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Eric's Smoked Texas Chili

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    Eric's Smoked Texas Chili

    I've written several times about Texas Chili, but I've never actually put my full recipe out for folks. So, here you go!


    There are three main sources for this recipe. Many years ago, I started making my own chili rather than buy it in a can (I know, I know). I started with sort of the classic home made chili recipe involving ground beef, onions, some basic dry seasonings, tomatoes, and beans (I know, I know). That evolved some over time, including that I learned to use fresh garlic, not garlic powder, and I started cooking my own beans, not buying them in a can. About that time, the Internet got to be a big deal and I was getting ideas off the Internet, which is when I switched from ground beef to stew meat. Better, but still not great. At some point, I found Amazing Ribs, but I was really only using it for ribs, rubs, and sauces. One day, poking around, I discovered that Meathead had a Texas Chili recipe and it called for smoking the meat and onion!

    I added that twist into my recipe and had already dumped the beans not long before. But I still wanted some crunch in there, so I added diced carrots. Yes, I know, that's just wrong and all Texas Chili purists will denounce me. But I like it. And you can leave the carrots out if you want.


    A few quick notes. First, the chuck roast (and it's fat) makes a big difference. Don't try to go lean meat from stew meat or the top round or whatever. This is chili, not white chicken chili. It's supposed to be big, hearty, bold, and have lots of beef flavor going on. The wine should be rustic, a chianti or rioja is a great idea. The beef stock, ideally, is home made. If not, buy good quality beef stock or bone broth. The first time, make it with all of my ingredients. After that, you can start swapping out and substituting and modifying. This chili is moderately spicy, not mild and not melt your face hot.

    Side note: I use wine and avoid the tomato sauce and beer. I think it is heartier this way. And it aligns well with my belief that Texas Chili is a Texas variation of boeuf bourguignon. Which makes sense given that chili started out as a way to feed a lot of ranch hands.

    Takes (how long)

    Dry Brine chuck roast - 1 hour, minimum, but 24 hours is much better
    Food prep - 20 minutes
    Smoking meat/onion - 2 hours
    Cooking chili - 3 hours

    Serve with

    Crusty bread, green salad, corn bread, rice, and all the usual chili toppings (if you insist): shredded cheese, sour cream, avocados, tortilla chips, diced white onion, etc. Personally, I like chili all by itself, no toppings, a small green salad, and a Shiner Bock. Or a glass of the wine you used to cook the chili.

    Special tools
    • A grill or smoker to smoke the meat and onion. You don't have to do this, but it makes a huge difference.
    • Dutch oven, enameled or cast iron, for cooking chili
    • Good instant read thermometer for checking meat temp

    For Smoked Chuck Roast and Onion
    • 1 medium onion, cut in quarters
    • 1 chuck roast - 2.5 to 3 lbs
    • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
    • 1 tbsp BBBR from Amazing Ribs (about .... you want 1 tsp per pound, which comes out to 1 tbsp for a 3 lb roast)
    For The Chili
    • 1 chuck roast, smoked - 2.5 to 3 lbs
    • 1 medium onion, smoked
    • 1 tbsp olive oil
    • 1/2 lb bacon
    • 4 cloves garlic
    • 1 serrano pepper
    • 1 red bell pepper
    • 2 tbsp chili powder
    • 1 tbsp cumin powder
    • 1 14 oz can diced tomatoes OR 1 lb tomatoes, peeled and diced
    • 4 tbsp fresh lime juice (2-3 limes)
    • 1 oz dark chocolate
    • 2 cups red wine
    • 3 cups beef stock
    • 20 whole tortilla chips, crushed
    • 2 carrots, peeled and diced

