Long before Texas became a U.S. state, the “Chili Queens” of San Antonio would sell their chilies from outdoor kettles in the old Military square.
A Bowl of Red – Chili lovers are often surprised to learn that the famous southern Texas Bowl of Red is often made without tomatoes, and beans are always served on the side. Chili champions from the Lone Star State may claim to add any number of secret ingredients to their creations—from coffee grounds to rattlesnake meat—but the rich red sauce color comes from sun-ripened chili peppers.
1 cup flour
2 pounds beef shoulder, cut into cubes
1 pound pork shoulder, cut into cubes
1 cup bacon fat
2 large onions, diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup chicken or beef broth (I prefer beer)
4 cups water (or maybe some more beer?)
4 dried ancho chili peppers
3 dried New Mexico chili peppers
3 dried serrano chili peppers
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
1. Toss flour with beef and pork until meat is lightly coated. In a large, heavy saucepan or Dutch oven, heat bacon fat over medium-high heat. Brown beef and pork; add onions and garlic. Cook 2–3 minutes, or until onions soften.
2. Add broth, (or beer); stir well. Lower heat to medium; simmer 20 minutes, stirring often.
3. Add 2 cups water, (or more beer). While meat mixture continues to simmer, remove stems and seeds from dried peppers. Cut peppers into pieces; place in a heat-safe bowl. Bring remaining 2 cups water to a boil; pour over chilies. Let stand 20 minutes.
4. Remove chilies from water with slotted spoon; place in food processor or blender with small amount of soaking water. Pulse to purée; add to simmering meat.
5. Add cumin and oregano; stir well. Simmer uncovered 2 hours. Stir often; add water, (or more beer), if chili becomes too dry.
(Serves 6–8, depending upon how many hungry teenagers are present)
Note: It just doesn’t pay to get in a hurry when you are making chili *any* time, but when you are using cubed, rather than ground, meat – this becomes especially important. Diced meats simply take longer cooking times to tenderize, plus slow cooking allows seasonings and flavors to meld more completely, making a richer, fuller-tasting chili. While the beer is optional as an ingredient, always remember a happy cook makes better tasting food. Just ask me! 8)