Honest to Goodness Chili

The real deal folks…

Funny how a name will stick to a certain thing you cook. Casseroles you make and take to church become ‘Church Casserole’, a hearty beef & potato pot pie takes on the name ‘Dad’s Favorite’ or a raisin cookie given to an infant becomes ‘Crybaby’. Then you have to wonder how some foods are really named, ‘Shoe Fly Pie’ for instance, ‘Spotted Dick’, ‘Toad in the Hole’, ‘Welsh Rarebit’ or some I really don’t want an answer to like ‘Poop Fire Chicken’ or that dish with chipped beef & gravy over toast. You know the one. And then there is always a recipe, one you just make up and everyone seems to like but it has no real name or no one will ever bother to remember … think ‘Beef Amnesia’.

This recipe is sort of like that, a chili recipe that I have always just called, ‘My Chili’, not original but hey, everyone loves it. Well, one time while sitting at the table, a friend inquired what all was in it and how I went about making it. It tasted so rustic, so cow-boyish, he said. I hand chop my own meat I replied, at least most of it and several other little secrets that old cowboys have passed along in now old, worn-out, some out-of-print recipes. Think cooking on the trail, over an open fire – the real deal in western chili. “Honest to goodness?” he asked. “Honest to goodness.” I replied. Funny how a name sticks around…. Enjoy!

Honest to Goodness Chili
this will make a big ol’ pot of goodness, enough for company or to freeze for later – it is pretty much the same recipe as ‘My Chili’ in my cookbook but I have changed the cooking method

one secret starts with the meat
sliced thin

2 pounds beef roast -like sirloin tip, rump or shoulder
1 pound center cut pork loin
2 pounds ground chuck beef, chili ground if available
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons AP flour
cooking oil

1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon paprika

dredged & seasoned

1 tablespoon chipotle chili powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 -25 oz can petite diced tomatoes
1 -15 oz can tomato sauce
1 -6 oz can tomato paste
2 -14 oz cans chicken broth
1 -10.5 oz can condensed beef broth

1 pound dried pinto beans, soaked & cooked tender -see below

browned & chopped

4 tablespoons Mexican chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red pepper

Slice the beef roast into 1/4-inch slices. If using center cut pork chops, slice in half horizontally, otherwise, slice loin in 1/4-inch slices. Trim away any fat from both meats. Mix the pepper, salt, brown sugar and flour together with your hands to combine into a powder. Dredge the sliced meats in the seasoning.

Heat a large, heavy skillet over medium high heat. Add a couple tablespoons of oil and cover the bottom with a layer of the seasoned meat. Brown on both sides turning once. The desire is to put a caramelized coating on the meat over high heat but be careful not to burn the sucs or browned coating of fond in the bottom of the pan. Remove cooked meat to a paper lined plate to drain and continue cooking remaining sliced meat adding more oil as needed. In the same skillet, cook the ground beef stirring along the bottom to loosen the flavorful brown sucs. Drain the grease off and set meat aside.  Dice the browned slices of beef & pork into 1/4-inch pieces, add to the cooked ground beef.

Add the cooked meats to a large dutch oven or stockpot. Stir in the next 10 ingredients and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and cook for 1 1/2 hours stirring every so often.

Stir in the last 4 ingredients and return to a low simmer. Check seasonings and adjust salt if needed or others to suit your taste. I normally add a tad more chipotle chili powder. This last addition of spice is to layer in more flavor, to bind of sorts while intensifying the seasonings essence without creating a bitter aftertaste that overcooking chili powder can sometimes do. Simmer on lowest setting for another hour.

Note: If you like thick chili, as we sometimes do, mix a couple tablespoons of corn mesa with a little water and stir into the chili about 15 minutes before serving. We like our chili garnished with chopped green onions, shredded cheese and a dollop of sour cream. Oh, and with hot buttered cornbread muffins of course.

Soaked & Cooked Tender Beans? ~ I prepare dried beans two ways. When I think ahead I cook them in a slow cooker overnight with seasonings, on a warm setting and then a few hours the next day on low. Or if I forget, I use the stove-top/oven method that does the same in a couple of hours. The oven seems to work better than using just the stove, making a faster, tender pot of beans. Here’s how: cover the washed beans with about 2-inches of water in a dutch oven with a tight fitting lid. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Add your seasonings (don’t forget the vinegar, see Red Beans & Rice) and heat on the stove over high heat until the water just starts to simmer. Place in the oven and cook for 90 minutes. Stir and check the tenderness of the beans. If needed, cook another 15 minutes or until beans are tender for your recipe. Drain and you’re ready to go.

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