Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Texas Red- Walker's Red Hot Chili Con Carne

This is the last bowl of chili left from my latest beef and chili pepper cravings. I can smell it as the bowl is right next to me. If you like chili con carne the way I do, then you can smell that distinct ingredient blend too.

As a child growing up in Texas my father would make homemade chili as often as every or every other week. We would eat this with crumble saltine crackers and chopped onions. Now and again we would have it on top of hot dogs. My father loved chili. Once he learned the recipe for the authentic Chili Queens of San Antonio chili, we all were hooked. Cheese Enchiladas with chili con carne are a favorite too, and often served in Texas Tex-Mex restaurants.

Canned chili just cannot top this recipe. However there was a brand you could find on the shelf every now and then, before Wolf Brand and Hormel began dominating the market that came as close to a homemade version; it was Walker's Red Hot Chile Con Carne, produced in the Austin, Texas area for nearly seventy years. They are also known for chili powders. Does anyone else remember this company or brand?

Here in New Jersey they make a sweet (bell peppers) chili with kidney beans. I refuse to say it is chili, and will not even try it if I see it on a menu.

To get that rich and fatty meaty chili con carne of my youth I make what I call Ribeye Texas Red. Many of my friends here in New Jersey love this recipe. I use two types of dried chilies and fresh tomatoes to make that rich spicy sauce. Cutting up Ribeye could be sacrilegious to a die hard meat eater, which up here in the north east can get expensive. I know at least one blogger (Nibble Me This) who is cringing, because this great grilling steak is being massacred like an old western, but hey don't knock it until you try it!

Just for fun history, here is the Walker's recipe-

Walker's Red Hot Chile Con Carne (1918)
(Tex-Mex Cookbook & History)

1 pound beef -- cut in small pieces
1/4 pound beef suet -- ground fine or lard
2 tablespoons Walker's Mexene
1 medium onion -- minced

In 1918, Walker Austex was producing 45,000 cans of Walker's Red Hot Chile Con Carne (with beans) and 15,000 cans of Mexene Chili Powder a day in their new factory in Austin, Texas. But Walker had already been selling canned Mexican foods for over a quarter century and may have been the first to can chili. Gebhardt's didn't start canning chili (as opposed to making chili powder) until 1911. Walker's 1918 recipe booklet had recipes for "chile huevos" and "chili mac" -- plus something called "combination chili con carne" -- one can chili mixed with one can tomatoes.

My Ribeye Texas Red recipe:

1 lb Ribeye cut into small cubes, or as close as you can get

In a medium hot pot begin sauteing 1 medium yellow onion, small chop
2 or 3 tablespoons oil of your choice, I use olive oil, but authentic recipes call for...

1 tablespoons bacon drippings

Begin browning beef (some recipes say small batches due to moisture being release in large batches, and not browning properly) I use the same pot and brown onions and beef together, your choice.

After onions begin turning translucent and meat is well browned, add 2 tablespoons Oregano
3 mashed cloves of garlic, and chilies (see below), salt/pepper to taste, 2 tablespoons cumin

       4 dried ancho peppers (smoked and dried pablano)
       4 dried guajillo peppers (drying the marasol)
       2 cups boiling water

       Reconstitute peppers by adding them to boiling water and letting sit for up to twenty minutes (I often
       remove half of the seeds, and always the stems, to cut down on spice for guest).

       Puree chilies in a small portion of the water, maybe 4 tablespoons and add them to the pot.

2 pounds of tomato puree (with summer tomatoes in abundance I use fresh, or 'put up' jars in cooler months)

4 cups beef stock, begin with 3 cups and add as it simmers down, if liquid becomes to thick

Simmer for an hour or so, and as I always say, dishes like this always taste better the next days to come, so make it a day ahead.

My recipe complies with Texas law (which prohibits making chili with beans).

I also do not add the Masa Harina which takes the place of tomato paste. I like my chili somewhat liquid, as we always add whole wheat (high fiber) crackers which do the job of thickening quite nicely!

Note: I felt the heat was not up to my liking so I added another 2 chopped reconstituted chilies after tearing them into small pieces. Several friends noted they like seeing the chili skins in the bowl, made them feel it was more authentic.

Want an alternative recipe? Lamb Chili made with my Chai Tea recipe