Chili Con Carne, “Real Texas”

While this pandemic drags on, the load has thankfully lightened close to home. Finally have some time to add another recipe summary of one I’ve learned to get comfortable with in the past year.

This is how I like to make chili. Based on this Serious Eats recipe I was directed to by KB, but a short version for my reference:

The chili paste

  • 3 whole sweet fresh dried chilies like Costeño, New Mexico, or Choricero, stems and seeds removed
  • 2 small hot dried chilies like Arbol or Cascabel, stems and seeds removed
  • 3 whole rich fruity dried chilies like Ancho, Mulatto, Negro, or Pasilla, stems and seeds removed
  • 2 whole Chipotle chilies canned in adobo sauce, plus 2 tablespoons sauce, stems and seeds removed
  • 1 quart chicken broth (2 qts total needed for the whole recipe, but only half here for the chili paste)

I like the simple route:

Place dried chilies on a microwave-safe plate and microwave on high power in 15-second increments until pliable and toasted-smelling, about 30 seconds total. Transfer to a 2-quart microwave-safe liquid measuring cup or bowl. Add the 1qt chicken broth and chipotle chilies, cover with plastic wrap, and microwave on high power until gently simmering, about 5 minutes. Remove from microwave and set aside for 5 minutes. Transfer chilies and liquid to blender and blend, starting on the lowest possible setting and gradually increasing speed to high (make sure to hold the lid down with a clean kitchen towel or a potholder to prevent it from blowing out). Blend until smooth, about 1 minute.

The meat

  • 4 pounds beef chuck, trimmed of excess gristle and fat, cut into thick steaks
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Season chuck steaks generously with salt and pepper. Heat oil in the base of a Dutch oven (or cast iron if you want to do it separately) over high heat until just starting to smoke. Add half of beef chuck in a single layer and cook without moving until deeply browned, about 6 minutes. Flip steaks and brown second side, 3 to 4 minutes longer. Transfer steaks to a cutting board. When cool enough to handle, cut seared steaks and raw steaks into 1 1/2- to 2-inch chunks.

The chili!

  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • 4 medium cloves garlic, grated on a micro-plane grater
  • 1/2 teaspoon powdered cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 quart chicken stock

Return Dutch oven to heat. Add onions and cook, stirring frequently until translucent and softened, about 2 minutes. Add garlic, cinnamon, cumin, allspice, and oregano, and cook, stirring constantly until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add all meat back to pan along with chili puree and remaining quart chicken broth. Stir to combine. 4.

Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce to a simmer, cover, leaving lid just barely ajar and cook, stirring occasionally until meat is completely tender, 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Alternatively, stew can be cooked in a 200° to 250°F oven with the lid of the Dutch oven slightly ajar. 5.

Finishing up!

  • 2 tablespoons Asian fish sauce
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons masa [optional; I have never actually used this]
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • Hot sauce, to taste [haven’t used hot sauce yet]

Stir in fish sauce, masa harina (if using), and vinegar. Add hot sauce to taste. Season to taste with salt. For best results, allow chili to cool and store in the refrigerator at least overnight and up to five days. Reheat the next day to serve.


I usually enjoy with cheese & chips. Per the original recipe of course you can enjoy how you like, with cilantro, scallions, avocado, whatever.