Texas Chili Con Carne

Texas Chili con Carne

We're big fans of Happy Valley Meat Company's beef around here.  They work with independent ranchers from around Pennsylvania and New York to source the kind of beef you want to eat - the kind that treats both animals and workers with respect, producing both sustainable careers and uniquely delicious beef for consumers.

I like this chili recipe because it emphasizes the natural flavor of their beef - the better the beef you use here, the better the chili.  It's largely adapted from J. Kenji Lopez-Alt's chili recipe - it's a great base to start from, letting the beef and onions form the backbone of the flavor.

This is also when it helps to have a cabinet full of Burlap & Barrel's spices, in particular Wild Mountain Cumin.  Out of the jar it's deeply fragrant, carrying a weight that can stand up to the beef and onions - as it cooks the flavor mellows into the background to provide a great backdrop for the remaining spices to add color and texture.

We made a few adjustments to the original, but mostly given that we're away from home in quarantine mode.  We used chiles de arbol and chopped the chilies rather than pasting them, which gave it some different textures and pockets of heat throughout the chili.  We also added coffee grounds and Helltown Mischievous Brown Ale....figured beer, beef and coffee are getting us through the pandemic, so let's get em all in the same room and see how they do.

Texas Chili con Carne

Soak the Chilies: Soak the dried chilies in warm water at least 30 minutes before you plan to cook them.  When they are soaked and pliable, remove them, drain the water, deseed the chilies, and roughly chop them.  Set aside for now.

Sear the Beef: Heat a pot with a small amount of oil in the pan until the oil just starts to smoke.  Season the beef liberally with salt and black pepper, and sear in a single layer for 4-5 minutes.  Do not move the beef while it is searing, and do not overcrowd the pot.  Remove the beef and repeat with the remaining beef. 

It does not need to be cooked through, and should not be anything more than browned on the surface at this stage - you're just looking to establish a caramelized flavor in the base of the chili at this stage.

Cook the Veg & Spices: Finely chop the onion, and add it to the pot over medium-high heat.  Add a large pinch of salt.  You aren't looking to caramelize the onions, just to cook them through. 

After 5 minutes, add the garlic, cumin, chili powder, coffee, cinnamon and chilies.  Add a pinch of salt.  Let these all cook on medium-high heat for minute, then add the stock and beer. 

Simmer: Bring the chili to a boil, then turn down to low heat.  Place a lid on the pot and simmer until the beef is completely tender - the longer and lower you can cook the beef at this stage, the better, but do not overcook or boil aggressively.

About thirty minutes before you plan to serve, add the flour to a cup, and ladle in enough stock to completely cover the flour.  Stir aggressively and break up any clumps that form.  Pour through a fine strainer back into the chili, whisking constantly to break up any clumps.  Let it simmer a bit more on low heat.  If you need it to be thicker, repeat.

Season to taste and serve with the garnishes.  Gets better with age, so make enough for leftovers.


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