A Big Old Bowl Of Texas Red

01. 5. 2014


Believe it or not, I won a chili contest five years ago at Mt Ashwabay. And believe it or not, I didn’t write down the recipe. I have tried to recreate that award-winning chili ever since, with little to no success. I remembered it was Texas chili (no beans), I used dried chiles and I threw a couple of shots of bourbon in the pot— not much to go on but as I sat down with my iPad, it was enough to get started.


There are strict guidelines for Texas Red and the most important can be summed up in two hard and fast rules— no beans and no tomatoes. In my search for the recipe I used five years ago, I read endless recipes, tips and treatises on a proper bowl of chili— everything from the benefits of using dried chilies as opposed to powder to adding tempeh to the pot (not very Texan, if you ask me). I settled on a hybrid of chili meets Mexican mole for my bowl of Texas Red— 7 different kinds of chilies, strong coffee, Bock beer, crushed tomatoes and dark chocolate. No bourbon in this batch but that’s okay— it’s better on ice anyways.


It was everything I remembered and more— a hint of smokiness from the chipotles, a deeply flavored sauce from the tomatoes, beer and coffee, tender chucks of beef and a beautiful dark mahogany color. If there is another chili competition in my future, I think I have a winner on my hands.  


Seriously Good Texas Chili

5 dried Ancho chilies
12 dried Japon chilies
8 dried Guajillos chilies
6 dried New Mexico chilies
2 Anaheim chilies, seeded and chopped
3 Poblano chilies, seeded and chopped
6 tbsp. butter
8 pounds of beef chuck, cubed in 1 – 2 inch cubes
4 onions, chopped
12 cloves garlic, chopped
4 tbsp. cumin
4 tsp. coriander
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp. cloves
2 28 ounce cans of crushed tomatoes
1 can of chipotle en adobo
2 cups beef broth
2 bottles of Bock beer
2 cups dark roast coffee, I used Big Water Snowplow Winter Blend
2 tbsp. kosher salt
1 disk of Taza Guajillo Mexican chocolate (about 1.5 ounces)

De-seed the dried chilies and heat them in a dry sauté pan on medium heat for a couple of minutes on each side. Turn off the heat and then add enough water to the skillet to cover the chilies, and let them soak for about 45 minutes.

Place the cubed beef in a large bowl and season with salt and pepper. In a large sauté pan, heat 4 tablespoons of butter over medium high heat and place the seasoned beef cubes in the pan (you will probably have three or four batches of beef cubes). After the beef has browned on all sides, place in a bowl and set aside. In the same pan that you cooked the beef, add the chopped onions and cook for 7 – 10 minutes or until softened and golden brown. Add the garlic, cumin, coriander, cinnamon and cloves and cook for 5 minutes. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Heat the large sauté pan (that you cooked the beef and onions in ) over medium heat, add the butter, chopped Poblano and Anaheim peppers and sauté for 10 minutes or until the peppers are softened but not browned. Lower the heat to medium and add the onion/spice mixture, beer and coffee to the pan, stir to combine and simmer for 5 minutes.

In a large dutch oven or stockpot, add the beef and any accumulated juices and the onion/spice mixture and place on the stove over medium heat. Drain the dried chilies that were soaking in the water and place in a blender with the can of chipotles and 2 cups of beef broth. Process until smooth and add to the dutch oven. When chili begins to boil, turn heat down to low and let simmer, covered, for five hours or so, stirring occasionally. If it starts to look too dry, add more beer or beef broth.

About an hour before you plan to serve the chili, finely grate the Taza Mexican hot chocolate disc and add it to the chili. Thoroughly mix to combine, remove the cover and continue to simmer. Serve it with sour cream, cheddar cheese and chopped green onion.


{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Linda Manders January 6, 2014 at 10:44 am

Did you get the dried Chili’s and chocolate at a Mexican grocer? Also, I see you used Cento tomatoes. I tend to use Glen Muir. Do you find Cento better. Thanks for your recipes! Also, I notice you have a Cavalier King Charles. Great breed, I have two, a Blenheim and a Black and Tan.



themaven January 6, 2014 at 11:45 am

I bought the dried chilies at Walmart because the closest Mexican grocery store is in Mpls (4 hours away). When I went to the check-out aisle, the guy asked me where I got them and said he’s never seen anyone purchase them before. I doubt many people are looking for 5 pound bags of chilies in Northern WI. I bought the Taza chocolate at the Co-op in Ashland but I’m sure they have it at a Mexican grocery store. When I lived in Minneapolis, I used to shop at El Burrito in West St Paul and Cinco de Mayo Mercado on 37th and Nicollet (good and inexpensive tortillas).

My all time favorite canned tomato is Carmelina- they are packed in puree, not water, and are the freshest tasting canned tomatoes I’ve ever eaten. Cento is my second choice and I use them when I need crushed tomatoes (Carmelina doesn’t have crushed tomatoes). I prefer tomatoes packed in puree- more tomato punch and flavor.

I have three Cavaliers- a tri-color (Seamus), a Black and Tan (Gus) and Blenheim (Henry). They are such loyal and loving dogs and I truly adore them.


Two Red Bowls January 12, 2014 at 8:49 pm

Love this! Saw your comment on Food52 and came here — I had no idea Texas chili had no beans!!! I add beans to my chili just because I thought it wouldn’t be chili without it. Who knew a whole state felt just like me and didn’t like them either. LOVE it. I just tried dark chocolate recently too and am hooked — but I bet seven different types of chili peppers on top of that makes this absolutely unforgettable. Thanks for sharing!


themaven January 13, 2014 at 10:03 am

I agree with you, not a fan of beans either….I don’t like the texture. Using dried and fresh chilies was more work than using chili powder but makes a huge difference in the depth of flavor, kind of like the dark chocolate. Thanks for taking a look at my recipe- love that people can connect over the love of food!


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