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. And, no, I'm not from Texas, I'm from New York City, but I've had a lifelong fascination with southwestern and Mexican food. I have been making homemade chili for over 30 years now, but any authenticity this recipe might offer is not based on locality.

This updates a recipe I originally posted almost seven years ago, with a couple of minor changes and corrections to more accurately reflect the way I make it at this time. In the time since the original was posted, I have received some very positive feedback about its outcome, including at least one overall winner at a chili cook-off, so it can be officially called "award-winning" chili.

Be warned, the two alternates are for three-alarm (family) and true six-alarm (which I only make for my wife and myself) variants, as they are the only versions I make. If you want it stronger or milder, adjust the chili powder and peppers to taste (a good trick for mixed tastes is to make a batch of each of the three- and six-alarm versions so everyone can custom blend them). Feel free to experiment with the varieties of peppers you use, 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.

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
  • 3/4 cup olive 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
  • 15 cloves garlic -- finely chopped 
  • 3 oz blackstrap molasses
  • 1 tablespoon Mexican oregano
  • 2 tablespoons cumin
  • 1 dash ginger
  • 1 dash nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 quarts of beef broth
  • For the three-alarm version, 5 oz sliced and seeded fresh or jarred hot jalapeno peppers
        -- or --
  • For the six-alarm version, 7 to 10 sliced and seeded fresh or jarred habanero peppers


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.


  • Place oil and beef in a Dutch oven or similar large pot and cook over low heat until browned, stirring 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 the garlic
  • Make a mixture of the flour and chili powder, and slowly add it to the pot, stirring constantly
  • Add molasses... stir
  • 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  ;)
  • 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; this process can be repeated with more broth to extend cooking time to as long as you see fit (it's pretty hard to overcook chili)
  • 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.