There’s perhaps no other single food group that is more Texan than chili. Over the years the Dallas Morning News has tested many recipes and talked to many Tex-perts on what constitutes a real big bowl of red.
These are three favorite chili recipes from the newspaper’s archives, including one from America’s former first lady, Lady Bird Johnson.
THIS RECIPE for Pedernales River chili, first published in 1990, is credited to Lady Bird Johnson, a Texas native and first lady during the presidency of husband Lyndon Baines Johnson.
On occasion the first lady had real Texas chili flown to the White House. The recipe is named for a river that runs through LBJ Ranch.
PEDERNALES RIVER CHILI
By Lady Bird Johnson
- 4 pounds chili meat (see note)
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 teaspoon ground oregano
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 6 teaspoons chili powder (more, if desired)
- 1-1/2 cups canned whole tomatoes
- 2 to 3 generous dashes hot pepper sauce (see notes)
- Salt, to taste
- 2 cups hot water
Place meat, onions and garlic in large, heavy skillet or Dutch oven. Cook until lightly colored.
Add oregano, cumin seed, chili powder, tomatoes, hot pepper sauce, salt and water. Bring to boil, lower heat and simmer about 1 hour. Skim fat during cooking. Serves 8.
>> Note: Substitutes for hot pepper sauce (or additions if some like it hot) include fresh jalapenos or cayenne pepper. And the Johnson definition of acceptable chili meat is coarsely ground round steak or well-trimmed chuck.
Nutritional information unavailable.
T.J. CANNON won the world-famous Terlingua International Chili Championship in 2012, beating out 304 other competitors.
Contest chili is required to have a smooth gravy, which is why you’ll not see any fresh onions, tomatoes, etc., included here.
Cannon uses garlic powders and chili powders for consistency, so her chili can taste the same every time.
T.J. CANNON’S AWARD WINNING CHILI
By T.J. Cannon (Originally published Feb. 13, 2013)
- 2 pounds ground chuck
- 1 (14.5-ounce) can beef broth
- 1 (14.5-ounce) can chicken broth
- 1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
- 2 serrano peppers
- First Dump (recipe follows)
- Second Dump (recipe follows)
In a 4-quart pot, brown meat; then drain it and set aside. Remove all grease from the pot and add both broths and tomato sauce.
Poke holes in serranos with a sharp knife and add them to the pot. Bring to a boil; add the first set of spices (First Dump) and return meat to pot.
>> First Dump: Combine 2 teaspoons dried onion powder, 1/4 teaspoon cayenne, 2 teaspoons EACH dried beef and chicken bouillon, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1-1/2 teaspoons dried garlic powder, 2 tablespoons light chili powder (such as McCormick) and 2 teaspoons dark chili powder (such as Mexene).
Boil on medium-high for 25 minutes, or until meat is tender; turn off heat. Squeeze juice from peppers into the pot and discard peppers.
Let chili rest 30 minutes, then return to a boil, adding more broth if needed. Add Second Dump of spices and boil over medium heat for 20 minutes.
>> Second Dump: Combine 1 tablespoon cumin, 1/2 teaspoon dried garlic powder, 1/8 teaspoon Hot Stuff seasoning (available online, or use a mix of black pepper and cayenne), 1/8 teaspoon cayenne, 2 tablespoons light chili powder, 1 tablespoon dark chili powder and 1/8 teaspoon brown sugar.
Taste and adjust seasonings with salt, chilies and and chili powder. Serves 6.
Approximate nutritional information, per serving: 327 calories, 17 g total fat, 6 g saturated fat, 92 mg cholesterol, 1,675 mg sodium, 2 g fiber, 10 g carbohydrate, 31 g protein.
IN A departure from the conventional, Peter Schaar, a garden designer and retired mathematician, decided to retool the Texas classic. His chili contains no masa (ground corn), no exotic chili blends, no beer, no secret spices.
In truth, it bears more kinship to a Mexican beef soup than a Texas prize winner.
Yet, when Schaar proclaims that, “After you taste this, you’ll never make it your way again,” he’s not just doing a Texas swagger.
His chili — a simple stew of tender beef bites in a chili-infused, beefy broth redolent with cumin, garlic and oregano — is that good.
PETER SCHAAR’S CHILI
By Peter Schaar (Originally published Jan. 4, 2009)
- 1/2 cup lard or bacon fat (divided)
- 3 tablespoons dried piquin chilies (see notes)
- 3 pounds grass-fed beef stew meat
- 1/2 white or sweet onion, chopped
- 1/2 cup minced garlic
- 1/4 cup dried, stemmed and chopped Mexican or Greek oregano (divided)
- 1 (32-ounce) carton beef broth
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 (4-ounce) jar ancho chili paste (see notes)
- 1 heaping tablespoon ground cumin
- Limes, for serving
Heat 1/4 cup lard or fat in a Dutch oven or other heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high. Add piquins briefly to hot fat. After a few moments, remove and discard skins; some of the seeds will remain in the fat.
Working in batches, sear meat in the hot fat. Do not let the pieces of meat touch or the meat will stew in its own juices instead of searing. Remove the pieces to drain on a brown paper package or paper towels.
Remove hot pot from heat for 3 to 4 minutes to partially cool.
Return pot to medium-high heat and add remaining lard or fat. Add onion and saute 2 to 3 minutes.
Add garlic and continue to saute. Add half the oregano, drained meat and broth. Add salt and stir in ancho paste. Sprinkle with cumin, then add remaining oregano and stir to blend.
Bring stew to boil and let it boil several minutes.
Reduce heat and simmer 2 to 3 hours, uncovered, stirring occasionally. Turn off heat. Let chili cool, then refrigerate overnight.
When ready to serve, skim and discard fat, which will have risen to the top. Reheat chili and serve with lime quarters to squeeze over each serving. Serves 4-6.
>> Note: Habanero or serrano chiles may be substituted for the piquins, and another chili paste for the ancho paste.
Nutritional information unavailable.