Making Rob n BethO’s Texas Chili

Before we get started I’d like to dispel a vicious rumor RE beans

On more than one occasion when I was discussing chili, someone had the undaunted temerity to point out that Texas chili cannot contain beans, therefore my chili was not REALLY “Texas chili”.

chile contest discontinuedNow bear in mind, about half the time I’m getting corrected on this topic the speaker turns out to be from Boston or some other part of Arctic North America. I on the other hand was raised here, my family was raised here, and their families were raised here, and about the only thing they had in common besides their Texas heritage was the fact that they put beans in their chili.

So basically I’ll be darned if I’m going let somebody who doesn’t even speak the language tell me what I can put in my chili. Just doesn’t work that way. If Texans hate anything, it’s rules.

I realize there is a lot of written material that originated in Texas which perpetuates this particular rumor, but it’s important to remember that nine times out of ten the guy that wrote it was from Austin.

For those unfamiliar with Austin…

Austin’s the home of the Texas legislature, the Texas Longhorns football team, and the University of Texas. It’s a great place to watch a football game, a lousy place to watch law being made, and it’s chock full of liars. That’s not entirely attributable to the fact that our legislature is there. You can’t discount the mendacity of guys that enter chili contests, most of which originate in Central Texas within about a 6-pack of Austin city limits.

Let’s face it, Austin is just about the only communist city in Texas, and it’s just a weird place. When they make me governor I plan to fence it in and make it a zoo. It’d make one helluva tourist attraction. But nobody in Texas is dumb enough to believe anything they hear coming out of Austin. I mean, that’s the reason we elected our legislators to go there in the first place… So we could get those sunsabeetches out of our cities.

So let’s dispense with the idea Texas chili doesn’t contain beans

The only true defining characteristic of Texas chili is that it contains meat (ground or otherwise) and could be used in a pinch to strip tar from your driveway.

Another myth about chili: it is only to be eaten in cold weather

I have no idea where that came from, because in order to experience cold weather in most of Texas you pretty much have to drive to Colorado. Texas has two seasons, football season and summer. Both of them are hot.

That’s because Texas was assembled out of parts that were left over when God made Hell. Mostly parts he didn’t use because there were just too darned hot. If we waited for cold weather we’d die of starvation. Just isn’t practical. Texas was once part of Mexico, and we retained their love of peppers. Chili is a year-round meal.

Anyway, there are two basic parts to a good chili recipe

The first is the chili seasoning, and the second is the actual set of chili ingredients. You mix the ingredients, and add seasoning in small doses while cooking.

There are a zillion possible recipes for chile seasoning with overlapping but not identical components, so you can be creative. Here’s my starter set.

Chile Seasoning:
• 1/4 cup red New Mexico chile powder
• 2 tablespoons ground cumin (smells like heaven)
• 2 tablespoons Mexican oregano
• 1 !@#!!! randomass bunch of ground chipotle
• 1 tablespoon garlic powder
• 1 teaspoon ground allspice
• 1/4 teaspoon cayenne

Word of caution:
When getting creative, you will make mistakes. Local tradition requires that when this happens, and it will, you pretend that whatever happened, was done entirely on purpose. May require considerable practice to get your gag reflex under control, but at that point it’s too late to change anything so it’s all about presentation.

Texas chile

Other stuff that might have been added…

But didn’t go into this round… Ground celery seed, ground oregano, onion powder, ground tellicherry peppercorns, any number of different types of ground chiles (Pasillo chiles, ancho chiles, cascabel, arbol, etc)…

Basically you can add just about anything else that is ground up and laying within reach up to but almost never including gunpowder.

[I’ll never try that again.]

Once you have your seasoning ready, time to gather your ingredients and go to work. Once again you may vary this, but here are basics you’ll want to put into your chili.


• 2 lbs burger (brown & drain)

• 1 Onion (diced) … salt & Saute’ (not caramelize) in Canola oil

• 1 can Rotelle (with juice)
• 2 cans red kidney beans (drained & rinsed)
• 1 can diced tomatoes (drained)
• 1 can tomato paste
• 1 can Hunts Zesty & Spicy Tomato Sauce
• 1 TSP Garlic Powder
• 1 TBSP Sorghum

Add meat, onions, chile powder mix to the big pot. [A few TSP of the powder, add some more slowly as you cook.] Grind tellicherry pepper (course grind) over the whole thing, folding the ingredients.

