In Texas, when it comes to chili, meat is the star of the show. No beans, no carrots, no peppers—just chunks of beef cooked low and slow until they’re so tender they start to fall apart. The recipe may look complicated, but it’s actually quite easy to make. Serves 4–6.
½ tsp smoked paprika
½ tsp Cajun seasoning
¼ tsp cayenne
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp peppercorns, crushed
2 lbs stewing beef, cut into cubes
2 tbsp olive oil
2 sweet onions, roughly chopped
4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 fresh jalapeño pepper, seeded and chopped
2 large (28 oz) cans whole tomatoes, well drained and crushed (see Tips, below)
3 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, chopped
4 oz dark chocolate
1 tsp maple syrup
1 can (15 oz) dark stout (I like Mill St. Brewery’s Cobblestone Stout)
2 tbsp Masa Harina (see Tips, below)
Suggestions for garnish
3 oz grated cheese
1 tomato, chopped
2 green onions, chopped
½ cup sour cream
1 lime, cut into wedges
1. Combine first five ingredients to make a dry spice mix. Season beef cubes by tossing in dry spices to coat. On medium heat, add oil to a Dutch oven (or any heavy stockpot), and brown the beef for a few minutes, stirring it around so it gets a little colour on all sides. Remove beef, and set aside.
2. Lower the heat, and add onions to the Dutch oven. When the onions start to caramelize (about 12–15 minutes), add garlic and jalapeños, and cook for two more minutes, making sure the onions don’t get too far past golden-brown.
3. Add beef back to the pot with the onions and jalapeños, and turn heat back up to medium-high. Add crushed tomatoes, chipotles (with sauce), chocolate, maple syrup, and enough stout to cover the meat.
4. When the chili starts to bubble and reaches a low boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 90 minutes, stirring every 20 or so minutes. If the liquid gets low, add a little more beer.
5. After 90 minutes, check to see if the meat is falling apart. If not, you can speed it up by pulling the beef out and making a few rough cuts to the pieces. Throw them back in the pot, along with the Masa Harina. Stir everything well, and cook for another 15 minutes.
6. Serve in a bowl with bread on the side. Garnish as desired.
I like San Marzano tomatoes, but any kind will do. The key is to use whole tomatoes, drained and then crushed, rather than using canned crushed tomatoes. This lets you control the amount of liquid you’re adding, so the chili doesn’t get too thin.
Masa Harina is used as thickening agent in a lot of chili recipes because it also adds a nice flavour. You can buy it in larger cottage-country stores. To substitute, mix two tbsp of cornstarch with two ounces of cold water, and add it to the chili.