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~ Steak My Day: Texas-Style Bowl-of-Red Steak Chili ~

IMG_4278About this time every year, as soon as the frost is on the pumpkin so-to-speak, a pot of chili is simmering on my stovetop.  There's nothing to think about.  The first frost, the pot comes out. Chilly weather requires chili.  This year I'm making my version of what Texans hang their cowboys hats on:  steak chili.  It's decidedly different from my Wendy's copycat ground beef chili con carne, hatch green chile chili with pork and white beans, white-out white chicken 'n corn chili, slow-cooker sweet potato and ground beef chili, and, Cincinnati-style chili.  

As the Texans say, I'm in the mood for a "bowl-of-Texas-red". 

What does a bowl-of-Texas-red consist of?  The short-version the foodie authorities give is: tender, fork-tender stewed chunks or slices of beef steak, swimming in a spicy, masa (corn flour)-thickened cumin and chile-pepper-laced deep-red sauce made from dried red chiles and/or red chile pepper -- amongst purists, tomato products are frowned upon, but beans 100% disqualify it from steak-chili status. Personally, I find that to be a backwards argument, since, on the long cattle drives, the chuck wagon, which had no refrigeration, was not stocked with perishables. Fresh tomatoes were not on board (I cannot vouch for sun-dried tomatoes, which were available), but, dried beans most certainly were.  I can't imagine not using them.

Texas steak chili, the legislated official state dish, is said to have been invented in San Antonio (the part of Texas I am most familiar with).  As any Texan will tell you, if you're not Texas born, you're not preparing the real-deal -- I can live with that, I've never wanted to be from Texas.

What do I know about making authentic Texas steak chili?

IMG_4290Simmer down.  Enough to be pretty kick-ass dangerous.  

Texas chili is essentially a chile-flavored beef stew -- that's how it was explained to me by the woman and friend who taught me how to make it.  Antoinette (Toni) was Mexican-American and hailed from San Antonio.  Toni made her Texas beef chili using chuck roast.  I'm making my Texas steak chili using ribeye steak.  Both have the requisite marbling which will render fork-tender meat, with the latter producing a chunked, rather than shredded end result -- the choice is yours.

Toni seasoned her beef chili using a head-spinning quantity of whole, dried chiles that were pulverized into a powder and mixed together with other native-to-Mexican-cuisine spices.  She had access to them here in my state of Pennsylvania, because her relatives mailed them to her.  I save tons of time (and eliminate the mess) by purchasing three pre-ground pepper powders -- ancho (made of dried poblanos), chipotle (made of dried and smoked jalapeños), and, jalapeño.  

Toni added a scant amount of tomato paste, to achieve the requisite acidity to pull off any good chili recipe, and admitted (to me) that even in Texas, many of the best cooks sneak it in undetected.  I hit upon adding diced fire-roasted tomatoes a few years ago and never looked back -- they melt into the sauce, and seriously, improve the Lone Star State's steak chili.  Simmer down.  You don't want 'em in there?  Leave 'em out and get on with it -- don't yap about it here.

IMG_41636 1/2-7 pounds nicely-marbled boneless ribeye steak, trimmed of excess fat and fat pockets, cut into 3/4"-1" cubes (6 1/2-7 pounds meat after trimming) (Note:  True.  I often purchase an entire tenderloin of beef to make this chili.  It is the pinnacle of chili-eating decadence and excellence.  My family affectionately refers to it as "chili mignon".

1-1 1/2  pounds 1/2"-diced yellow or sweet onion (about 6 cups diced onion)

8  large garlic cloves, minced (about 6 tablespoons minced garlic)

6  tablespoons corn oil

1  teaspoon sea salt, for lightly-seasoning onions, garlic and beef

2  14 1/2-ounce cans, diced fire-roasted tomatoes, undrained (optional)

Mel's Dry-Spice Blend for Texas-Style Chile, stirred together as directed below

32  ounces beef stock

1  12-ounce bottle beer (12-ounces additional beef stock may be substituted for beer)

6  tablespoons masa harina

IMG_4153For the dry spice blend:

