Colonel Titus’s Texas Longhorn Chili

This past weekend I made my old boss Arthur’s recipe for chili. I figured I’d put the recipe up online in case anyone else was interested in checking it out. So without further ado, let’s jump right in with the list of ingredients:

Chili Ingredients (See below for the recipe)

  • 2T Olive Oil
  • 3 lbs. of meat (I prefer 2 lbs. of stew beef and 1lb. of ground beef or pork)
    You can use any combination of meat here (all ground, all stew beef, 50/50, etc.). Personally, I like 2lbs stew beef and 1lb ground beef.
  • 4T Olive Oil
  • 4 cups chopped onion
  • 8 cloves of garlic, minced or crushed in a press
  • 9 fresh jalapenos: stemmed, seeded and minced.
    Remove the seeds and veins to lessen the heat. If you want to bring the heat down even more, you can use only 6 or 7 jalapenos. But don’t skimp on the dried chilis!
  • Dried chilis: 6 New Mexican, 5 Ancho, 4 Mulato, 4 Cascabel, 3 Pasilla, 3 Guajillo
    It can be difficult to find all the different varieties of chili peppers called for by the recipe. You can substitute chipotle or negro peppers. I generally ensure I have at least 4 different types of the ones listed as the threshold to make the recipe and then adjust the quantities as needed.
  • A 1 kilogram can of italian imported whole tomatoes, crushed lightly with a potato masher. Alternately, you can substitute italian crushed tomatoes in a 800g can if that’s all you can find.
  • 2 cups of beef stock or 1 can of condensed beef broth
  • 4 cups of beet stock or 4 cups of beef broth made from equal parts of condensed beef broth and dark beer
  • 4t coarse salt or 2t table salt
  • 2T ground cumin (from toasted seeds if possible)
  • 2T dried oregano (preferably Mexican)
  • 2t cayenne pepper
  • (Optional) 1 -2 oz unsweetend dark baking chocolate
  • Cooked pinto beans or other beans (See recipe below for Colonel Titus’s Black Beans)
    The black beans used in the chili are a separate recipe and are listed below. Arthur had told me that he stored the beans separate from the chili, since when mixed they tend to sour. I also tend to store them separate but for a different reason — not everyone likes beans in their chili, so this way they can be added as needed, to suit each person’s taste.
  • Serve with:
    • Crackers
    • Sour Cream
    • Shredded cheese
    • Minced onions or jalapenos

Black Bean Ingredients (See below for the recipe)

  • 1 lb black beans, picked over, rinsed and soaked in 10 cups of cold water for 8 – 12 hours or overnight
  • 2 onions — one peeled and halved, the other chopped
  • 2 large green peppers — one peeled and halved, the other chopped
  • 6T olive oil
  • 3 medium cloves of garlic, minced or crushed
  • 1/2 t cayenne pepper
  • 1 t ground cumin
  • 1/2 t ground, toasted coriander
  • 1/2 t ground bay or 1 whole bay leaf
  • 1/2 t ground oregano
  • 1/2 t ground black pepper
  • 1T coarse salt (or 1.5 t table salt)
  • 1/2 of a 6oz can of tomato paste (preferably Italian)
  • 1T red wine vinegar

Chili Recipe

First, you want to prepare the dried chilis. One thing to note when handling dried chilis: Your hands can and will be coated in capsaicin (the active ingredient in chilis that give them their heat). If you then touch your eyes without thinking, you are in for a bad time. For this reason, I always opt to wear disposable latex or neoprene gloves for the first part of the recipe. That way, I can remove the gloves and wash my hands once and I’m good. If you aren’t wearing gloves, you’ll want wash your hands very, very thoroughly. These chilis will hurt you.

Anyway, rinse the chilis in water then arrange them on a couple cookie sheets and toast them in the oven at 300 degrees for about 5 to 10 minutes to help bring out the flavor. You should be able to smell them in the oven when they’re ready to come out.

