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.

Fegato alla Veneziana (Liver & Onions)

It happened the first time while watching cartoons with my cousin. My grandmother brought us a huge plate of liver and onions. I was seven. Most kids my age would have turned up their noses. I was a strange kid though. I loved everything I was supposed to hate and vise versa. A few of my favorite foods included turtle soup and oysters. Pizza, french fries and ketchup were never on my plate. They just weren’t in my palate. I wanted the “adult’ food. So my grandmother made me liver and onions as a test. This was sadly to the detriment of my cousin who’s diet solely consisted of spaghetti o’s and chicken fingers. The liver and onions were all for me and I ate every last bite of that delicious dish.

That was my one and only liver encounter for the next 20 years until I learned about the nutrient density of this super food. Liver contains an exceedingly high concentration of nutrients in one small serving. Katie at Wellness Mama has answered all the FAQs and more about liver in one excellent post. She’s listed out all that liver provides and why it should be a part of your weekly diet. A few of these include: high levels of B12 vitamin, the most concentrated food source of vitamin A and it’s our best source of copper. Next time you need an energy boost, reach for some liver instead of that afternoon coffee fix.

I know most people are quick to discard organ meats and get grossed out by them. But really, if you look back two generations, many families consumed offal more often than muscle meat. It packed triple the amount of nourishment for their dollars and would sustain them longer.

Even if you think you hate liver, just try this recipe. It may surprise you and your own liver will thank you.

Liver and Onions
Makes 2 servings.

1 lb chicken livers
3 pieces of bacon – chopped
1 onion – chopped
1 tbsp garlic – minced
1 tsp fresh sage – chopped
2 tbsp dry white wine
1 cup chicken stock
2 tsp salt
2 tsp pepper

►Cook the chopped bacon in a large frying pan until crispy. Remove the bacon and pour off half of the grease. Reserve this for cooking the liver.
►Using the same frying pan, over medium heat, sauté onions with 1/2 tsp salt in half of the bacon grease. ►Once the onions are translucent, add the garlic, sage and white wine. Reduce the liquid down over low heat, 3-5 minutes.
►Add the bacon back into the pan, pour in the chicken stock and cook over low heat. The liquid will reduce almost completely.

►Season each piece of liver with salt and pepper.
►In a separate pan, add 1 tbsp of bacon grease over medium-high heat. Place each piece of liver in the pan and cook on each side for 2-3 minutes, until golden brown.
►Toss in the cooked onions and bacon. Sauté together a bit and serve immediately.