How do you define chili? Ask ten people and you'll get ten different answers. Folks in the upper midwest put cinnamon in theirs. Sometimes "chili" is served on top of noodles. People from all parts use recipes with all sorts of beans. There's even debate about the kind of meat that should be used. I've had some good venison chili, and some people like to incoporate pork into their recipe. While most people believe that chili meat starts and ends with beef, they're still divided into cubed vs. ground beef camps. Overall, I keep my recipe simple.
Years ago, when I wanted to learn what "real" chili was, I found myself circling back to the recipe of Lady Bird Johnson, wife of Lyndon Baines Johnson, the 36th president of the United States. While she has a decent platform to start from, there are a few things I must change:
- I am in the cubed beef camp: 1/2 to 3/4 inch cubes of chuck roast, to be specific.
- Chili is not soup. I like a mine to be reduced down quite a bit. And...
- Everybody is eventually going to season their recipe to their own liking.
Primal Texas Chili
Makes 4-6 servings
What you'll need:
Stew pot/dutch oven
3-3.5 lb chuck roast, cut into 1/2 to 3/4 inch cubes
1 large onion, cut with a 1/2 inch dice
1 tablespoon of minced or smashed garlic (about 3 cloves)
3 tablespoons of chile powder (that's chile with an e not chile with an i)
1 tablespoon of ground cumin
1 can (28 oz.) of diced tomatoes, undrained
Salt to taste
Over med-high heat, brown the cubes of chuck roast. We're not looking to cook the meat through, but we do want a good sear on the outside. I recommedend browning the meat in 1 lb. batches as to not overcrowd the pot and subsequently "grey" the meat. Lightly season each batch of meat with salt.
After the last batch of meat is browned, remove it from the pot. Add the onions to the pot and reduce the heat to medium. If your chuck roast was lean, you may need to add a little bit of your fat of choice to the onions (I recommend a tablespoon or two of bacon grease). When the onions begin to sweat, add in the garlic, chile powder and cumin. Stir well and let the onions continue to cook.
When the onions become translucent, add the meat back in... as well as the undrained can of diced tomatoes. Stir to incorporate all of the ingredients. When the chili starts to simmer, reduce the heat to low and let it cook for at least an hour, stirring every 10 minutes or so.
Feel free to serve and garnish with hot sauce, fresh diced onions, or some shredded raw cheddar cheese. I'll even give a pass to pico de gallo, avocado slices or some full fat sour cream. But, please... no noodles.
Ladies and gentlemen, Primal Texas Chili.