Texas-style chili con carne can be as complex or as simple as you’d like to make it. I’ve already given you the complex version with nineteen ingredients and nine steps, so I figured I’d give you something you could throw together without so much effort.
This version has only fifteen ingredients and four steps, but more importantly, it uses coarse ground beef available at most grocery stores instead of beef chuck that you would have to cut by hand.
What Makes Chili Texas-Style?
As always, the question is, does Texas chili have beans in it? No, traditional Texas-style chili doesn’t have beans in it.
That’s okay, though. If you like beans in your chili, put ’em in there. It’s still chili; it’s just not Texas-style chili.
I don’t put beans in my chili unless somebody tells me I’m not allowed to. As soon as the cook starts getting directions from the guests, the chili gets a double dose of beans. Any more demands and I might load it with pancake syrup and mustard.
Texas-style chili typically doesn’t have tomatoes in it, either, but almost everybody puts them in there.
Because it tastes better.
The tomato rule isn’t as hard and fast as no beans, but some purists demand that you not put tomatoes in there either.
This Texan will continue to put tomatoes in his chili.
Tips for Making Your Chili con Carne
There are a couple of things you can do to make your chili better.
First, use coarse ground beef. If you use typical fine ground beef, your chili will lack texture. A coarser grind will ensure that it doesn’t come out mushy.
Next, you’re going to want to sear the beef. Once your dutch oven is hot, just mash it into the pan with a spatula and let it sit for a minute before breaking it up and browning it the rest of the way.
This will let the magic of the Maillard Reaction take its course, adding depth and complexity to the flavor of the beef.
As to chili powder, I prefer homemade because the chiles are fresher and toasted properly. If you use my chili powder recipe, cut the cumin in this recipe back to one teaspoon rather than the one tablespoon listed.
Finally, if you want a thick broth for your chili, you can sprinkle a couple of tablespoons of masa harina into your chili about a half-hour before it’s done. Be sure to stir it well, so there aren’t any lumps.
I left the masa out of this recipe to keep things simple. It comes out just fine without it.
Easy Texas-Style Chili con Carne
- 1 tbsp. beef tallow - or, substitute vegetable oil
- 3 lbs. coarse ground beef
- 1 large yellow onion
- 1 large poblano pepper
- 2 large jalapeno peppers
- 6 cloves garlic - minced
- 1/3 cup chili powder - homemade chili powder is far better than store-bought
- 2 tsp. ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp. Mexican oregano
- 2 tsp. Kosher salt
- 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
- 1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes
- 1 tbsp. tomato paste
- 1 can beer - lager or pilsner are best
- 2 cups beef stock
- Preheat your Dutch oven over medium-high heat and add the beef tallow. Once the beef tallow is melted and beginning to smoke, add the ground beef and press down firmly with a sturdy spatula. Let sear undisturbed for a least a minute, then break it up with your spatula and brown it the rest of the way. Remove the browned beef with a slotted spoon and pour off all but 2 tbsp. of the remaining oil.
- Add the onion, poblano, and jalapenos, Cook, stirring often, until the poblano and jalapenos are soft, and the onions are starting to become translucent. Add the garlic, chili powder, cumin, oregano, salt, and black pepper, and cook an additional minute.
- Add the ground beef, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, beer, and beef stock. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 2 hours, stirring on occasion.
- Spoon off any oil that has risen to the top, then increase heat to medium-low, and simmer for 1/2 an hour, stirring occasionally. Taste for salt and pepper, and adjust.