a teaspoon salt.
▪ One (four-ounce) jar Whitson’s Moist Chile Seasoning (ancho paste).
▪ One heaping tablespoon ground cumin.
▪ Limes, for serving.
Heat quarter cup lard or fat in a Dutch oven or other heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Add the piquins briefly to the hot fat. After a few moments, remove and discard the skins; some of the seeds will remain in the fat.
In batches, sear the meat in the hot fat. Do not let the pieces of meat touch or the meat will stew in its own juices instead of searing. Remove the pieces as they sear to drain on a brown paper sack or paper towels.
Remove the hot pot from the fire for three to four minutes to partially cool. Place it back over the medium-high flame and add remaining lard or fat. Add the onion and saute two to three minutes. Add the garlic and continue to saute. Add half the oregano, the drained meat and broth. Add the salt and stir in the ancho paste. Sprinkle the cumin over the chili stew, add remaining oregano and stir to blend.
Bring the stew to a boil and let it boil for several minutes. Reduce heat and simmer for two to three hours, uncovered, stirring occasionally. Turn off the heat. Let the chili cool. Then, refrigerate overnight.
When ready to serve, remove chili from the refrigerator. Skim and discard the fat, which will have risen to the top. Heat chili and serve with two lime quarters to squeeze over each serving.
Makes four to six servings. Note: You can substitute habanero or serrano chiles for the piquins.