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Feb 10, 2009 09:08 PM

Texas Red - What is it?

My husband is from the Texas Panhandle and I'm from NM. I was just reading Bon Apetit (sp?) & they had great places in the US to get chile. They referenced Texas Red chile which I've heard of but never seen or tasted. We've traveled quite a bit through TX and only saw Texans eat hot jalepenos and that's about where it stops for spicy foods from what we've seen. We both love NM chile - red and green sauces and everything else. Just wondering what Texas Red really is and if anyone has any classic recipes. Of course I could Google this but would like some actual info, history, & maybe even some geographical references to where this stuff can actually be found from Chowhounds

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  1. I know it's chili - you can order a "bowl of red" - but unsure of its background.

    1. Texas Red is "red gravy" chili without beans. Beans are anathema in any "real" chili. Normally it is beef, tomatoes, cumin and other spices and chiles of various kinds, with perhaps a bit of dark chocolate and/or masa harina thrown in.

      For some very good, but very hot recipes, check out the CASI website (Chili Appreciation Society International). They post previous year's winning recipes.

      Most competition chilis do not use ground meat. Rather it is partially frozen and then diced about 3/8" cubes.

      6 Replies
      1. re: KiltedCook

        Pretty sure tomatoes are not used in the "bowl of red" either.

        1. re: KTinNYC

          I'm from Canada and afraid that I have yet to visit Texas and NM. With that said, I am certainly no expert, but I remember reading a fascinating story awhile back in a magazine (can't remember which) about "a good bowl of red".
          Besides the interesting story, there was a recipe for a basic 'red' (as opposed to 'green'). It was basically meat (not ground as Kilt mentions, but rather cubes) with spices and hydrated dried chilies.
          It was the re-constituted chilies, ground, which made it red. No tomatoes.

          As Bob points out, lots of passion, lots of variation

          1. re: KTinNYC

            KT in NYC, four out of the last five Terlingua CASI world champs used tomato sauce. Check it out at

            1. re: James Cristinian

              Those are all chili recipes but in my opinion and most of the posters in this thread there are no tomatoes in Texas Red which is a particular type of chili. Cincinnati chili contains cocoa and cinnimon but no one would claim that all chili contains these ingridients.

              1. re: KTinNYC

                The link I posted below for Texas Red has no tomato in it. Once you add tomato it becomes Chili, not Texas Red. Texas red is basically suet, beef, spices, chiles, beef broth, and that's about it.

          2. re: KiltedCook

            No tomatoes in real Texas Red.

            beef, chiles, and spices. I add onions and garlic, but never ever tomatoes.

          3. It's really just a slang expression for chili - in its purest (or should that read "purist"?) form, going back to the dish's possibly apocryphal cowboy origins, it's nothing more than beef and red chilis. Today there are hundreds of variations, and lots of people who are passionate to the point of absurdity on the subject of whether it's OK to add things like beans or tomatoes.

            1. You will see "texas red" referenced on the menu at Tolbert's restaurant in Grapevine, TX (and it does have meat). Frank X. Tolber was a co-founder of the Terlingua Chili Cookoff (grandaddy of all chili cookoffs). At this website, see "About Tolbert's".

              1. There's a commercial ground chile called Texas Red(also known as R.T. Original) but I don't know what's in it.

                Bet it's a ground chile made from mild New Mexican reds or Anaheims grown in Texas.