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Texas-Style Chili Con Carne – Once Upon a Chef

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Tender chuck roast in a deeply-flavored and smoky sauce, Texas-style chili con carne is the ultimate beef chili.

With tender chunks of beef in a thick, deeply-flavored, and smoky sauce, this chili con carne is essentially a chili-flavored beef stew. It’s not the fastest or easiest chili to make (for that, try this recipe), but it’s what I consider the ultimate beef chili. If you’re looking for a recipe for a chili cook-off, this is the one! What makes it Texas-style? Mainly, it’s made with cubed beef rather than ground beef and no beans (true Texas chili also does not contain tomatoes, but I like the flavor they add). The recipe requires over an hour of prep and active cook time, plus several hours to simmer on the stove, so it’s best to make it over the weekend. I would suggest doubling the recipe; you can freeze some for another night (you’ll be so glad you did!) or use leftovers for tacos, burritos, or topping rice or baked potatoes. Serve chili con carne with cornbread muffins or everyday cornbread.

What you’ll need to make Texas-Style chili con carne

Before we get to the step-by-step instructions, a few notes about the ingredients:

For the meat, it’s important to use chuck roast that is well-marbled. It should have a good amount of white veins of fat running through it. Stay away from generically packaged “stew meat,” especially if it looks lean – it will never get tender. You’ll need to trim the excess fat off of the chuck roast, but don’t go overboard; just remove any large flaps of fat.

Purists insist that Texas chili be made with whole dried chiles (the kind you see in plastic bags in the produce department), toasted and ground into a homemade chili powder. This is labor intensive, so I use fresh jalapeños and a combination of two readily available pure chili powders (ancho and chipotle) instead. Note that these are dried, ground peppers (not to be confused with standard chili powder, which is a blend of ground chilies and other spices).

Ancho chili powder is made from dried poblano peppers and has a moderately spicy flavor. Chipotle chili powder is made from dried and smoked jalapeños, which have a smoky and spicy flavor. You can find both chili powders at most large grocery stores.

STEP-BY-STEP INSTRUCTIONS

Begin by combining the spices and cornmeal in a small bowl. The cornmeal is used to thicken the stew. Add a bit of water to form a paste, then set aside.

spices and cornmeal in bowl

Next, fry the bacon until the fat has rendered and the bacon is crisp.

frying the bacon in a Dutch oven

Use a slotted spoon to transfer bacon to a paper towel-lined plate.

draining bacon on plate

Pour all but a few teaspoons of the bacon fat into a small bowl, then sear the meat in batches (the meat should be in a single layer) until well browned on at least one side, adding more of the reserved bacon fat as necessary. This process creates a depth of flavor and adds wonderful dimension to the stew.

searing the beef

Transfer the seared beef to a plate. Add some water to the pan – it will smoke – and scrape the bottom with a wooden spoon to release all the brown bits. This is called deglazing. Pour the flavorful liquid over the beef.

seared beef on plate

Reduce the heat to medium and add 3 tablespoons of the reserved bacon fat to the pot. Add the onions.

adding the onions to the pot

Cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and jalapeños and cook 2 minutes more.

adding garlic and jalapeno pepper

Add the reserved chili paste and sauté until fragrant, a few minutes (it will look clumpy and stick to the bottom a bit – that’s okay).

cooking the onions

Add the beef broth the pot.

adding the beef broth to the pot

Use a whisk to stir until all of the spices are dissolved into the broth, then add the water, beer, crushed tomatoes, molasses, cocoa powder, seared beef and cooked bacon.

Adding the water, beer, crushed tomatoes, molasses, cocoa powder, seared beef and cooked bacon to the pot

Bring to a simmer, then cover and cook with the lid just slightly ajar for 2-1/2 to 3 hours, or until the meat is tender and the sauce is nicely thickened.

