Very Good Texas Chili

The secret to really good chili is the chili powder. And the only way to get really good chili powder is to make it yourself. It is surprisingly easy to do and once you have tried it you will never again use that brown stuff from the supermarket. If you do chose to use ready-made chili powder, check the label. If it contains cumin, adjust the amount of cumin accordingly—which may take a bit of experimentation. If the chili powder contains salt, don’t buy it. Period!


  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • Oil
  • ½ pound onions, 1 large or 2 medium, coarsely chopped
  • 5 or 6 clove garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup chili powder
  • 1Tablespoon ground cumin
  • 2 Tablespoons dried oregano leaves
  • 1 14-ouce can diced tomatoes, preferably salt-free
  • 1 12-ounce bottle beer, I use Saranac Pale Ale, our house beer
  • 1 cup beef stock
  • Water as needed
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons cider vinegar


Film the bottom of a large Dutch oven with oil and brown the meat well, about 6 minutes. Drain in a colander set over a bowl, pouring off all the fat in the pot.

Add a tablespoon of oil to the Dutch oven and cook the onions, stirring occasionally, untilion golden brown, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic, oregano, cumin, and the chili powder to the onions in the pot. Stir for about 1 minute then add the beef, beer, tomatoes, and stock. Add water as needed to just cover the meat. Season with 1 teaspoon of salt and a generous grind of black pepper, at least 2 teaspoons. Bring to a boil then lower the heat and simmer, uncovered, for about an hour adding a bit of water if needed. When the chili is done, stir in the vinegar and serve piping hot with the usual chili condiments: chopped onion, shredded cheddar, chopped jalapeños, sour cream, etc. Offer beans on the side if you wish.


2 responses to “Very Good Texas Chili

  1. Rachel Bethe July 5, 2011 at 15:02

    Have you written directions for making chili powder? I’m off to read the labels on mine…

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