When I was the head chef for a catering company out of Baton Rouge, Louisiana I was tasked with creating lots of recipes for big fancy parties.

The well-connected owners sold catering like it was going out of style and  were also kind enough to bonus me for recipes I created that they could enter into their Master Cook database.

We were doing a big party for a quarter horse association and the revelers requested a big kettle of genuine Texas Chili.Texas Red to be exact.

I knew my dad’s recipe wasn’t going to cut it. Back in Kentucky, ground beef,tomatoes and kidney beans are essential ingredients in chili. Out here in Texas, that style can get the boots put to you quick.

I had to make sure the recipe was authentic so I did my research (old newspaper clippings, many cookbooks and of course, the internet.)  After a few test runs in a cafe the company owned, I finally hit one out of the park.

Here’s my recipe for Texas Red. Since the original was designed to feed about 40 people I’ve scaled it down to accommodate the home cook.

Bon Appetit y’all

1/4 lb Fat (I use clarified bacon fat but beef suet would be more traditional)

5 lbs Beef Tips (Chuck Roast cut into cubes is best but you may use the product labeled beef tips in the market)

1/2 Cup Chili Powder (Gebhardt is king in Texas but if you can’t find it use common sense and buy a good brand; preferably from a market that sells a fair amount of it so it’s fresh. If you have access to a genuine Mexican market then you can find the really good stuff and get a pure chile powder like Guajillo)

2 T. Cumin (I like to buy the seeds, toast them on a comal, then grind them in a spice grinder but powdered cumin will work just fine)

2 T. Ground Oregano aka Mexican Oregano (Not the Italian kind, this Oregano is sold as a powder and is essential in this dish)

1 T. Salt or to taste

1 T. Cayenne (obviously if you’d like to ratchet up the heat just add more)

1 bulb Garlic (Freshly minced garlic, not the stuff that sits in a jar of oil in your fridge)

2 quarts Stock (I use chicken which is not traditional, beef is recommended here for purists. If you don’t have time to make stock the brand Better Than Bouillion is surprisingly good)

1/2 Cup Masa Harina (If you can’t find masa mix in your part of the country, corn meal will do just fine-the finer grind the better)

1/2 Cup Water


*Heat fat til it shimmers

*Brown beef thoroughly

*Add seasonings and simmer two to three hours or til meat can be easily cut with edge of fork


*Add stock,bring to boil,

*Add slurry of masa mix/water

*Simmer 30 minutes

* Adjust flavors

Here in Austin we eat Texas Red year round no matter how hot it gets.

Common garnishes for this chili are chopped Texas Sweet Onion, Crema Mexicana and Grated Longhorn Cheddar cheese but the truth is this dish needs no garnish.

It is delicious all by itself

Read ‘The Rules Of Texas Red’

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  1. Tom Hedgepeth says:

    Wow. Just wow. NOLA expat living in Richmond, VA. For reference sake, I make my own andouille because, what’s chicken and sausage gumbo without andouille? And you can’t get decent andouille here.
    Made a recipe of the Texas Red Chile Friday, and it was without a doubt, the finest chili my wife and I have ever eaten, period. I did take the opportunity to grind up a 6 oz. bag of guajillo chilis in a coffee grinder I reserve for spices, so the chili powder was definitely fresh.
    Thanks for the recipe – it’s a keeper!

  2. Rl. Making a pot of this right now. It always brings a smile when I google up this recipe. Thank you for all of the work you have done on this blog. A true treasure.

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