    Dry Brine
    1. Liberally cover the chuck roast with the kosher salt, 1/2 tsp per pound of meat
    2. Place chuck roast on a tray or plate in refrigerator for at least one hour, preferably 24 hours
    Smoke Meat and Onion
    1. Prepare smoker/grill for 2 zone cooking. Indirect zone should be 250F. Add a chunk of wood to your fire if using charcoal or gas grill, preferably some sort of oak.
    2. Remove dry outer skin of onion, cut into quarters. Leave the basal plate (where the roots are) on the onion quarters so they don't fall apart on you
    3. Liberally rub the chuck roast with BBBR
    4. Put chuck roast and onion on indirect to smoke.
    5. Remove onion after 30 minutes
    6. Remove chuck roast when internal temp is 150F, about 2 hours
    Cook Chili
    1. Cut chuck roast into 1" cubes (roughly), removing large fat chunks and gristle
    2. Rough chop the onion
    3. Dice bacon into lardons (about 1/4" on a side)
    4. Mince or crush the garlic cloves
    5. De-seed and dice the serrano and bell pepper
    6. If using fresh tomatoes, peel and dice
    7. Cook bacon in dutch oven, over medium low heat, until fat is well rendered and bacon is starting to get crisp. Reserve bacon
    8. Increase heat to medium high and brown the chuck roast in the bacon fat, working in batches, until all meat is browned on all sides. Do not crowd the meat or it will braise/saute instead of frying and browning. Reserve the chuck with the bacon
    9. Reduce heat back to medium low and add onion, serrano, bell pepper to the pot (and the olive oil, if needed) and cook until onion is translucent, about 10 minutes
    10. Add garlic and cook until aromatic, about 1 minute
    11. Add cumin and chili powder and cook about 30 seconds, stirring into the rest of the onions, peppers and garlic.
    12. Immediately deglaze with half the red wine, scraping all the browned bits off the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon
    13. Now add the beef, bacon, tomatoes, lime juice, beef stock, remaining wine, chocolate, and crushed tortilla chips into the pot
    14. Stir everything together well, make sure the meat is barely covered with liquid. Add water or stock if it needs it to fully cover.
    15. Bring the chili to a boil, then reduce to a very bare simmer with cover on.
    16. Simmer chili for about 3 hours, until the beef is cooked and tender, but not falling apart.
    17. while cooking, if the chili is getting too thick, add some more wine, stock, or water. If it is not thick enough, add a few more crushed up tortilla chips
    18. At the end of 2 hours, start checking for flavor. You may need salt to taste.
    19. When meat is tender and chili is thickened properly, add the diced carrots and cook 10 more minutes.
    20. Right now you should taste the chili and adjust the seasonings. If it seems a bit bitter, a tbsp of butter will solve that problem. Adjust the salt, if needed. A little sugar can help enhance the flavors as well.
    21. Serve and enjoy!
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    Last edited by ecowper; September 30, 2021, 05:25 PM.

    I need to try dark chocolate in chili.....it really does feel as if it would give some incredible depth.


    • ecowper
      ecowper commented
      Editing a comment
      That change was almost as significant as smoking the meat.


    A comment on beef stock. If you can't make your own, use store-bought chicken stock vs store-bought beef stock. Chicken stock has much more organic material per volume than most beef stock. The chuck flavors the chicken stock so that the difference in final product is negligible. If you want, you can add a little beef flavor Better Than Bullion to amp that up but be careful as it's fairly salty - a teaspoon has 680mg of sodium! You'll want to eliminate some salt elsewhere in the recipe if you do this. Personally, I just use decent chicken stock if I can't make beef stock.


    • Troutman
      Troutman commented
      Editing a comment
      Actually if you check around there are some excellent beef bone broths on the market like Roli Roti Butcher's Organic Beef Bone Broth. Check it out, I like results it gives me. Another way to enhance the flavor is to heat it with a little tomato puree. Stuff is amazing.

    • ecowper
      ecowper commented
      Editing a comment
      Troutman yeah, if I was going to use something I got from store (or ordered) it would be something like that

    • rickgregory
      rickgregory commented
      Editing a comment
      Sadly, that one isn't sold here. I'll check things out next time I'm in the store, but I'm also not blowing $7/quart or anything crazy. I do need to go buy some beef bones etc and make stock once it cools down a bit.

