One-Pot Cookery

Texas Chili Con Carne

March 3, 2016

Pennie F. wrote in search of an old recipe for “beanless” chili that was her family’s Sunday staple 20 years ago. Being a Texas girl originally, beanless chili is a-okay with me, so I complied with this really-and-truly chili, made with beef suet, beef chunks and loads of handmade chili paste. It’s not a recipe to rush: the meat’s most tender and soup’s most flavorful if you allow this chili pot to simmer for more than two hours.  The potent mix of ancho and red chili paste, cumin and herbs are added AFTER you’ve simmered the beef to tenderness. In the last half hour, the flavor and color really bloom. I like to serve it over rice with chopped onion.

Texas Chili Con Carne
Yields 1
This vintage slow-cooked beanless beef chili is made with beef suet and a flavorful mix of ancho and hot red chili paste, cumin and herbs.
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  1. 6 dried ancho chilies plus 8 dried hot red chilies, each about 2 inches long
  2. 1/2 pound beef suet, cut into 1/2-inch bits
  3. 3 pounds lean boneless venison or beef chuck, cut in 1/2-inch cubes
  4. 3 bay leaves, finely crumbled
  5. 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  6. 3 tablespoons paprika
  7. 2 tablespoons each: sugar, salt
  8. 3 tablespoons yellow cornmeal
  9. 1 teaspoon cayenne, optional hot cooked rice and chopped onion on the side
  1. Under cold running water and wearing gloves, pull stems off ancho and red chilies. Tear chilies in half; brush out seeds. Cut out any large ribs. Crumble chilies coarsely; drop in bowl and pour 3 cups boiling water over all. Let soak at least 30 minutes. Strain liquid through sieve and save liquid. Save chilies as well. Cook suet in heavy 5 to 6-quart casserole over medium heat, stirring frequently, until all fat is rendered. Remove and discard suet bits with slotted spoon. Pour off all but 1/4 cup fat. Add meat in batches; cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until meat is firm but not brown. Add 2 1/2 cups of the reserved chili soaking liquid; heat to boiling over high heat. Add bay leaves; reduce heat to low. Simmer, covered, for 1 hour or until tender, stirring occasionally. Put cumin in small, ungreased skillet and toast over low heat 10 minutes, shaking pan back and forth frequently. Drop seeds into blender and pulse at high speed 30 seconds. Add chilies, remaining soaking liquid, paprika, garlic, oregano, sugar, and salt; blend to a smooth puree. Stir puree into meat. Simmer, partly covered, 30 minutes. Add cornmeal in slow stream, stirring constantly, and cook over high heat until the mixture starts to boil and thickens slightly. Taste; add cayenne, if desired. Mound rice in serving bowls, ladle chili over. Serve with chopped onion.
Adapted from Chicago Tribune archives
Adapted from Chicago Tribune archives
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