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Texas Red Chili


Some of the most satisfying chili around is the most basic: a beef and tomato base with a little heat from chiles to create excitement. This recipe calls for a combination of fresh and dried chiles to infuse the dish with an incredible depth of flavor. Avocado and tortilla chips temper the spice.

  • Servings: 8

Source: Martha Stewart Living, October 2009


  • 8 whole dried chiles (5 ancho and 3 guajillo or all ancho; about 3 ounces)
  • 3 tablespoons safflower oil, plus more as needed
  • 3 pounds trimmed beef chuck, cut into small pieces (1/2 inch or smaller)
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 large onions, coarsely chopped (4 cups)
  • 7 to 8 garlic cloves, minced (5 tablespoons)
  • 2 jalapeno or serrano chiles, seeded if desired, minced
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 can (28 ounces) whole peeled plum tomatoes, pureed with their juice (3 1/2 cups)
  • 4 cups water, plus more if needed and for soaking
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons white vinegar, to taste


  1. Toast dried chiles in a dry skillet over medium-high heat until fragrant and blistered, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Remove stem and seeds; discard. Transfer chiles to a large measuring cup or bowl, and cover with hot water. Keep chiles submerged with a small bowl, and let soak for 30 minutes. Remove from water, and puree in a blender with 1/2 cup soaking liquid.

  2. Heat a large heavy pot over high heat. Add 2 tablespoons oil. Season beef with 2 1/2 teaspoons salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Brown beef in batches, adding more oil as needed, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

  3. Add remaining tablespoon oil, the onions, garlic, and minced chiles to pot, and cook over medium-high heat until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. (If the pan gets too dark, add a little water, and scrape up browned bits with a wooden spoon to deglaze.) Add cumin and oregano, and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, 30 seconds to 1 minute.

  4. Stir in browned beef and chile puree. Add tomato puree, water, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer gently, partially covered, until meat is very tender and juices are thick, 2 1/2 to 3 hours. (Check pot once an hour for excessive evaporation; if chili seems dry, add a little water.) Season chili with salt, and stir in vinegar. Serve immediately (or refrigerate for up to 3 days, or freeze for up to 3 months; reheat in a pot over medium heat, stirring occasionally).

Cook's Notes

The dried chiles, oregano, and cumin can be replaced with 1/2 cup chili powder. Skip step 1, add powder to onion mixture, and cook for 1 minute.

Reviews Add a comment

  • txlissa
    30 DEC, 2009
    This is wonderful! I will definitely make this again, and soon. It's especially good on a cold winter day. It's also great for making a Frito pie - pour chili over Fritos, and add cheese. For those of you wanting to add beans: you may end up with chili, but it won't be Texas Red. True Texas Red never, ever, ever has beans in it.
  • EWjunk
    8 NOV, 2009
    tasty, but I wouldn't make again - still looking for "perfect" chili! I'd never made chili with anything but ground beef, and I really liked the diced chuck. It cooked up very tender. I did add some pintos and thickened it with a little masa as it was pretty soupy, even after 3 hours.
  • MS11402627
    6 NOV, 2009
    Wonderful nuances and layers of flavor from the different peppers. We resisted the urge to add beans. Very flavorful, highly recommend.
  • futurowoman
    4 NOV, 2009
    This is very delicious! Next time, however, I will also add some kidney beans. I think it could use the balance. We added some extra sharp cheddar and that was a nice touch, too.