Dried chilis

Next, you will break apart the chili peppers by hand, while wearing gloves. Place the skin of the chilis in a bowl and discard the seeds and the veins from the inside guts of the chilis. This lets you get a lot of the flavor from the chilis (the skin) while limiting the amount of heat (seeds and veins). When you’re done, you will have a nice bowl of dried chili skins:

chili skins

You can discard your gloves now. The next step is to reconstitute the chilis. Prepare a sauce pan with the dried chilis, 2 cups of stock or beef broth/beer mixture and the crushed tomatoes. Bring the mixture to a boil then immediately turn it down to a bare simmer and simmer for 15 minutes. Then remove this mixture from the stove top and let sit, covered, for 15 minutes.

Next, you will transfer this mixture to a blender and puree it. Most likely, you will want to fill up the blender 2/3 to the top to leave plenty of room at the top and blend it in two batches. Don’t try to fit it all in 1 batch or it will overflow. When you’re done, give it a taste; the flavor of the chilis is amazing:

On to the meat. The last time I made this recipe, I used stew beef and ground beef from a local farmer’s market:

The trick with the stew beef is that you want to cut it into very, very small pieces — as small as your patience allows. I guess there is an element of personal preference here as some folks may like bigger chunks of meat in their chili. Personally, I like the texture of the combo of the ground beef with the tiny beef chunks:

Next, brown the meat in a skillet with 2T of olive oil. It doesn’t need to be well-done, medium is fine:

You’ll want to use a large stock pot for cooking the chili in. Set the meat aside and cook the onions, jalapenos and garlic with 4T of olive oil in the stock pot:

Once the vegetables are translucent, add the cooked meat, the chili/tomato mixture and the 4 cups of stock (or 2 cups broth/2 cups beer mix). Cook this for 2 hours or so on low heat. Then add the spices and cook another 2 -3 hours. If you are adding the unsweetend chocolate, add it an hour before you expect the chili to be done.

As you cook the chili over the course of the 4 – 5 hours, it will thicken and become less soup-like and get a much thicker consistency. If you find it has thickened too much and you want to cook it a little more, you can add more liquid in the form of water, beer or beef stock. Conversely, if you find when you are done that it isn’t thick enough for your liking, you can add some corn starch or masa harina dissolved in water to thicken it up.

Serve the chili with the following accompaniments: black beans (see below for the recipe), cheddar cheese, crackers and diced onions or jalapenos. Bon appetit:

Colonel T’s Black Beans Recipe

  1. Soaking water will be used for cooking. Beans should be cooked in a 5-qt pot. When ready to cook the beans, put the bay leaf, onion and pepper halves in pot, cover, bring to a boil, reduce immediately to a slow simmer and cook till tender but not mushy — 2.5 to 3.5 hours.
  2. When beans are cooked, remove and discard pepper and onion. Drain beans and reserve 2 1/4 cups of bean liquid. Put drained beans back in stew pot. Meanwhile, in a 2qt saucepan, heat 5T of olive oil, add chopped onions, peppers and garlic and cook until onions are translucent. When vegetables are soft, add the spices (except the salt). Stir and cook for 5 minutes then add the tomato paste and 1/4 cup of the reserved bean liquid. Mix well, bring back to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes.
  3. Dissolve the 1T coarse salt in the remaining bean liquid. Put 1 cup of the liquid in a blender or food processor, add the cooked vegetables and blend to a thick puree. Add this to the beans. Pour the remainder of the bean liquid in the blender to mix with the residue of the puree then add that to the beans.
  4. Stir well to combine the beans and puree. Put pot over heat, bring to a boil and reduce to simmer and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture has thickened. Remove from heat and stir in the vinegar. Then drizzle the remaining 1T olive oil over the beans and let stand 15 minutes. Allow to cool then store covered in the fridge. Like stew and chili, the beans are better if used the next day by reheating with a bit of water. They continue to improve for a few days then decline after the 7th day.

Serving suggestion for the beans: Try them with 1 cup of the beans, 1T ketchup and cooked, small pasta.