Sometimes I think The True Chili generates more fuss than religion or politics.  Still, I’m going to write anyway.

First, some discussion.  As in, where did chili come from, anyway?  Answer – it’s a poor man’s meal, meant to stretch food further, and while we’re at it cover up the quality so it’s palatable.

I’ve run into a pair of legends of the origin – that it was created by some nuns in Texas, or it was created by a desperate cook somewhere on a stock trail between Texas and Kansas.  (It always amuses me to think the first chili may be an Oklahoma dish, but I digress.)  Regardless of which legend, the basic story’s the same.  Desperate, with just the last pieces of the cow and some chili peppers, they made a stew.   And lo and behold, it worked.

You will need:

  • 4 pounds of beef bones – a mix of shanks (cut into rings or chunks) and oxtails will probably do best.
  • A pot large enough to hold the bones with room to spare.
  • Water (quantity to be determined)
  • one tablespoon of white vinegar.
  • A 4 pound chuck roast.
  • Chiles – in this case we’ll assume you’ve got  a can of chipotles packed in adobo sauce available, but you won’t use it all.
  • One bottle of a beer you like.  If you don’t like beer, buy a bottle of Texas Lonestar just for the appropriateness of the name.
  • Salt.

This chili is going to be an all day affair.

In the morning,  brown the roast.  Add the bones to the pot.  Add enough water to cover the bones and meat by two inches.  Add the vinegar.  Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce to a bare simmer (200 to 210 degrees F), and simmer for six hours.  (The liquid will probably lose 2-3 inches of depth.  This is fine.

Remove the bones.  Pull out the roast and shred it, and return it to the broth.  Mince and add one chipotle, and add a tablespoon of adobo sauce.  Bring back to a boil uncovered and taste.  Add salt and, if desired, more chipotle and adobo.

That’s it.  Simple, basic chili.  You want more, add it.

Oh, about that beans controversy – get over it.  Remember the origins?  If they had a few more beans left over, don’t you think they’d have gotten into that meat stew?  Let’s rephrase that – if you’re really hungry, do you say no to food?


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