This is a recipe for chili con carne, or Texas-style chili, which is a glorification of beef in all its goodness, but keeping with a grand tradition, eschews things that many would readily associate with chili, like tomatoes, onions, and beans. This is the latest update to a recipe I first published more than ten years ago. One of the great things about chili is it can handle a lot of unusual ingredients, and no two batches I make are exactly the same, but this outlines the latest basic point from which I start.

Texas-style, by way of Brooklyn
Any authenticity this recipe might offer is not based on locality, however, as I'm not from Texas, I'm from New York City. But I've had a lifelong fascination with southwestern and Mexican food, and have been making homemade chili for over 30 years now. I have received very positive feedback about its outcome, including at least one overall winner at a chili cook-off, so this can be officially called "award-winning" chili.

Hot, hot, hot
You can find some interesting exotic fresh, dried, or jarred peppers out there, which can greatly alter the hotness and flavor of the finished product. I have an affection for fresh habaneros because along with their fire, they impart a distinctive citrus quality. I offer a few ideas on how to create a proper level of spiciness, but this is a matter of taste, so feel free to experiment with varieties and quantities of peppers. If you are unsure, add them slowly and gauge the results as you go. It's easy to make chili hotter, but not so easy to impart mildness if you go too far.

Set aside some time
This chili is at least an all-day affair, so it's probably best to start a day before you plan on eating it. If you want to prepare it for consumption the same day, you should start pretty early. The good news is that following the initial work, the remainder of the labor basically consists of stirring.


  • 7 lbs beef, trimmed and cut into 1" to 2" cubes (they will break up during cooking) -- your choice of cut -- stewing beef works more than fine. Season with kosher salt.
  • 3/4 cup olive or canola oil
  • 1 bottle or can of beer
  • 3 oz tequila -- if of legal age, 4-1/2 oz (and no cheating, real blue agave!)
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup chili powder
  • 1 head of garlic -- chopped or smashed
  • 3 oz blackstrap molasses
  • 1 tablespoon Mexican oregano
  • 2 tablespoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon white pepper
  • 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 quarts of beef broth or water
  • Chilis (jarred or fresh, sliced and seeded)
    • 1 Alarm: No peppers
    • 3 Alarm: 5 oz hot jalapeno peppers
    • 5 Alarm: Hot: Three habanero peppers and a few jalapenos or some chipoltle
    • Weapons grade: Seven habanero peppers

Important warning!
Take care handling any hot peppers, but if you are using fresh habaneros you want to be fugu fish careful. Be cautious when handling the jarred ones as well (being pre-sliced, they're easier to deal with) because you don't want even traces of this stuff undiluted on your skin, much less in your eyes, or directly on anything that might find its way into the eyes or mouths of your family, friends, or basically anybody but your worst enemy. I use disposable food service gloves to prepare them.


  • Heat oil over medium heat in a Dutch oven or similar large pot
  • Add garlic and beef and brown/sear the beef
  • Stir in the 3 oz of tequila and beer along the way
  • If using the legal age variant, drink the other 1-1/2 oz tequila
  • Stir in molasses
  • Make a mixture of the flour and chili powder, and slowly add it to the pot, stirring constantly
  • Add cumin and oregano by rubbing them between the palms of your hands... stir
  • Add peppers and remaining spices... stir
  • Add 1 quart of the beef broth, stir
  • Bring to a slow boil for a 1/2 hour or so, stirring often, then lower heat and simmer, stirring occasionally
  • Do not be worried if meat sticks a bit to the bottom of the pot, just make sure to scrape those parts up when stirring (a wooden spoon is good for this)... those bits add flavor  ;)
  • After a couple of hours, cover the pot, but continue stirring every 15 minutes or so
  • At some point a few hours into the simmering when a good bit of broth has cooked away, allow the chili to come to room temperature, then place in fridge for a few hours until cold (if you are in a hurry, this step can be skipped, but I think it helps)
  • After the chili is chilled (overnight works well for this), resume cooking over low heat
  • When nearly at chili-like consistency, add the remaining beef broth; and cook down again. The process can be extended by adding more liquid (it's pretty hard to overcook chili), though if you are going to add more than two quarts, it's probably best to stick with water to control seasoning.
  • Cook until at proper chili consistency again, and serve

Serve as you see fit, some favored methods include in a bread bowl made from a scooped-out roll, or over rice, or with a side of beans.

By the way, if you find chili or any other spicy food too hot, try to resist the urge to douse the fire with water, eating bread or crackers will cut the heat much more effectively. Some people swear by milk as well, but I'd rather just live with the fire in my mouth than resort to that.

Steve (Blue) 3/4/12