Out here in Austin, Texas it's getting hard to find a good bowl of chili.
How can that be?
Well I can tell you, your prospects of sitting down to a big bowl of pho are decidedly more rosy than finding a competent bowl of Texas-style chili.
What are the rules of Texas Red and what makes them so hard to follow that restaurants have about given up on trying?
Rule Number 1: No beans. No pintos, no kidneys, no anything that is bean-y in the least. I love chili with beans, and make a delicious kettle from time to time, but when I make Texas Red I leave the beans in the pantry.
Rule Number 2: No onions. As bizarre as that may sound it's true. Texas Red has no onions. Put onions in it and you may have a good stew, but it ain't chili.
Rule Number 3: No tomatoes. Tomatoes are chock a block with umami, and can make anything delicious but they have no place in a big pot of Texas chili.
Rule Number 4: No fresh chiles. The sense of outrage grows. Why can't I put chiles in chili? You can. You just can't call it Texas Red at that point. Dried chiles are a must for it to be authentic.
To be a double tough ranch hand/chili cook you only need a few ingredients to create an authentic batch of Texas Red:
1.Beef Chuck cut into cubes
2.Fat, preferably beef suet
3.Chili powder (out in these parts Gebhardt is king)
4.Garlic, lots of fresh garlic
5.Stock or water if you don't have the time to make a batch of authentic stock
6.Masa, for thickening
That's about it.
I'll post ratios and technique tomorrow, but for now just gaze off towards Texas from wherever you are. Now wish you were out somewhere around oh say, San Angelo, and start dreaming about how great the kettle of Texas Red you're going to make will be.