Ladle the stew into bowls serve with shredded cheese, cilantro, and lime wedges.

chili con carne in bowls with shredded cheese and limes

Video Tutorial

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Texas-Style Chili Con Carne

Tender chuck roast in a deeply-flavored and smoky sauce, Texas-style chili con carne is the ultimate beef chili.

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup ground ancho chili pepper
  • 1 tablespoon ground chipotle chili pepper
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ cup cornmeal
  • 1 (4-pound) beef chuck roast, trimmed of excess fat and cut into 1½-inch cubes (see note below)
  • 8 ounces (about 8 slices) bacon, cut into ¼-inch pieces (see tip below)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 small yellow onions, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 5 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 3 jalapeño chiles, cored, seeded and finely diced (see note)
  • 4 cups (32 oz) low-sodium beef broth
  • 2 cups water water, plus more for the chili paste and deglazing the pan
  • 1¼ cups lager beer
  • 1 cup canned crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon molasses, such as Grandma’s Original
  • 2 teaspoons natural unsweetened cocoa powder

Optional Garnishes

  • Fresh chopped cilantro
  • Shredded Cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese
  • Lime wedges

Instructions

  1. Mix the chili powders, cumin, oregano, coriander, cinnamon and cornmeal in a small bow and stir in ½ cup water to form a thick paste; set aside.
  2. Season the beef with the salt; set aside.
  3. In a large pot or Dutch oven, fry the bacon over medium heat, stirring frequently so it doesn’t stick, until the fat renders and the bacon crisps, about 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate. Pour all but a few teaspoons of fat from the pot into a small bowl; set aside.
  4. Increase the heat to medium-high. Sear the meat in three batches (it should be in a single layer), until well browned on one side, about 4 minutes per batch, adding more of the reserved bacon fat as necessary. (Hint: Once the meat is in the pan, don’t stir or touch it – leaving it alone will allow it to develop a nice brown crust on one side.) Place the seared meat on a plate. Add about ¼ cup of water to the pot (it will smoke), and scrape the bottom with a wooden spoon to release all of the flavorful brown bits. Pour the dark liquid over the seared meat.
  5. Reduce the heat to medium and add 3 tablespoons of the reserved bacon fat to the pot. Add the onions and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and jalapeños and cook 2 minutes more. Add the reserved chili paste and sauté until fragrant, a few minutes (it will look clumpy and stick to the bottom a bit – that’s okay).
  6. Add the beef broth and stir with a whisk until the spice mixture is completely dissolved. Scrape the bottom of the pot with the whisk to release any spices. Stir in the the water, beer, crushed tomatoes, molasses and cocoa powder. Add the reserved bacon and seared beef (along with the juices from the beef on the bottom of the plate) back to the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and cover, leaving the lid just barely ajar. Simmer, stirring occasionally so the bottom doesn’t burn, until the meat is meltingly tender and the juices are thickened, 2½ to 3 hours. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Ladle the chile con carne into bowls and serve with cilantro, cheese, and lime wedges.
  7. Note: When selecting the meat, be sure not to buy anything generically labeled “stew meat.” Also, you will lose about ½ pound after trimming the fat, so if you buy the meat already trimmed and cubed, you’ll only need about 3½ pounds.
  8. Tip: To make bacon easier to chop, try placing it in the freezer for 15 to 20 minutes first. The colder it is, the easier it is to cut.
  9. Note: Always be careful when handling jalapeño peppers. Wash your hands well when done and avoid touching your eyes.
  10. Freezer-Friendly Instructions: The chili can be frozen for up to 3 months. Before serving, defrost it in the refrigerator for 12 hours and then reheat it on the stovetop over medium heat until hot.

Pair with

Nutrition Information

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  • Per serving (6 servings)
  • Calories: 644
  • Fat: 32g
  • Saturated fat: 11g
  • Carbohydrates: 22g
  • Sugar: 7g
  • Fiber: 3g
  • Protein: 66g
  • Sodium: 1648mg
  • Cholesterol: 195mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

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