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Feb 16, 2013 03:45 AM

Your Best Texas Chili Recipe, please?

Hi all, I've been absent from the site these past 5 months because I'm full-time in nursing school. I've really missed this place and I've really-really missed leisurely cooking days whenever I want.

At any rate, I have a request: I'm hosing our study group tomorrow, and I'm trying to use these opportunities to cook something yummy for the group. Last week, I made Grace Parisi's spice-roasted ribs with apricot glaze from Food and Wine:

WOW. That recipe is a keeper, although I wanted to note that although the recipe calls for 7 lb or 3 racks of baby back ribs, I used just over 5 lb of ribs (2 racks) and there was just enough spice rub and glaze for them. But it's a wonderful recipe. The people I fed fell all over them, so you KNOW it's good.

Tomorrow, it's chili, but since one of my study partners can't stand beans, I thought I'd try Texas chili (sans beans). I have only ever made chili with beans and a tomato base, so I'd love some suggestions for those of you out there who are well-adept with the beanless kind.

I've read that a base made from dried, soaked chilies instead of tomato is pretty standard. Any suggestions? Thanks in advance!

Edit: I'm wondering if this recipe rings true to those of you who are knowledgeable:

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  1. I guess no one has strong feelings about Texas chili.

    1. A few concepts:

      o Chili puree, not powder (most important)

      o Small cubes of beef, not ground (tri-tip is the choice of the chili cook-off crowd as it is not too greasy)

      o Beef suet for browning, not oil

      o Garlic, no onions (serve chopped or pickled onions along side)

      o Mexican oregano, not Greek

      o Toasted and freshly ground cumin seed, not prepackaged powder

      o Beef stock or beef stock + beer for the liquid, not tomato juice ( I do like to add some tomato paste)

      o pinto beans on the side

      1. Here's my favorite recipe. Long before there were the brown bags of his mix in the grocery store, there was Carroll Shelby's scratch-made competition chili...

        The only thing I've changed is to sub 1 lb. of beef round steak, cut in 1/2” chunks, for the ground round. The ground meat is fine if you don't have the time or inclination to chop your own, but I like my chili a little more chunky.

        1. I cut a brisket into cubes of about 1", brown in bacon fat with minced onions, add a little Mexican oregano, several ounces of fresh high quality chili powder, a few glugs of bourbon, and a very small amount of tomato sauce. I add hotter peppers to taste.

          1. Here's the motherlode, recipes from CASI world championships held Terlingua, Texas every fall. No beans allowed.


            4 Replies
            1. re: James Cristinian

              That's actually extremely interesting. I'm going through the winning recipes and almost all of them are using ingredients that would make many Chowhounds (me included!) blanch. Commercial pre-made chili powders instead of custom grinds, bullion cubes instead of homemade stock, ground meat instead of cubes, etc.

              1. re: nokitchen

                I've read the contestants follow the leader when it comes the cut/grind of meat. What do the judges prefer, or at least appear to prefer. At one time it was the small dice.

                Many contestants prefer a powders because of their consistency. Puree from freshly hydrated whole chiles can vary quite a bit in heat.

                Rules may prevent contestants from using some things:
                "4. No ingredient may be pre-cooked in any way prior to the commencement of the official cookoff. The only excep-
                tions are canned or bottled tomatoes, tomato sauce, peppers, pepper sauce, beverages, broth and grinding
                and/or mixing of spices. "
                Though your homemade stock should fit the 'broth' category. But with all the other spices, I wonder whether the flavor of a homemade stock would be noticeable. A beef stock would be more apparent in a lightly seasoned French style stew.

              2. re: James Cristinian

                I made one of those recipes once and it was overpowering with flavor. Those recipes, all great, are designed to impress a judge with a small amount of chili, hence the flavor overload. So now when I make a competition chili recipe I leave out the last stage, mabye the last two stages and it is then edible if you want a bowl full.

                1. re: Enigma3

                  Yes, picture a group of people sitting around a table tasting a half dozen stews, taking plastic spoonfuls from anonymous Styrofoam cups. The meat, if cubed, must be small enough to fit those spoons. A full bodied stock isn't going to stand out.