This Texas Chili Recipe has the fundamentals of an authentic Texas inspired meal. Meat, specifically chuck meat, chile, and beer. No beans. If you like beans in your chili you can find a fantastic version in our award-winning brisket chili recipe (did I mention that one has beans?).
If looking for a great side dish for chili our skillet cornbread is just perfect.
And warning – this one is a little spicy.
So before we get to the recipe let’s discuss what we found when researching the idea of an authentic Texas Style Chili. It’s….complicated.
What is Chili?
Any chili (or chili con carne) by definition is a stew (yes, I said it, stew – not soup) cooked with chiles, whether fresh or dried chiles, that’s it. That’s the definition. Anything else you want to put in there still makes it a chili. Prove me wrong.
The origination of this Texas chili came from Northern Mexico or Southern Texas, depending on the sources. Either way, we can thank our friends in Texas for having a say in how the classic dish came to be.
Texas Chili vs Well, Everywhere Else
By definition it’s a chili recipe with meat (typically chuck meat), chile peppers (most often dried peppers made into a paste), beer, and then it’s slowly cooked with stock to reduce and thicken. Note – no beans. Tomatoes will depend on where in Texas you are. Like BBQ, Texas has regional variations, and in this recipe we have no tomatoes.
Making Texas Chili
There is a process for making good chili, and the key element is that it takes time. Most of that time is to reduce and thicken the liquids to get that intense thick and rich flavor and texture as well as to achieve tender beef.
- Make the paste – Use roasted dried chile and then blend with water to get a thick paste. This gives it the distinct flavor versus using dried powders.
- Brown the chuck meat – Browning the chuck meat adds flavor to the beef as well as allowing the seared meat that is sticking to the bottom of the pot to incorporate into the dish as it simmers.
- Soften onions and garlic – Remove the chuck meat and then start making the actual chili by softening the onions and garlic.
- Add ingredients – Layer in the remaining ingredients and slowly simmer away for a few hours to let the sauce reduce and tenderize the meat.
Preparation – Chili Paste
Roasting chile for the chili (note: chile refers to the actual plant versus the dish chili) and turning it into a paste adds the classic flavor versus dried spices.
Seek out dried chile peppers. You’ll often find them in the Mexican section of your local grocer. And using a mix of different types of dried peppers adds flavor and heat versus just using one single type. Since there is no “dried chile” seasoning in this dish, the variation of peppers is the backbone of the flavor.
We are using:
- Chile de Arbol – This is the heat to our dish. It is small and spicy. We are using a larger portion of this for the heat factor (15,000 – 30,000 Scoville units compared to the Jalapeño at 3,500 – 8,000) and for the flavor and color.
- Guajillo – Another great chile for base sauces like our chili paste. These are earthy with a slight sweetness and not overly spicy.
- Pasilla – These large chiles are soft and add a rich earthy flavor and dark color. These are often used for mole sauce and give body to the chili paste. Also not spicy.
Toast them in the pot with olive oil for 6 – 8 minutes over medium heat. Once they toast, remove the stems, add them to a blender with 1 cup of water and puree until smooth.
Note: If you don’t want heat, then adjust the portions of Arbol down and replace with more Guajillo and Pasilla.
Browning the Chuck Meat
Start by searing the chuck meat with our SPG beef rub and a little olive oil. Then brown it in two batches to get that nice crust on the outside of the meat (we do two batches to avoid crowding the pot). If there is too much meat, it will steam and never get that nice crust. As the meat browns, the drippings at the bottom of the pan become a nice flavor addition once the liquids are added and deglaze the pot. Remove the browned meat to finish the remaining steps in making the chili.
Another alternative to chuck is sirloin. Note that sirloin is more tender than chuck and won’t require the same cooking time to render.
To Make The Chili
With the chuck meat removed, add more olive oil and then soften the onions and garlic. We use six large cloves because we love garlic flavor in the chili. After they soften, we start to layer in the ingredients.
- Add the beef back into the pot, turn up the heat to medium, and pour in the beer. Let it simmer for a couple of minutes.
- Then add the chili paste and stir to incorporate, keeping the heat on medium.
- Add the beef stock and stir. The dish may appear to have too much liquid, but it will reduce.
- Bring to a simmer, and leave it simmering with the cover off, occasionally stirring every 15 minutes or so. At this point, continue simmering for three hours to let the liquid reduce and the flavors concentrate. This will intensify the chili flavor and it will render the chuck meat and make it very tender.
- As the meat renders use a fork to see if the meat is tender. When it is tender, and almost falls apart, it is done. This is when to add masa flour. The masa flour will act as a thickener.
- Adjust any seasonings (like salt), and serve with your favorite toppings. This is where we love adding fresh peppers like jalapeño.
How to Thicken the Chili
We use masa (corn) flour to thicken right as we finish the chili. This allows it to naturally reduce over the few hours of cooking and then add the additional thickening agent at the very end.
Our favorite side is skillet cornbread for this one.
Wine and Beverage Pairing
Because of the heat, grab a beer like a lager or pilsner. Going for a wine pairing with this? A crisp and fruity rosé to offset the heat.