• Sarah Tucker

Texas Chili

by: Marilyn McCray


I am descended from Stephen F. Austin, who was known as the father of Texas. Growing up I was aware of just how important traditions are in Texas, especially the culinary ones. Indigenous people greeted arriving outsiders with “Tejas,” which means friends and would be the name of the state. The Spanish came in 1690, looking to spread Christianity. After the Mexicans gained their freedom from Spain, the colonization began with Mexicans as well as settlers from the United States. The Native Americans moved into the region in the late 19th Century. Europeans colonists ventured across the sea in search of religious freedom and land. Each group brought its own traditions, celebrations and food that now make up the unique cuisine of Texas. Chili is a legendary food in Texas. Some say that it was the cooks on the cattle drives of the 1870’s and 80’s who invented this spicy delight cooked over a campfire. However, there has always been a debate about Texas Chili. Beans or No Beans. Often in the Lone Star state it is said, “if you know beans about chili, you know chili ain’t got no beans.” Some say real chili is really chili con carne or chili with meat. Not chili con carne con frijoles or chili with meat and beans. Even the Dallas Morning News published The Best real recipe Texas chili recipes - no beans allowed).

Serves 4 – 6

· 2 pounds beef stew meat or ground beef

· Olive oil

· 1 large onion, chopped

· 4-6 cloves garlic, minced

· 1-2 Jalapeño peppers for hear or add chipoltes for a smoky flavor chopped

· 16 oz beef stock

· 1 can diced tomatoes

· 1 can stewed tomatoes

· 1 can tomato sauce

· Chili powder – to taste

· Ground cumin – to taste

· Salt and pepper

· Red Pepper Flakes/Chili Peppers

Variations:

· Turkey, Chicken or Pork instead of beef. Or omit meat or crumble tempeh for vegetarian chili.

· Can of beer or lager

· A store-bought can of pinto or black beans or cook dried beans at home (if you must have beans)


Prepare before leaving home::

· Measure dry ingredients and seasonings, place in plastic bag – label

· Freeze meat and place in plastic bags – label

· Chop onions, garlic, – place in plastic bags – label

· Use caution preparing Jalapeño or chipoltes peppers – discard seeds and membranes. Chop place in plastic bags – label

· For home-cooked beans - soak pinto or black beans overnight and cook until tender. Place in plastic bags – label

· Refrigerate in ice chest or cooler


Prepare before leaving home:

· Measure dry ingredients, crumbs mix and seasonings, place in plastic zip lock bag – label

· Combine ground meats, place in plastic zip lock bags – label

· Chop vegetables, place in plastic zip lock bags – label

· Place broth in jar

· Mix ingredients for glaze, place in jar

· Refrigerate in ice chest or cooler

· Pack heavy-duty aluminum foil

In camp

Measure dry ingredients and seasonings, place in plastic bag – label

Freeze meat and place in plastic bags – label

Chop onions, garlic, – place in plastic bags – label

Use caution preparing Jalapeño or chipoltes peppers – discard seeds and membranes. Chop place in plastic bags – label

For home-cooked beans - soak pinto or black beans overnight and cook until tender. Place in plastic bags – label

Refrigerate in ice chest or cooler


On the campfire - Dutch Oven

Prepare the campfire. Use a tripod to hang the Dutch Oven over the camp fire to warm the olive oil and control the heat. Add onions and garlic. Add the meat, beef stock and stir with a wooden spoon. Follow with chili powder, cumin, jalapeños, pepper flakes and salt to taste. Stir and cover with the lid. Simmer but not boil. Move closer to fire, if more heat is needed. Stir in tomatoes, sauce and beer. Adjust seasonings to taste. Optional: Drain can of beans or use home-cooked beans - stir in. Cook for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.


To serve

Ladle chili in bowls. Top with shredded cheese, chopped onion, dollop of sour cream or chopped cilantro. Serve with warm tortillas, corn bread or biscuits. Enjoy your favorite beer or a Margarita. Enjoy the warm glow or the chili around the campfire.

Marilyn McCray is a published author of a cookbook titled Canning, Pickling and Freezing with Irma Harding, the International Harvester’s fictional spokesperson. Marilyn and her partner, Jim Kerkhoff, travel in a beautiful teardrop to promote the book and she has graciously agreed to share some recipes with us in a regular column. Be sure to check out her book at teardroptrail.com/equipment-and-supplies/


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