I used to think that chili was, well, just chili – some mince, a couple of spices and a can of beans. Oh how wrong I was. There’s a whole world of different chili’s out there, all with their own set of methods and rules. Yes, rules. Fierce debate around beans or no beans, mince or beef chunks and the spicing is always raging. From what I can tell Texas chili is made with beef chunks rather than mince and has no beans. I love the idea of the meat chunks but I can’t do without the beans which is why I titled this post “Texas-Style” Chili because I have indeed included beans and no doubt broken a hundred other chili laws. I’ll probably never be allowed to enter the state of Texas again!
This chili is not a quick meal to make. It does take a little time but don’t be put off by that or the long list of ingredients because the effort is well worth it. The flavours are deep and complex and the meat fork tender after the long braising time. This dish has some kick to it but it won’t blow your head off. I’d say it’s only medium-hot and next time I’ll make it slightly spicier because once it’s served with the sides of avocado and sour cream some of the heat becomes beautifully mellowed. Speaking of sides please don’t skip the pickled red onions. It cuts through the richness of the chili so well and it’s vinegary crunch is a great textural contrast to the soft meat.
Ingredients – serves 4-6
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 medium or 2 large sausages – uncooked chorizo or spicy Italian are both good but anything with lots of flavour
1kg beef shin cut into bite size pieces
2 red onions, diced
8 cloves of garlic, minced
1 long red chilli, diced – use smaller hotter chilli’s if you want more heat
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon mexican chili powder
½ teaspoon chipotle powder
1 heaped tablespoon of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
2 heaped tablespoons brown sugar
¼ cup cider vinegar
1 cup beef stock
1 400g tin black beans, reserve the juice
1 bottle of beer
2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
Pickled Red Onions
2 red onions, finely sliced
2⁄3 cup cider vinegar
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons sugar
Heat the oil in a large saucepan or dutch oven. Crumble the sausages from their casings and add to the pan. Cook stirring frequently until golden brown. Remove and set aside. Add beef to the pan and fry until seared. Season with a generous pinch of salt and remove. Add onions to the pan along with another pinch of salt and cook until soft and starting to brown, add more oil to the pan if you need to. Add the garlic, the fresh chilli and a splash of water and fry for a few more minutes scraping the bottom of the pan.
Add the cumin, oregano, paprika, chilli powder, chipotle powder and peppers, cayenne pepper and smoked paprika. Stir well and cook for a couple of minutes. Add the vinegar and brown sugar and stir again. Add the meat and sausages back to the pan along with the beef stock, beer and the juice from the can of black beans. Bring to a simmer. Cover the pan and let it simmer over a low heat for 2 hours.
Whilst the chill is cooking make the pickled onions by mixing all the ingredients together and placing them in a shallow bowl so the onions are mostly covered by the liquid. Leave to sit for at least an hour and give them a mix every know and then to make sure all the onions are sitting in the vinegar. After the chili has simmered for 2 hours add the black beans and cook uncovered for 30 minutes. Add the cocoa powder and check the seasoning, adding more salt if required and cook for a further 10-15 minutes. Increase your heat at this stage if there’s too much liquid – you just want enough sauce to coat the meat. Serve hot with sides of sour cream. avocado, corn chips and the pickled red onions.