    This looks amazing.

    I am the only chili eater here. What would you suggest as the best way to store single servings in the freezer?


    • rickgregory
      rickgregory commented
      Editing a comment
      I like cooling it and ladling into ziplocs, then laying them flat and freezing.. I use a canning funnel to make it easier to ladle the stew into the ziploc.

    • Panhead John
      Panhead John commented
      Editing a comment
      Not sure why anyone would go to the hassle of putting chili in ziplocks or use sealer bags, just using plastic storage containers with lids is the easiest. I’ll label the containers with a magic marker on a piece of painters tape and stick it to the top of the lid.

    • ecowper
      ecowper commented
      Editing a comment
      Panhead John I never have enough left over to freeze. I finish off the leftovers during the week. BUT for chicken and beef stock, I put in quart bags, lay flat, freeze. And then I move the bags into the door of the freezer. I've got about 10 quarts of beef stock in the freezer door like that right now.

    I gotta do this one day. Perhaps when the snow falls...


    • ecowper
      ecowper commented
      Editing a comment
      Cap'n, chili is good in the heat or the cold

    • Argoboy
      Argoboy commented
      Editing a comment
      Where is the great state of Jefferson anyway?

    • CaptainMike
      CaptainMike commented
      Editing a comment
      Argoboy it was/is a movement to create a new state by combining several Northern California and Southern Oregon counties. Most of the proposed counties are geographically, demographically, and, perhaps most important, politically distant from the bulk of the respective states and therefore feel inadequately represented. It came somewhat close to happening in the early 40's, but the pesky Japanese kind of diverted everyone's attention. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jefferson

    This is a fantastic, well thought out, and balanced recipe. I am going to give it a go when chuck roasts rotate back on sale again.


    • ecowper
      ecowper commented
      Editing a comment
      Thank you for the great feedback! I'd love to hear your thoughts once you've made it. I tuned it for many years. About 3 years ago, I started really working on turning it into a recipe, not a guide or how to. Now I'm looking to see if it works for other folks.

    "Mmmm, this is really good, whatever it is."


      Interesting recipe, last night I said my pasta sauce recipe was getting old and stale so to be honest my chili recipe is neck and neck with the pasta recipe.
      We’re getting into fall soup/ stew/chili season so this recipe and of course Troutman recipes are front and center for me this fall.
      Its time to wake up my game.
      Thank you for this.


      • ecowper
        ecowper commented
        Editing a comment
        absolutely welcome .... plus all you guys end up being my recipe testers :-D

      Thanks, into the rotation. What really got me interested was that it goes good with a Shiner Bock...


      • ecowper
        ecowper commented
        Editing a comment
        I love this chili with shiner bock! you'll have to let me know what you think.

      Nice one Eric. It seems to have some additional depth of flavor then the recipe I posted last year. I like the chocolate touch (ties to Mexican cooking) and the pre-smoking of the meat. You know I'm a big fan of that step (normally too lazy to do it myself).

      Thanks also for stepping up with you latest recipe offerings. We always appreciate the effort.


      • ecowper
        ecowper commented
        Editing a comment
        anything for you Steve! Although, as I noted above, I get a bunch of recipe testers by doing this. Which does nothing but help me getting to the point where I can assemble the cookbook that I want to do.

      This recipe will definitely be made at the house one weekend. I too like the addition of the dark chocolate and the wine instead of beer. Red wine and beef go together like a hug and a kiss.


        Thanks for this recipe Eric. It’s getting to that time of year to get some chili going.
        I like some of the twists you put in on this one.
        Nicely done.


          This looks really good Eric! The smoked chuck and chocolate really do make a difference. Thanks for sharing. Going to put some of your other ideas to work on my chili.


            Thanks for posting this.


              What? No Beets?

              Seriously though, I'm going to give this a try.


              • ecowper
                ecowper commented
                Editing a comment
                Well, you could do half this and half PJ’s Authentic Texas Chowder, I suppose


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