TIME: Cook all day… covered… LOW heat. Go stir it and add additional chile mix to it every so often until seasoning tastes right.

You don’t start making chili when you get hungry

You start it when you have hours between you and the next time you will be hungry. As such, this may not be an activity that can be mastered by the microwave generation, but for those with the patience, they shall be rewarded with a culinary experience unparalleled since Moses found manna from heaven.

Give it a shot. You’ll find Texas chili making is more of an art than a science.

Good luck, and God bless Texas.

I'm Rob Jones... and I approve this message.
I’m Rob Jones… and I approve this message.

11 thoughts on “Making Rob n BethO’s Texas Chili

  1. Rob, I confess that I’m one of the perpetrators of the “no beans” mantra. And no, I do not, have not, and will not live anywhere near Austin. Though I’m forced to live outside of the Promised Land for now, my family has also been in Texas for generations. My Aunt used to participate in CASI sanctioned chili cook-offs and they would disqualify someone for adding beans to their chili. I guess if you’re not competing it doesn’t matter. What really matters is how satisfied you are after a bowlful and how many people want seconds (and the recipe). All this chili talk has made me hungry. There goes the diet.


  2. I strongly suspect that with my parents having been raised in the depression and their parents raising kids during the depression, the tendency to stretch a dish with beans would have been an economic necessity.

    My mom tended to exhibit a lot of classic frugality measures that were born of that era (bread mixed into hamburger, slivers of soap hanging in a net over the sink to get the last outta them). My dad likewise never bought a tool or part if he could make it.

    In our disposable society their brand of common sense is hard to find these days.


    1. I used to hang a net bag with soap slivers on the spigot out in the yard. That way I could wash my hands before coming into the house. I remember my grandparents saving bacon grease and foil pie pans. They would also wash and reuse plastic bags. People today have no concept of making do. My kids act like I was making them eat out of a garbage can whenever I serve them leftovers. I can’t wait to see how frugal they become once they are out on their own.


  3. Sounds like a good starter. Can’t say I’ve ever thought to toss in sorghum – I’ll have to remember that.
    The first time I made my chile for my new bride, she turned up her nose when she saw me breaking up two whole garlic bulbs and peeling the whole mess. She didn’t believe me when I told her that she’d never even be able to detect the garlic.
    ‘Course, for a couple of hours afterward, she couldn’t detect much of anything beyond an unquenchable thirst and slurred speech.
    And by the way, Rob…. I always put beans in, too. If I found a competition that would disqualify for that, I wouldn’t bother to register.
    The tastiest chili I ever had was a black bean and venison chili recipe I found in a old grange cookbook from around 1905. Aside from the standard ingredients (and the venison) you needed habaneros and pound or so of arbol chiles… then a half gallon of white paint to replace what peeled off the kitchen ceiling.
    I got to where I’d make up a huge batch and freeze some after every hunting season By the Fourth, we were usually either out or down to the last bit, and had to resort to chuck to tide us over ’til hunting season (oh, of COURSE we always waited ’til season!).


  4. Not a Texan, though I did march in the Cotton Bowl parade about a hundred years ago. I am from Colorado and a (bit of a) wimp, so the level of chilies is a little daunting. But had to comment because – besides the REQUIRED beans – some of the best chili I’ve ever had/made included allspice.

    Living in AZ now, I understand the if-I’m-hungry-for-chili-I’m-cookin’-chili attitude. If we waited for cold weather, we’d never eat chili and that would be a crime. Now I have to find a great recipe for jalapeno cornbread.


  5. After reading the recipe Rob, I must confess to being somewhat mystified on one minor detail in this whole process. So maybe you can help this ignorant Virginian out here.

    You mention stirring this concoction from time to time as it cooks. How do you do so without melting the spoon? ;)


  6. Got another pot of this concoction simmering on the stove today. Problem is, the smell makes you so hungry it just about kills you. Fighting the urge to turn up the heat and short-circuit the process.


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