“Well, does it have beans in it?”
“Well then that’s texas chili.”
I went home and looked it up, and surely enough Wikipedia verified that so-called “chili-purists” have a saying: “If you know beans about chili, you know chili ain’t got no beans.”
And now I know.
The dish is traditionally made with beef, but it’s easy to throw in whatever type of stew meat you have to add a little more depth of flavor. I used beef and pork this time, and the recipe I used suggested using lamb as well. This is a lazy-man’s chili. We use salsa instead of endless chopped vegetables, canned chipotle peppers (and the surrounding adobo sauce), and crushed up tortilla chips instead of cornstarch or masa. But whatever the “chili-purists” might think, the results are great. It’s spicy but not 5-alarm (I’d say 3-alarm tops), thick but not glutenous, and the flavor only gets better over time. Actually, time is the key to this dish. After putting it in the oven, you can leave the chili to cook for as many hours as you want as long as you check on it. Or if it’s not thickening fast enough, you can throw in some more tortilla chips. Of course the longer the better, but if you decide to take it out and mix in some more chips after an hour it’ll still be delicious.
Texas Chili con Carne (Serves 4)
- 3 lbs. stew meat (beef, pork and/or lamb)
- 2 tsp. oil (I used corn)
- 1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
- 1 bottle of beer, preferably an ale
- 1 container of salsa
- 3 handfuls of tortilla chips
- 2 chipotle peppers canned in adobo sauce
- 1 Tbsp. adobo sauce (from can)
- 1 Tbsp. tomato paste
- 1 Tbsp. chili powder
- 1 tsp. ground cumin
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place the meat in a large bowl and toss with oil and salt. Heat a large dutch oven over high heat. Add the meat in batches and brown on all sides, about 2 minutes per batch. Once each batch is browned, place the meat in a clean bowl. Add beer to empty dutch oven and deglaze (get all the brown bits off the bottom) the pot. Then, add the meat back with the salsa, tortilla chips, peppers, adobo sauce, tomato paste, chili powder and cumin and stir to combine. Place lid on dutch oven and put in the oven. Cook for at least an hour, preferably two or three, checking every half hour or so. Serve immediately.
You can garnish with whatever you like, but I think it tastes great on it’s own. Of course, there is also the wonderful leftovers dish you can make: Chili Cheese Nachos. Just cover a plate of tortilla chips with some shredded cheese, throw in the oven until it’s melted, and cover with hot chili. Just be sure to have a glass of milk around somewhere.
Recipe courtesy of Alton Brown