by Eric Wharton
My Recipe Book, constantly being added to
Detestable food passing itself off as Mexican, sold in the U.S. from Texas to New York.
— Diccionario de Mejicanismos (1959)
There is great disagreement about where chili originated, but what everyone seems to agree on is that it did not originate in Mexico as is popularly thought. Myths include:
A nun from Spain in the Southwest called "La Dama de Azul" (the lady in blue).
A group of Spanish settlers to San Antonio who made a Spanish stew similar to chili.
Trail cooks traveling around Texas who made dehydrated chili bricks and planted spices along the way in mesquite patches.
Texas prisoners who made a stew from the cheapest ingredients available calling it “Prisoner’s Plight.”
Regardless of it’s beginnings, the dish went national in 1893 when the San Antonio Chili Stand was set up at the Columbian Exposition in Chicago.
To set a controversy to rest, there are two kinds of chili. Texas chili and Not-Texas Chili. Texas chili is made without beans and Texans will tell you anything else is not chili. Notwithstanding, most of the rest of the world makes their chili with beans, though the kind of bean may differ. There is also a popular white chili that is made with chicken. However, never get in an argument with a Texan about what is the correct way to make chili. You will loose. I have Texan friends and I verify the result.
To make a good crock-pot chili, it's best to select a large cut of meat from either the front shoulder or the rear end. Preferred cuts include chuck, chuck shoulder, chuck roast, chuck-eye roast, top chuck, bottom round roast, bottom eye roast, rump roast, eye round roast, top round, or pot roast.
It’s tempting to buy a good cut of steak to make the chili taste special, but crock-pot chili is where cheaper cuts of meat shine. Well-marbled steak cuts quickly turn tough and chewy in the crock-pot because their fat melts away. Use tough, lean cuts. They contain something called collagen, or connective tissue, which breaks down over long cooking, rendering the meat fork tender and tasty.
You can cook the meat first in an INSTAPOT pressure cooker to assist in breaking down the collagen, but that's optional. You can just cook the chili in the crock-pot longer for the same effect.
This is a mild chili, which appeals to a lot of people. To crank up the heat, add cayenne pepper to taste.
21/2 lbs chuck roast
2 lbs ground beef
1 28-oz can crushed tomatoes
1 8-oz can tomato sauce
1 8-oz can beef broth
2 8-oz can pinto beans, drained and washed
1 8-oz can light red kidney beans, drained and washed
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp dark brown sugar
1 tbsp chili powder
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp paprika
2 tsp salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp ground oregano
1 tsp coriander
I use a chuck roast because it's usually the least expensive, even more so than stew meat. First, trim fat and cut into bite-sized pieces. Usually, 21/2 lbs of chuck roast will yield 13/4-2 lbs of meat.
If using an INSTAPOT, Pour 1 can beef stock, 1 cup water, and 1 tbsp Worchestershire sauce into the bottom. Add meat, 1 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp black pepper. Close lid, set for 13 minutes on high, and turn on. Add to crock-pot when done. If not using INSTAPOT, simply brown the meat.
Brown and drain ground beef and add to crock-pot. Add all remaining ingredients except beans.
Cook on high 4-6 hours.
During last hour, drain, wash, and add beans. This is because the beans only need to be heated up. Overcooking will turn them mushy. Another option is to cook beans from their raw form, but that takes much longer.
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