Texas Style Beef Chili – Myths Debunked!

At the Brass Buckle, we have no “secret recipes”.  There’s nothing secretive about the way we make our food; if you come in you’ll often see us hard at work in the steps of preparing almost every component of our entire menu from scratch, and we’ll never shy away from sharing with you our recipes, techniques, or things we’ve learned along the way.

But today, I’ll share a secret with you, and only because it seems that hardly anyone here in Massachusetts understands the truth – THERE ARE NO BEANS IN CHILI.

Or at least, not in a proper Texas Chili.  Don’t get me wrong, beans are great!  But in this Texas Style Beef Chili recipe, you will notice a lack of nonsense ingredients, such as chocolate, coffee, weird vegetables or grains…basically anything that might distract you from the true beef flavor, you don’t want it.  It might seem a little crazy, but it’s true.  So, presented to you here, today, is a walkthrough of how we make our Texas Style Beef Chili – there are a lot of little steps that may seem silly or strange, but trust me, the end result is magnificent, best enjoyed with a chunk of cornbread and a sunset, if you’ve got it.

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 First off, your ingredients (keep in mind, the pictures you see here are for the restaurant, a little more than double what this recipe calls for):

2 lbs. beef chuck, cut into half-inch cubes
1 lb. beef brisket, cubed
1 med. white onion, diced
2 T. chili powder (we make our own, and you should too, but GOOD QUALITY store-bought is fine. remember, this is BEEF. CHILI.)
1-2 jalapenos, seeded and finely diced  (if you’re nuts about the heat, you can add something crazy like a ghost pepper)
1 T garlic powder
1 T ground cumin
1 lb. roasted, quartered plum tomatoes OR 1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 cup masa harina (a corn flour used for making tortillas – you can substitute 1 cup crushed corn tortilla chips)
1 bottle pale beer, such as Narragansett

The first step is to take the cubed meat and toss it in a bowl with a splash of canola oil, salt and pepper to taste.  Working in batches, and using the pot you plan to make the chili in, brown the beef over medium high heat.  Set aside and add the onions to the pan, stirring to break up any bits of beef stuck to the bottom of the pan, and sauté for 8 minutes, or until they turn translucent.   Add the ground spices and jalapeno and stir to incorporate. IMG_20130418_140545At this point your pan should have working a strong, flavorful base of onions cooking in beef fat and juices; the spices you’ve just added are marrying with the onions and developing their flavor; the aroma wafting up should be making you hungry, but WAIT! This next step is pretty fun.  Stir in the masa harina or the corn chips, the beer and the tomatoes.  This will bubble up and thicken and will serve as the liquid base for the chili.
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Seems skimpy, huh?  You’re worried there’s not going to be enough liquid, and that’s okay! But give us a second here.  Add the beef to the pot and give that a stir, how does it look?  It should be thick, for sure, but there needs to be enough liquid so that through its long cooking time there’s enough moisture to simmer and bubble and reduce to a lovely consistency.  If you’re feeling the need for a little more liquid, go ahead – add some more beer, tomatoes, water, or beef stock, but not too much!!   Turn the heat down – WAY DOWN –  and put the lid on.  We’re going to let this sit for about two and a half hours with occasional stirring to let these tough cuts of meat soften to a fall-apart consistency.  If the temperature is too high, the meat will seize up and be tough.  If it’s low enough, this stuff should fall apart at the slightest touch, and that’s the ideal. IMG_20130418_140827

And here you can rest…for a while.  The chili, sadly, won’t be ready for some time.   If it were up to me, I’d have you take that chili once it was done, and let it sit in the fridge overnight. When it gets reheated the next day, the flavors have had more time to settle and I find the heat of the chilies to be less severe.  But if you just can’t help it, now’s a good time to make yourself a batch of cornbread.  I’ve got my favorite recipe, do you???

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