Sunday, January 23, 2011

Texas Red Chili

Since I've moved to Canada, I've been served some odd things that have been labeled chili. Meat with beans, bell peppers, and ... corn? It's not to say that Canadian chili isn't good (especially Maison du Roti's chili!), it's just not what I think of as chili. When I started explaining traditional Texas red to people, I got some strange looks. No beans? No tomatoes? The anti-bean contingent was more enthusiastic about these strange ideas. The pro-vegetable contingent was a little more skeptical. After last night, I think I've convinced some people of the goodness of Texas red. Of course, the only downside is I have no leftovers to make a Frito pie with today! Frito chips covered with chili and shredded cheese is a great way to eat chili.

I made a couple of changes to the recipe. I ran out of ancho chiles so I ended up substituting half ancho chile powder for the ancho chiles. Sadly, I am now completely out of my Texas ancho reserves and need to go hunting through the Latin American grocery stores now. I couldn't locate beef suet (although I didn't search very hard), so I used bacon grease to brown the meat. I was briefly tempted to use duck fat given how available it is here, but I resisted! You could also just use oil, but bacon grease makes everything better ... and then there's bacon to snack on! I cooked this in the slow cooker because I was using my Dutch oven to make the other chili recipe. I needed more liquid because I hadn't soaked as many chiles and was paranoid about burning the meat, so I used beer for the extra liquid (and then later a cornstarch slurry to thicken it back up). I'm including the stove guidelines below, but feel free to dump in the slow cooker after browning and let it simmer away for the day! Finally, the original suggests making a day ahead and then reheating. I'm sure it's better as it gives the flavours more time to meld, but I didn't do this and I have no leftovers to test my theory on.

Frank X. Tolbert's Original Bowl of Red (from Texas Home Cooking)

Notes from Texas Home Cooking, "One pundit said that if chili were a religion, A Bowl of Red would be its Bible and Frank X. Tolbert its Moses."

12 dried ancho chiles / 12 tbsp ancho chile powder
1.5kg lean beef chuck, cut into thumb-sized pieces
57g beef suet / 3 tbsp bacon grease from 4 cooked bacon slices / 3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp dried oregano (I used Mexican)
1 tbsp cayenne
1 tbsp tabasco sauce
2 or more cloves garlic, chopped
1 tbsp salt
2 tbsp masa harina

1. Break off steams of the chiles and remove the seeds. Place chiles in a saucepan and cover with water. Simmer for 30 minutes.
2. Drain the chiles, reserving the simmering water.
3. Place the chiles and a bit of their cooking liquid in a blender. Puree to make a smooth, thin paste. (If using only powder, mix with just a tiny bit of water).
4. Pour the chile puree into a Dutch oven (or slow cooker).
5. In a heavy skillet, sear the meat in batches using the fat of your choice. Transfer meat to the dish with your chile puree.
6. Pour in enough of the chile cooking liquid to cover the meat by about 2 inches if using a Dutch oven. (If using a wide slow cooker, you probably just want to cover the meat. If you don't have enough chile cooking liquid because you used powder, you can add beer, broth, or water.)
7. If using a slow-cooker, simmer on low for 6 - 8 hours adding additional spices 1 hour in and masa harina during the last 30 minutes to 1 hour.
8. If using a Dutch oven, bring chili to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook the chili 30 minutes.
9. Remove chili from heat and stir in cumin, oregano, cayenne, tabasco sauce, garlic, and salt. Return to heat and resume simmering for 45 minutes, keeping the lid on except to stir occasionally. Add more chile liquid only if you think the mixture will burn.
10. Add the masa harina. Cover chili and simmer for another 30 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning to taste.
11. Remove chili from heat and refrigerate overnight. Skim fat before reheating and serve hot.

1 comment:

  1. There are quite a few folks from Austin at CMU RI and we're supposed to have a chili cook-off sometime in the near future... I have to say, I'm quite skeptical about the no peppers, or beans or tomatoes idea :) How can you have chili without beans!?? ;)