Sunday, December 12, 2010

Texas Chili: To Bean or Not To Bean

Texas Chili is a very personal recipe for those of us who live in the Lone Star State. Everyone has "their own" version of the meaty, sometimes spicy stew. It's served up in so many different ways: with beans, on top of fritos, topped with cheese, topped with onions. 

I was in the mood to cook up a winter dish and I had my mind made up on a thick Irish Stew with cubed chuck, carrots, onions, celery and potatoes all cooked in a red wine sauce. I had even made it TO THE GROCERY store this morning when Jim says to me that he really felt like a bowl of chili for lunch. Chili?? I have never written my own recipe for chili, although that task is quickly rising to the top of my to-do list. When we go camping I like to use our leftover breakfast meat and make a pot of chili by adding a can of beans, a can of tomatoes and a packet of chili spices. I realize this isn't REAL chili, but when you are camping and it's cold out, a pot of this will warm you right up.

I went ahead and purchased the ingredients I needed for Irish Stew, but I couldn't pass up the opportunity to make all Jim's dreams of chili come true...and there was a buy one get one free at my HEB for Texas Two-Step Chili Mix. It's made with Hatch Chiles right here in Austin, Texas and boasts an all natural ingredient list including tomato juice and tomato puree, green chiles, fresh onion, garlic, masa, cumin, sugar, ancho pepper puree, jalapeno and spices. I thought I would give it a shot and rate this product here on my blog.

The cooking instructions are simple. Brown one pound of ground beef and add the contents of the jarred chile mix, simmer until hot.

I wanted to customize the mix a little, so I began by chopping a yellow onion and cooking over medium heat until almost translucent, then I added a teaspoon of garlic. In my ingredient picture above, notice the new garlic I found at my grocery store, Spice World came out with a squeeze bottle!

Instead of ground beef, I used one pound of ground turkey meat. I don't think anyone can really tell the difference so I almost always use turkey.

I seasoned the ground meat with my "house mix" of salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder and "other stuff." Then I added the sauteed onions and garlic.

The second step in the Texas Two-Step Chili Mix is to add the jar of sauce and spices.

Right off the bat, I thought it smelled heavily of tomato and not enough of spice. I will have to stir, taste, add seasoning, stir, taste, add seasoning...repeat... until it's perfect.

There is a lot of debate whether proper Texas chili has beans or not. I like the taste and texture of beans in my chili and I believe it helps to stretch the meal as well. You could add any type of bean you prefer.

 I chose the pinto because it was what I had on hand.

Here is the taste, season and repeat part. After the beans were stirred in I ended up adding a good pinch of red pepper flakes and somewhere between 1/2 and 1 teaspoon of chipotle chili powder.

In our house we start with a handful of fritos, a ladle of hot chili and then a generous topping of shredded cheddar cheese.

The Texas Two-Step Chili Mix by Cookwell & Company makes a pretty good bowl of chili, but I'm confident I could do it better from scratch. I will start working on my recipe and post on HWM once it's complete.

I would love to hear from you... How do you make your chili? Does it have beans? What are your preferred toppings?


  1. I've always grown up being told that true Texas chili does not have beans.

  2. Fourth generation Texan and our chili has beans. Just a family thing from a Panhandle girl.

  3. So funny- I bought the TX 2 Step meal deal this weekend and whipped up some chili too. I have made chili from scratch as well- and I think mine is better- although the TX 2 Step wasn't bad... I just prefer mine chunkier with more veggies in it.
    We don't use beans- but I do like chili with beans- soooo ???
    You know who has some good chili?? Check out the chili at Uncle Billy's- good!!!

  4. Growing up in East Texas, we didn't always put beans in our chili, but rice IS a must for our family. Married to a Central TX guy and beans are a must now...

  5. yum, i love all versions of chili!

    a few of my faves:
    easy turkey chili:
    sweet potato chili:
    white chicken chili:

    you just can't go wrong with chili ;)

  6. Beans or no beans really depends on whether you are making competition chili. Official CASI rules say "NO FILLERS IN CHILI - Beans, macaroni, rice, hominy, or other similar ingredients are not permitted." So, unless you're trying to qualify for Terlingua, make it however tastes best.


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