“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.
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.
- 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
- Cook four slices of bacon in a large stockpot. Remove bacon and mince.
- Cook 3 pounds of beef 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 cumin, 1 tablespoon salt and 8 cups of water.
- Return bacon to the pot.
- Simmer for 3 to 4 hours, stirring frequently, until cooked down and thickened.