Truck Stop Chili

All of my cooking life, I’ve been content with one kind of chili–it’s quick, has ground beef, and it’s satisfying and easy.  I’ve never felt the urge to experiment around with other recipes.  

But a revisiting of one of my favorite cookbooks this week tempted me to break out of my chili rut.  The book, The Tex-Mex Cookbook by Robb Walsh, has a lot of San Antonio recipes and everything I’ve made from it has been really good, so I decided to try the recipe called Truck Stop Chili.

just starting to simmer

This recipe uses diced beef (it calls for brisket but I used chuck, because I think it breaks down better), lots of onions, the usual spices, and more tomato sauce than I was comfortable with.  I tend to like my chili light on the tomatoes.  It also involved 3 hours of cooking time, so I decided to make it for the freezer, not for immediate consumption–less pressure for getting it onto the table at mealtime.  We retirees don’t like pressure.  Been there, done that.

Whether it was the long cooking time or something else, this chili came out with an intense beefy flavor, the tomato taste muted considerably.  We both tasted it after it was finished–Larry decided he likes my old chili better, but I’m leaning toward this one.  I’ll still make and enjoy my old standby, but this old dog has learned a new trick.

Here’s the recipe from the book (with my changes in parentheses):

1/4 lb. bacon
3 lb. trimmed beef brisket, cut into 1/4 inch cubes (I used chuck)
1 lb. onions, chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons ground cumin
3 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons paprika (I used sweet Hungarian, since that’s all I had)
1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme (did not use–thyme in chili??)
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 large garlic cloves, minced
1 13.75 ounce can beef broth
1 28 ounce can plum tomatoes in puree
2 dried chipotle peppers

Cook the bacon in a large skillet until crisp.  Remove the bacon and reserve.  Over high heat, brown the beef in the bacon drippings left in the skillet and set the meat aside.  Over medium heat, saute the onions in the remaining drippings for 8-10 minutes, until lightly browned.

Toast the cumin in a small skillet over medium heat, stirring constantly for 1 minute or until fragrant.

Add the toasted cumin, chili powder, paprika, oregano, black pepper, thyme, salt, and garlic to the cooked onions and saute for 1 minute.  Crumble in the bacon, add the beef broth, 1 cup water, tomatoes, chiles, and the beef.  Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, cover partially, and simmer for  3 hours or until the meat is very tender, adding water as needed to maintain the desired consistency.
Makes 8-10 cups.

good with cornbread and salsa


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