August 14, 2010

Two chili recipes

Neither of the two following recipes are contest chili. These are for meals at home or to serve at the family reunion. Contest chili is a whole 'nother ball of wax. 

Regardless of contest or home consumption, Texas chili has two rules… one is hard and fast, the other not so much so.

RULE 1 – Beans are beans and chili is chili. Both make a good meal, but the two do not mix in the same pot.

RULE 2 – Tomato plants did not fare well in the desert southwest, so tomatoes don’t really belong in chili. The contest judges don't always agree with this assessment.

Recipe #1 – Easy Texas Chili

WARNING: Easy chili won’t be as good, but folks will still enjoy it. Most are accustomed to the crappy chili served at  restaurants, so this will be nectar to them. Best of all you can build it in an afternoon. Of course, like any chili, it would still be better if after cooking it was refrigerated overnight, reheated and served the next day.

  • 3 lbs. of beef (pork, venison or a mixture if you choose, but Texas chili is beef)
  • ½ pound smoked bacon (NOT maple cured!)
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 2 Tb. ground cumin (more or less to taste)
  • 1-2 Tb. chili powder (I like Gebhardts)
  • 2-4 cloves garlic, minced (more or less to taste)
  • Water
  • Salt and pepper to taste, but do not salt until AFTER the mixture is cooked

Cube the beef into small chunks, set aside. Chop up the bacon into ½” bits. Heat a large cast iron pot over a medium-high burner. Fry bacon until not quite crisp, remove and set aside leaving the fat in the pot. Add the beef to the pot and simmer in the bacon fat until nicely browned. Remove the beef, reduce the heat to medium and add the bacon back into the pot, then add onions and garlic and stir until onions are clear. Continue stirring as you add cumin and chili powder. Return the beef to the pot as you continue stirring, then pour in enough water to cover the mixture with about an inch to spare. Increase heat back to medium-high and bring to a boil. Allow to simmer slowly until the mixture is reduced to a bubbling slurry (about an hour and a half). Salt to taste.

Recipe 2 – Mulebreath’s Hell on the Bravo chili

Good chili isn’t easy. Good chili is time consuming and really clutters up a kitchen. Good chili is built over several steps, not simply cooked. The steps are called “dumps,” because the ingredients for each step are prepared, combined, then “dumped” into the pot at the appropriate time.

You are going to need two pots; one heavy skillet and one deep pot. I prefer cast iron for both, but glass or stainless works.


  • ½ pound smoked bacon (NOT maple cured!)
  • 3 pounds beef (not high cuts. Cheap meat is just fine for chili)

  • 2 large Texas 1015’s (if you don’t know what that is, you’re a savage)
  • 4 fat jalapenos (substitute serranos for spicier, or habaneras for hemorrhoid removal)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced (not crushed. Crushing is uncivilized)

  • 1 quart beef stock
  • 1 six-pack Ambar Dos Equis, Negra Modelo, Indio, Leon, or any good Mexican dark beer
  • water

  • ¼ cup dried, ground chili peppers, preferably ancho or pasilla (NOTE: this is not chili powder)
  • 1 Tb ground coriander seed
  • 3 Tbs ground cumin seed
  • 2 Tbs crushed Mexican oregano
  • ½ tbsp white pepper
  • Sea salt (not iodized)


The night before starting this project open one of the beers. Leave it open and sitting out overnight. It should be warm and flat when you start cooking.

Start heating the skillet over medium-high heat. While heating, chop or coarse grind the bacon and the beef into ½” or smaller bits. Coarse chop the onion and mince the garlic, keep separate and set aside. Add bacon to the skillet and fry until not quite crisp, remove and set aside leaving the fat in the pan. Add the beef to the bacon fat and simmer until nicely browned. Remove the beef and set aside. Add ½ of your garlic and ½ of the onion to the bacon fat, simmering until the onion is clear. Remove from the fat a set aside.

1st dump: add beef stock to the big pot over medium-high heat. Pour in what is left of your bacon fat, add remaining ½ of your garlic and ½ of the onion, bring to a boil and reduce to simmer for ½ hour. Go to 2nd dump.

2nd dump: Add coriander, cumin, oregano, and white pepper. Simmer 10 minutes, then go to dump 3.

3rd dump: Add ground chilies and simmer another ½ hour, stirring frequently. Go to 4th dump.

4th dump: Add bacon, beef, remaining garlic and onion, along with your flat beer. Split the jalapenos and toss them in. Simmer another 2 hours at medium-low heat, stirring often to prevent scorching. Add salt to taste. and water as needed to maintain consistency. Remove the pot from the fire and allow to cool. Refrigerate overnight, re-warm (add water to adjust consistency if need be) and serve. To pretty it up some, toss in a cupped palm full of fresh, chopped red and green peppers, then serve before they have time to soften too much. Habaneras add a nice orange color too, but those are not for the faint of heart.

5th dump: You may have noticed this process takes somewhere north of three hours, with probably another couple of hours waiting for the pot to cool enough to go in the ice box... and then you have to wait until the next day to eat. 


But there is salvation. Using that same mathematical acuity you used earlier, you may have noticed that one subtracted from six leaves five… and figured out what to do with the remainder of that six-pack.



Old NFO said...

Both of those sound good :-) I'll add them to my stash of good recipes and trot them out this fall when we have one of our little get togethers! Thanks!!!

labrys said...

The second recipe temps me most. Since the temps are quite nasty for our normally temperate Nor'west, I may get this started and do the crock pot routine with it---as un-traditional as that may be. I love Negro Modelo....and it is perfect beer weather.

Anonymous said...

Heh. Re: Recipe 2. Be easier to smear some honey on your backside and go sit on a fire ant hill . . .
I'm not nearly as tough as I used to be . . .
But an interesting recipe, nevertheless.

Mule Breath said...

jeg, make and consume some of the chili first. You'll get much the same results and get rid of the ant hill at the same time.