4  tablespoons ancho chile powder*

1  tablespoon chipotle chile powder*

1  teaspoon jalapeno chile pepper*

1  tablespoon Mexican-style chili powder*

IMG_41564  tablespoons ground cumin

2  tablespoons Mexican-style oregano

1  tablespoon garlic powder

1/2  teaspoon ground cloves

2  teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder

2  teaspoons sugar

1  tablespoon salt

IMG_4162* Note:  CHILE:  Spelled with an"e", refers to the fresh or dried plant or pod or fruit of any member of the pepper family.  CHILI:  Spelled with an "i", refers to soups, stews and/or sauces made with fresh or dried chile peppers (like chili con carne). CHILE POWDER:  When spelled with and "e", means it's a powder made from one or more dried chiles exclusively.  This is sometimes referred to or sold as POWDERED CHILES, or CHILE BLEND (if it contains more than one kind of chile powder). CHILI POWDER:  When spelled with an "i" means it's a mixture of dried spices (example:  cumin, garlic, onion) and chile powder, meaning:  the manufacturer added spices to the chile powder or a blend of chile powders.

IMG_4167 IMG_4167 IMG_4167 IMG_4167~Step 1.  Heat the oil, in a wide-bottomed 14" chef's pan w/straight-deep sides, over medium-high heat.  Add the onion and garlic.  Sprinkle with the 1 teaspoon of salt -- just enough to lightly season.  Sauté, using a large slotted spoon or spatula to stir occasionally, until light-browning starts, the beginning stages, mostly with the bits of garlic, about 9-10 minutes.  

IMG_4177 IMG_4177 IMG_4177 IMG_4177 IMG_4189~Step 2.  Add the beef.  Continue to sauté, and stir occasionally, then adjust heat to simmer rapidly, so the beef cooks in its own juices, until a slight coating of liquid remains in the bottom of pan and light-browning is at the beginning stages, about 30 minutes -- this is a marvelous method for cooking the beef cubes without searing in the beginning.

IMG_4196 IMG_4196 IMG_4196 IMG_4196 IMG_4196 IMG_4196 IMG_4213 IMG_4213 IMG_4221~Step 3.  Add the fire-roasted tomatoes and give the mixture a good stir. Add the dry spice blend, all of it at once, and stir again, to thoroughly combine.  Add the beef stock and beer.  Adjust heat to a rapid simmer, then lower the heat to a gentle simmer and continue to cook, stirring occasionally and more frequently towards the end, 30-45 minutes.  

IMG_4222 IMG_4222 IMG_4222~Step 4.  Sprinkle in the masa, stir, and continue to simmer 15 additional minutes, stirring regularly. Turn the heat off, cover the pan, and, allow the chili to steep, 2 hours prior to serving, to allow flavors time to marry.  

Note:  As with many things, if you've got the refrigerator space, refrigerate overnight, return to room temperature, reheat and serve the next day.  This is a truly extraordinary recipe.

Set a spell, take your shoes off.  I'll get out the pot passers...

IMG_4289... we'll slobber over Jack & Texas-tea-style chili nachos:

IMG_4302Or a Texas steak-chili taco w/avocado crema or two:

IMG_4396Steak My Day:  Texas-Style Bowl-of-Red Steak Chili:  Recipe yields 4 quarts chili.

Special Equipment List:  cutting board; chef's knife; 14" chef's pan w/straight, deep sides & lid (capacity of 7-8-quarts); large slotted spoon or spatula

6a0120a8551282970b022ad3ba5ea3200b 6a0120a8551282970b022ad3ba5eb0200bCook's Note: Cornbread is often served with a bowl-of-Texas red. That said, choose between my divine recipes for ~ Triple-Corn Jalapeño Cornbread ~, or, ~ Triple-Corn Jalapeño Corn Muffins ~.  Bread is bread.  Muffins are muffins.  You choose your favorite. 

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2018)


Sheuli -- Thank you. It is indeed awesome, and, relatively easy too -- a nice bonus! ~ Melanie

awesome simple recipe. thanks

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