Authentic Chili Recipe, a.k.a. Bowl of Red

by Donna on January 22, 2013

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authentic chile recipe red chile beef

“Chili concocted outside of Texas is usually a weak, apologetic imitation of the real thing. One of the first things I do when I get home to Texas is to have a bowl of red. There is simply nothing better.” – Lyndon Baines Johnson, 36th president and chili lover

A classic is a classic for a reason.

With the temperature in the single digits where I live, we call this Chili Weather. So, I was craving chili, and not just any chili. I wanted to go back to chili’s roots as much as possible and see what all the fuss is about.

The Hubs, who has been a dedicated chili fanatic for all 35 years of our marriage, ate a bite of this and sat in silence for about 60 seconds. For dramatic effect, perhaps?

“This is the best bite of chili I have ever eaten,” he said without fanfare.

And I have to agree. Turns out, it helps to go back to the real-deal authentic recipe to learn why it became a classic.

This is not only the best beef chili I have ever eaten, it may be up there in the top ten bites of food I have ever eaten. Rich, deep and flavorful. Silky, tender meat chunks with onions, chiles and garlic. That’s it. Amazingly satisfying.

Chili is said to have been born in San Antonio, Texas and spread like wildfire in the mid-1850′s. Truly authentic chili should not contain beans or tomatoes, typical ingredients today.

I mostly followed the lead of the Chili Queen (Jane Butel), for my approach.

Chili is one of those recipes which is mostly cooked by feel, by taste.

The most authentic recipes start with cubes of beef or buffalo cooked in a little pork fat. Then, chiles are added for flavor and thickener.

So, here is my 21st century attempt at a more authentic chili:

Cook four slices of bacon in a large stockpot. Remove bacon and mince. Cook 3 pounds of beef (I used chuck roast), cut in 1 inch cubes, until very well browned. Add in 3 cloves of garlic, minced, 1 onion, diced, 1 cup of ground chile pods (I used guajillo and ancho), 1 tablespoon salt, 1 tablespoon of cumin and 8 cups of water. Simmer for 3 to 4 hours, stirring frequently, until cooked down and thickened.

You must check out the fabulous authentic chili recipe A More Precise Chili Recipe, by Homesick Texan.

 

Authentic Chili Recipe, a.k.a. Bowl of Red
 
Authentic San Antonio, Texas style Red Chile.
Author:
Recipe type: Main Dish
Cuisine: Traditional Southwest
Serves: 6 to 10
Ingredients
  • 4 slices bacon
  • 3 pounds beef cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 cup ground chile pods (guajillo and ancho where used)
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 8 cups water
Instructions
  1. Cook four slices of bacon in a large stockpot. Remove bacon and mince.
  2. Cook 3 pounds of beef until very well browned.
  3. Add in 3 cloves of garlic, minced, 1 onion, diced, 1 cup of ground chile pods (I used guajillo and ancho), 1 tablespoon cumin, 1 tablespoon salt and 8 cups of water.
  4. Return bacon to the pot.
  5. Simmer for 3 to 4 hours, stirring frequently, until cooked down and thickened.

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Judy @Savoring Today January 22, 2013 at 6:38 am

The great chili debate will surely rage on as preferences know no bounds in the food world. Yours looks wonderful and I’m sure the fork is no prop as it would work just as well as a spoon in this case. :)

Reply

Donna January 22, 2013 at 9:20 am

Yes, Judy the Great Debate: Fork or Spoon??? Either works for this hearty bowl!

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Cookin Canuck January 22, 2013 at 10:08 am

After your husband’s proclamation, I’m going to have to try this! I love the simplicity of the ingredients list.

Reply

Donna January 24, 2013 at 2:48 pm

LOVE this Bowl of Red!

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Sandy January 22, 2013 at 8:32 pm

Donna, this chile looks amazing! I love the authentic ground chiles in your recipe. If you aren’t careful, you’ll have all three of my boys lined up at your door for dinner!

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Donna January 24, 2013 at 2:49 pm

Thanks, Sandy! Please come on over for dinner soon!

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Jim Washburn January 23, 2013 at 2:10 pm

Authentic chili has no onions but must have cumin and Mexican oregano.

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Donna January 24, 2013 at 2:55 pm

Hi Jim – I do agree that there are many “authentic” versions of red chili out there. I mostly followed Jane Butel’s recipe, which was pretty well researched. Check it out: http://whatscookingamerica.net/JaneButel/BowlChili.htm

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SeattleDee January 30, 2013 at 6:58 am

Ahhh, but another Jane Butel secret is to accompany said chili with an assortment of “fixins”, turning a basic bowl of red into a a personalized taste treat. Yum!

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Donna January 30, 2013 at 2:37 pm

Thanks Seattle Dee – ALWAYS good to personalize!

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Alexys January 24, 2013 at 5:19 pm

Why was I not invited for dinner that night?!! This looks fabulous! Thanks so much for sharing, can’t wait to make it for my family!

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Donna January 24, 2013 at 6:53 pm

I’ll make it again – - – come on up!!!

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