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Kids in the Kitchen: “Texas Red” Chili

I love chili. As I should – I’m a Texan. It’s practically mandatory to be passionate about chili. While I’m not as strict on what “is” and “is not” a chili as some (as evidenced by my turkey chili recipe, a chili that includes both beef and beans, and the vegetarian bean and pumpkin chili that made it into the Foodista Best of Foodblogs cookbook), I do truly appreciate what most consider a “real” chili around these parts; commonly known as “Texas Red.”

“Texas Red” has no beans. It has no tomatoes. It is most commonly made with beef, and it’s spicy, but in a good chili, the dried chiles add more than just heat – they add such a depth of flavor that nothing compares. For this reason, I try to stock up on a large variety of dried chiles. Some are sweet, some are smoky, and some are indeed hot enough to burn your tongue right off, if you eat too much. But blend them just right, and you have spicy, delicious Texas love in a bowl.

Brittany’s eyes shined when I mentioned chili, as it was her time to cook. (A girl after my own heart!) Originally, we were going to have some guests over this past weekend, and chili was on the menu. But when our guests cancelled, Brittany insisted we still make plans to cook chili. She loves it. So in spite of the bit of work, the spicy fingers, and the long wait, she happily prepared chili with me.

Spicy fingers? Why, yes. Of course, if I planned ahead, I’d have plastic gloves (shame on me!), but we seeded and toasted those dried chiles, and in spite of washing, a bit of the heat remained on our hands. But we didn’t mind, because the aroma of the chili bubbling away filled the house all afternoon. We left (leaving the boys to make sure our chili didn’t burn on the stove) with the chili at a low temperature, and took Brittany to her drill team performance at a middle school football game. As we returned to the house, and the last rays of sun were leaving the sky, we were welcomed again to that enticing aroma. We baked a bit of cornbread as fast as we could, and sat down to eat.

And eat we did! I think we were more than stuffed (it’s hard to put down your spoon!) when we finished. Fall had officially arrived in our home, because there was chili.

Gluten-Free Texas Red

note: If you can’t find the varieties of chiles shown here, don’t fret. Any combination of chiles will work, but mind the heat – some chiles are hotter than others!

8 dried anchos

5 dried guajillos

4 New Mexico chile peppers

2 dried chipotles

2 T beef tallow, lard, or bacon grease

5 lbs chuck roast, cubed into ¼ inch dice

1 large onion, diced

6 garlic cloves, minced

1 c brewed coffee

1 12 oz bottle GF beer (or beef broth)

2 c water

½ t cinnamon

½ t ground cloves

½ t ground allspice

1 t ground coriander

½ t cayenne

2 T cumin

3 chipotles in adobo

1/3 tablet Mexican chocolate (such as Abuelita)

Salt to taste

Chopped onion, cilantro, and cheese (or Daiya for dairy-free) for garnish

Remove the stems and seeds from the chiles. Heat a dry cast iron skillet to medium heat and toast the chiles until fragrant, about 1 minute. Cover with water and bring to a boil briefly. Reduce to a simmer. Allow to simmer while you work on the rest of the chili.

In a large stockpot, heat beef tallow, lard, or bacon grease over medium high heat. Add beef (you might have to do this in batches) and brown, stirring occasionally. Remove and repeat with other batches. Remove and set aside. Add onions and garlic to the stockpot and sauté for 6-8 minutes or until soft. Add back the beef, and add the coffee, beer, water, and spices. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer.

By now, your chiles should have softened. Drain the chiles, and add them to a blender along with 1-2 cups of water. Add the chipotle chiles. Puree in the blender until smooth. Add the chile puree and the Mexican chocolate to the stockpot and stir in.

Allow chili to simmer for 4-5 hours, adding salt, checking seasoning and adjusting as needed. Add more water if it becomes too thick. When ready to serve, check seasoning once more, and serve with desired garnishes.

Makes 6-8 servings.


Filed under Beef, Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Main Dishes, Soups


food-6231I’m sure a lot of people out there have a chili recipe. I’ve grown up in Texas, around here there are chili cook-offs held in just about every city from Laredo to Amarillo. And everyone has their own version. Some make “Texas Red”, which is never made with beans, some add coffee or chocolate, some add bell peppers, and up in Cincinnati, they serve it over spaghetti. (Which doesn’t seem like chili to me, but hey, who am I to judge?) Mine is somewhere close to a Texas Red…only I did break the rules. I added beans. Because, frankly, meat has gotten expensive. Personally, I enjoy the texture beans add to the dish…and they’re healthy, so why not?

Anyway, this has been a recipe that has been tweaked for years. It’s relatively hot, but not burn-the-pants-off-ya hot. And if you wish to make it gluten-free, use a gluten-free beer (such as Redbridge), or use additional chicken broth (or beef broth, even). (Note: Several of my family members are celiac, and the Redbridge, which is supposedly wheat and barley-free, has even caused issues. If this is an issue for you, please use broth instead of the beer.) And as for the dried chiles, feel free to substitute. Just be aware, if you substitute with a hotter chile, just use less. Or don’t…but don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Enjoy this chili with shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, and diced onions.

8-9 dried guajillo peppers, stems and seeds removed

5-6 dried chipotle peppers, stems and seeds removed

3 lbs lean ground beef

1 large yellow onion, finely chopped

3 T minced garlic

1 7 oz can green chiles

3 T chili powder, preferably New Mexico Hot (you can use mild if you want milder chili)

4 T ground cumin

2 t salt

2 t freshly ground black pepper

1 small can tomato paste

1 c chicken broth

2 c water

1 c beer

3 cans beans (kidney and/or white northern), with liquid

1 ½ T maple syrup, or to taste


Put the dried peppers in a small saucepan with enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 30-40 minutes. Put peppers and 1 c of the water into blender and blend until smooth. Set chili paste aside.


Brown ground beef in a large stockpot or saucepan over medium heat, stirring until crumbly; drain the excess drippings. Add the onions and garlic and cook for 4-5 minutes more, until the onions are translucent.


Add the green chiles, regular chili powder, cumin, salt, and black pepper and mix well. Simmer over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring to prevent sticking, to blend the flavors.


Stir in the tomato paste, chicken broth, ¾ c of the chili paste and 2 cups water. Bring to boil and reduce heat. Cook, covered for 1 hour.


Add beans with liquid, and add beer. Stir. Cook for an additional 45 minutes to an hour, until of desired consistency, stirring occasionally. Taste and adjust the amount of the chili paste and other seasonings as necessary. Add maple syrup and cook for 5-10 minutes more.

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Filed under Beef, Main Dishes, Soups