Real Texas Beef Chili

Real Texas Beef Chili

I didn’t have my first real bowl of chili until I was 28. And it’s a damn shame too. Years of filling my recipes with tomatoes, beans, lentils, corn and ground turkey. I apologize to my stomach for this wrong doing. Texas does it right, focusing on the chilies and the meat to get the most flavor out of one bowl. The recipe calls for making your own chili paste and I recommend giving it a shot. It’s a few extra steps but I was so proud when I scooped out that beautiful red blend.

Since this recipe is all meat, pair it with a mixed greens salad and mashed cauliflower to make a complete meal. Oh, and don’t forget to top if off with avocado.

Real Texas Beef Chili
Real Texas Beef Chili
Real Texas Beef Chili
Chili Paste:

2 oz dried, whole ancho or poblano chiles – 6-8 chiles
1 ½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp fresh black pepper
1 tsp Kosher salt
¼ cup water

5 tbsp lard or beef tallow
3 lbs grass-fed boneless beef chuck – trimmed and cut into 3/4-inch cubes (or you can buy pre-cubed stew meat, which is what my butcher sells)
½ cup onion – finely chopped
3-4 garlic cloves – minced
2 cups beef stock
2 cups water
4 tbsp arrow root flour
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp lime juice

►To make the chili paste, heat the dried chilies in a heavy cast iron pan or dutch oven over medium-low. Lightly brown on each side for 2 minutes, careful not to burn them. Remove from heat and place chilies in a deep bowl covering with boiling water. Allow to soak for at least 20 minutes.
►Drain the chilies, split each, remove stems and all seeds. Run them over a bit of room temp water to remove seeds.
►In a food processor combine chilies, cumin, pepper, salt and water. Grind until pureed and smooth and  forms a slightly liquified paste. Set aside.
►Heat 2 tbsp of lard over medium-high heat in a large dutch oven. Coat the entire bottom of the pan with the fat then add in 1 lb of meat. Brown on all sides for 2-3 minutes. Remove beef from pan and place into a bowl away from the stove. Repeat this entire process with the remaining meat, making sure to add 2 tbsp of lard each time. Browning the meat lightly in lard before cooking seals in the juices of the beef.
►Using the same pot, sauté the onions and garlic in 1 tbsp lard over medium heat for 3 minutes. Add in the stock and water. Once well heated, scoop out 1 cup of the liquid into a small bowl. Gradually add in the arrow root, stirring briskly to avoid any lumps. Add back into the pot, stirring to combine.
►Stir in the chili paste, mixing well. Add the beef (and any juices in the bowl) and bring all to a boil. Then immediately reduce heat to a low simmer and cook covered for about 2 hours. When you keep the heat at a slow simmer, you’ll produce the most tender and flavorful beef. Boiling toughens the meat so reduce quickly.
►The liquid will reduce to about half and become thick. If it’s too thin, add more arrow root flour, but use the same method as before to avoid any lumps.
►Once you’re happy with the consistency, stir in the maple syrup, vinegar and lime. Simmer for 10 minutes and then turn off the heat. Allow to sit for 30 minutes so the beef can absorb more of the liquid.
►Serve with chopped red onion, avocado and a squeeze of lime.

*This recipe was modified from Epicurious’ True Texas Chili in September 2009.

Fall Spice Pumpkin Chili

 Fall Spice Pumpkin Chili

On Sunday, I made my annual trip to the pumpkin patch and we came home with bushels of produce! There are still so many pumpkin recipes in the works and it was perfect inspiration. The best part is that the farm we visited uses organic standards for everything they grow. Hooray for no pesticides in our food!

I created this pumpkin chili recipe in anticipation of chilly fall evenings around the corner. The ingredients are simple and I like to load it up with veggies to up the antioxidant benefits. Pumpkin adds creaminess and also balances out the acidity of the tomatoes.  Since I generally only cook for two, I froze more than half to whip out on a lazy week night. The flavors will only enhance the longer it sits so it’s an excellent freezer meal.In this dish, the pumpkin grabs your attention but the beef is the star of the show. Make sure your beef is the best quality you can buy. You want beef from grass-fed cows, raised humanely. Not only will the flavor be quite different from conventional meat, the nutritional benefits far exceed it. If you’re still on the fence about eating red meat, have no fear and read Chris Kresser’s post, Red Meat: It Does a Body Good!Fall Spice Pumpkin Chili
Grass-fed v. Conventional Beef (Grain-fed)

♦ Grass-fed has 2-5 times more omega 3s.
♦ Grass-fed contains higher amounts of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which  has potent antioxidant activity.
♦ Cows create Vitamin K2 when they consume grass. Our bodies easily absorb this when we eat beef, which has incredible benefits. K2 is responsible for distributing calcium throughout the body leading to improved bone density.
♦ Grass-fed are typically raised on pasture and under humane practices.
♦ Grass-fed cows receive little to no antibiotics and no growth hormones.
The list of environmental benefits for grass-fed is numerous. NRDC created a Top 10 List.
♦ Conventional farming methods feed cows grain, which they cannot digest. This inability to digest leads to illness and the intake of antibiotics. Beef adds to our over-exposure of antibiotics.
Antibiotics used in food animals can result in resistant Salmonella. A report from the Pew Charitable Trust calls out,  “recognizing that antibiotic resistance is a threat to Americans’ health and economic and national security from within and beyond our borders.”
♦ Beef from conventionally raised cows are more susceptible to E-Coli infection.

Tips for Buying Grass-Fed 

♦ Get to know your local farmers and frequent your farmers market.
♦ Ask your friends to split a cow share with you and invest in a deep freezer.
♦ How to buy and store a side of beef:
♦ For sources of grass-fed beef:

♦ How to find a local rancher:


Red Meat It Does a Body Good!

Why Grass Fed Trumps Grain Fed

Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations

Why Vitamin K2 is Important and How to Get It

National Strategy for Combating Antibiotic Resistance

Grass Fed Beef and Heart Disease

The Controversy Over Added Hormones in Meat and Dairy

Fall Spice Pumpkin Chili

Makes 6 servings.

1.5 lbs grass-fed ground beef
1 medium onion – chopped
3 cloves garlic – minced
3 carrots – chopped
five turnips with greens – chopped
2 tsp salt
4 cups baby heirloom tomatoes – sliced in half
1 cup beef broth
1 cup water
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp chili powder

​1 cup pumpkin puree

►In an 8 quart dutch oven over medium-high heat, brown ground beef for 6 minutes until medium doneness.
►Remove meat from pot with a slotted spoon to leave the fat remaining. Over medium heat, saute onion and garlic in beef fat for 3 minutes. Then add in carrots, turnips, greens and 1 tsp salt. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring throughout.
►Add tomatoes, beef broth, water, cinnamon, chili powder, and remaining salt. Stir to combine. Cover and cook for 15 minutes.
►Bring heat to medium-high. Stir in pumpkin and beef, then cook for 8 more minutes.
►Remove from heat and ladle into bowls. Top with mini heirloom tomatoes and a dash of cinnamon.