Tom Westbrook

North Texas Red Chili

As Prepared for the 5th Bicentennial Chili Festival & Whiskey Drank, March 15, 1980

Recipe courtesy Zuiko Redding, Cedar Rapids Zen Center


This makes a  lot of chili! I usually cut the recipe to 1/3 (except for the tequila) for an average 4-6 person dinner with leftovers for the freezer.

I usually use ground chipotle & ancho instead of trying to find dried ones.

Be sure to read through the directions first, especially the last paragraph, but basically be conservative with the hot peppers--you can always add more later.

Huge Kettle
Large frying pan
Small  saucepan

1 pint tequila

15 ancho chile peppers (dried)
10 jalapeño peppers
10 Japanese peppers (dried)
3 chipotle peppers (dried)

Bacon drippings (or cooking oil)

30 cloves garlic,  coarsely minced
30 lbs. chuck roast, cut into ½ in. cubes
4 c. chili powder
1 c. flour

3 quarts beer  (preferably Lone Star)
6 c. beef broth

6 tbsp. cumin seeds
4 tbsp. oregano
4 tbsp. ground coriander
1 tbsp. sugar

salt to  taste (start with 2 tbsp.)
4-5 tbsp. masa harina (optional)

No beans, No tomatoes, No onions!

Serves 30-35 chiliheads or 45-50 polite eaters.
Take a big sip of tequila. Maybe another, to give you a good chili perspective. Pace yourself, though: serious chili takes less time than a Wagner opera, but it's not fast food either.
Remove seeds and veins from dried chile peppers and discard. Boil peppers  for 15 minutes, then cover and let sit for half an hour or so.
Chop seeded and de-veined jalapeños into small bits. Set aside.
Take another sip of tequila.
Lightly sauté garlic in bacon drippings. Do not brown. Transfer to kettle.
Brown meat a handful at a time in bacon drippings. Do not crowd or meat will steam. Transfer to kettle.
Sift flour and chili powder together. Shake over meat. Stir with wooden  spoon until meat is lightly coated.
Remove cooked chile peppers from liquid and mash into a paste. Conserve  liquid. Add all peppers (including the jalapeños) to the kettle.
Add 2 1/2 quarts beer, beef broth, and chile cooking liquid to kettle. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Stir frequently to avoid sticking. Liquid should be at least 2-3 inches above meat. Add more beer (or even water) if necessary.
More tequila, chase with remaining beer.
Reduce heat to a strong simmer. Then add other spices. Rub cumin seeds,  oregano, and coriander between your hands over the kettle. This may cause them to blend into the broth quicker, and it certainly feels good.
Cook over low heat, partially covered, until meat just begins to fall apart. This should take 2-3 hours. Check frequently. Stir. Taste from time to time to  appreciate what a fine brew you have. Adjust spices. Put on some Willie or Waylon or Billie Joe Shaver. Relax, but don't collapse.
Optional: Make a roux with the masa harina and a cup or so of the cooking  liquid. Add to the kettle for the last 15 minutes of cooking. Do this if the chili needs to be thickened a bit or if you're partial to that tortilla bite the masa imparts.
Finish the tequila, if you haven't already.
Cool, refrigerate overnight, and skim the grease off the top of the kettle the next morning. Take it out of the refrigerator for a couple of hours before  starting to heat it up. Warm slowly over a very low fire before serving. Stir a  lot to make sure it doesn't stick. Don't blow it all after this much work.
Some people prefer it straight; others like it "Going to the prom" (i.e.,  topped with grated cheddar cheese and chopped onions and maybe some chopped jalapeños or a dollop of hot sauce). Beans are acceptable so long as they are  not cooked with the chili, but fresh tortillas are a better companion. Dos X is  the beer of preference with chili, but any brand - except Schmidt's - is okay after the first three or four.
A note on hotness: First-timers may want to cut back on the number of  peppers prescribed in this recipe, at least during the early stages of cooking (more peppers can always be added later if the brew seems too bland). Serious chili is a rich, tasty nectar with a sharp bite, but it shouldn't be so hot you can't eat it. On the other hand, it should make your forehead sweat.

Bibliography : Frank X. Tolbert, A Bowl of Red . 1994 Texas A & M Univ Press ISBN: 0890965986.  Reprint. The bible of chili culture. Everything else written on the subject is either wrong or redundant.

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