Chili is the official state dish of Texas and the unofficial dish of autumn. A bowl of red with fresh tortillas bespeaks falling leaves, football, family and feasts to come. This chili recipe is the culmination of 35 years of tasting and creating ways to make a beautiful bowl of red with the integrity of multiple layers of flavor. The recipe begins with dried red chiles and produces a redder shade of chili and deeper, richer flavor than chili powder ever could.
As a lifelong hunter, I love to use venison from the fall hunt. Not for you? But want the robust flavor and lean profile of venison? Broken Arrow Ranch in the Hill Country markets free-range venison online (brokenarrowranch.com) and at Central Market. Grass fed beef, such as you find at Burgundy Pasture Beef, also produces a lean chili.
The first part of the recipe produces Real Deal Chili Gravy that can be used as the base for chili or as enchilada sauce. The meat version is made with ground beef to give it additional body, but the vegetarian version has plenty of structure without it. Each recipe makes about 8 servings.
This chili isn’t for the faint of palate. The chili gravy is spicy. Very spicy. If you are wary of too much spice, omit the arbol chiles on your first effort. That’s where the serious heat comes from. Or, moderate the burn by adding some tomato puree.