Bust out the Dutch ovens: it’s getting “chili” in Texas.
The origins of the robust dish Texans fervently claim as their own are, as food writers are used to say, lost to history.
But Frank X. Tolbert, in his 1953 treatise on Texas chili, A Bowl of Red, made a reasonably good case for San Antonio because the birthplace of the ruddy, lustrous, peppery pot of meat we’re so keen on .
So did the Sixty-fifth Legislature, which anointed it our official dish in 1977, boldly declaring that “Texans continue today the tradition begun in San Antonio 140 years ago of creating the simplest and only authentic concoction of this piquant delicacy.”
little question chili’s connection to Texas is deep and indisputable, from Gebhardt to Wolf brand, from the late-nineteenth-century “chili queens” of the Alamo City’s downtown plazas to the modern-day maestros of the Terlingua cookoffs.
But don’t search for a united Texan front when it involves defining “authentic” (except for a near universal, almost hysterical aversion to the inclusion of beans).
I lack the fortitude to wade into the murky depths of secret formulas and verboten ingredients and thus align myself with the author of this recipe, Terry Thompson-Anderson, who reasonably suggests that perhaps “the rivalry and therefore the controversy bring dozens of equally fabulous bowls of chili.”
12 ancho chiles, stems and seeds removed
7 pasilla chiles, stems and seeds removed
2 1/2 tablespoons cumin seeds, toasted, then ground
1 tablespoon whole coriander seeds, toasted, then ground
1 1/2 tablespoons dried Mexican oregano
2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa
1 1/2 tablespoons sweet Hungarian paprika
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
6 pounds beef chuck roast
1/3 cup fresh leaf fat (preferable) or shortening
2 large onions, chopped
15 garlic cloves, minced
2/3 cup ingredient
1 can (15 ounces) spaghetti sauce
3 quarts chicken broth (set aside 2/3 cup for the masa harina)
1/2 cup masa harina whisked into 2/3 cup hot chicken broth
- Heat a heavy-bottomed 12- to 14-inch skillet over medium-high heat.
- When the pan is hot, add a layer of the chiles.
- Cook, turning often, until a robust chile aroma—one that’s not bitter or charred—emanates from the pan.
- don’t allow the chiles to burn. Spread the chiles on a wire rack to chill and become moderately crisp.
- Repeat until all the chiles are toasted.
- Grind the chiles to a fine powder in an electrical spice or coffee mill .
- Shake the chile powder through a fine strainer to get rid of any large pieces.
- Combine the bottom chiles with the cumin, coriander, oregano, cocoa, paprika, cayenne, and black pepper.
- Set the mixture aside.
Trim the chuck roast, removing all fat, gristle, and tendons. Chop the meat by hand into 1/2-inch dice; put aside . Melt the lard during a heavy-bottomed 8-quart (or larger) Dutch oven over medium-high heat. When the fat is hot, add the meat and sear, stirring often. Add the onions and garlic. Cook, stirring often, until the onions are wilted and transparent, about 7 minutes. Add the ingredient and stir to blend well. Cook, stirring, until the ingredient is thick and dark in color, about 5 minutes. Add the spaghetti sauce and chile-spice mixture. Stir to blend well, then add the chicken broth . Bring the mixture to a full boil, then lower heat to a simmer and canopy . Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 1 1/2 hours. Stir within the masa mixture and salt to taste. Cook, uncovered, a further 30 to 45 minutes on low-medium heat, or until the chili is thickened and therefore the meat is fork-tender. Stir often to stop sticking. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired. Serve hot and add your favorite toppings (diced onion, avocado, soured cream , shredded cheese, corn chips, et cetera).