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Speaking of Chili

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While reading a recent thread on chili it made me think of something I've been struggling with lately: A few weeks ago my DH and I went to a local tavern and had the best chili we've ever had. It was a Texas style, thick, rich with flavor with large chunks of beef. I definitely could sense a bit of a coffee flavor.

Anyway, I’ve been trying to figure out how to recreate this dish, and one thing is bothering me...the meat. I asked the owner to give me some hints and all he'd tell me is "steak tips." That term seems so ambiguous to me that I don't know where to begin. It obviously has to be something that can handle stewing for a lengthy period, so that eliminates many cuts. The meat wasn’t at all fatty, and seems to have a different texture than stew meat.

Any suggestions or thoughts?

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  1. Steak tips are usually sirloin steak, but it could be a good quality round steak would work, too. As a matter of fact, a lot of recipes call for round steak.

    3 Replies
    1. re: danhole

      I can tell you this meat was so tender, and not the least bit stringy.

      Can sirloin stand up to long simmer? I was under the impression it couldn't.

      1. re: kkak97

        If you google "Chili with steak" you will see recipes that recommend sirloin steak, and others. I think the trick is browning the steak before you add the other ingredients. Maybe the recipe you tasted didn't have a long simmer. Some don't.

        1. re: kkak97

          I usually use chuck, but I know a restaurant that makes the same style chili that you described, and on the menu they describe the meat they use as 'sirloin'. I would guess it is from somewhere on the primal cut that you don't ordinarillary see in the supermarket (at least in the NYC area), possibly the tri-tip.

          Here is a budget-concious thought, though: every now and then I will see a piece of round that is unusually marbeled for the cut, sold as "London broil" but with steeply angled sides (obviously from the narrowing end of the primal cut in that instance)- it is very cheap but makes a great braise. I've used it in chili to great success though I wouldn't recommend just blindly using anything called 'round' without looking towards the marbling first.

      2. Aren't they using Tri-Tip for Texas chili, these days? Lean, but with enough fat and flavor to really make a great chili.

        2 Replies
        1. re: dhedges53

          That's what I was going to say (tri-tip). But like Danhole, it doesn't have to simmer for a long period. Another important point is NOT to buy the stew meat in the grocery store. Buy a steak/roast and cut it up yourself. Definitely brown it first.

          1. re: lynnlato

            Thanks everyone. I'll give the tri-tip a shot.