I am a huge fan of beanless chili and until now, my favorite has been a variation on Texas Red chili that I found in the Society for Range Management’s Trail Boss's Cowboy Cookbook. I am also particular about the quantity and quality of tomatoes in my chili. In my own recipes, I just leave them out. My mother made a bean-infested, stewed tomato glopped chili that pretty much turned me off the entire genre until I discovered Texas Red. My dad and sisters loved it though, so it couldn’t have been as bad as I thought it was.
Kate has many different chili recipes in her repertoire … most have a few beans and some finely diced tomatoes … I like them all. On New Year’s Eve, 2008, Kate surprised me with the best chili I have ever had … ever, anywhere. It is so good that I ate three bowls of it on New Year’s Eve, and I ate three more bowls of it last Saturday when she whipped it up again.
Kate calls her chili Kansas Red in honor of our present and likely permanent location. This chili is full of different, delicious flavors; it is on the hot side of mild, but not so hot as to make you sweat or cry. And since she tops her Kansas Red chili off with a dollop of sour cream, you can increase or decrease that to modulate the perceived heat. All I can say is that Kate’s Kansas Red chili is my all time favorite … I suspect it would also work well with venison, elk and quite possibly goat meat.
It took a little wrangling on my part to get Kate to share her Kansas Red chili recipe, but she relented. Here it is … I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.
Kate’s Kansas Red Chili
4-5 pounds beef top round or sirloin (easier if you can buy it thinly cut; if not you can put it in the freezer briefly in order to make it easier to dice)
1 large can diced tomatoes
2-3 serrano peppers, chopped, seeds removed
2-3 large jalapeno peppers, chopped, seeds removed
2 red chili peppers crumbled (or 2-3 T. chili pepper flakes)
4 large cloves garlic, minced
1 large onion, chopped roughly
1/2 C. brewed coffee
2 T. green Tabasco
5-6 T. chili powder
1 large bunch fresh cilantro
1 cup of grated cheddar cheese
salt and pepper
Dice the beef into very small pieces ( ½ “ square at most)
Brown the beef well (do not crowd pan) in a cast iron frying pan in several batches and move to the chili pot. In other words, be sure to get lots of “brown bits” in the pan. Deglaze the pan with 1 C. water and pour in the chili pot. To the chili pot, add the can of tomatoes and brewed coffee to the beef.
In the frying pan, wilt and lightly brown the onions in 2 T. olive oil. Add all the chopped peppers and garlic and cook lightly. Add it all to the chili. Deglaze the frying pan once more with ½ C. water and add to the pot. Be sure there is enough liquid in the pot to cover the beef, if not add a bit of water. Add remaining spices, Tobasco and salt and pepper to taste.
Cover tightly, place in the oven at 250 degrees for 2-3 hours. Bring to stovetop and skim off any oil or fat.
Serve with a dollop of sour cream, some shavings of cheddar cheese and fresh chopped cilantro.
Invented December 31, 2008
Photo: iStock, Shawn Gearhart
Hank Will raises hair sheep, heritage cattle and many varieties of open-pollinated corn with his wife, Karen, on their rural Osage County, Kansas farm. His home life is a perfect complement to his professional life as editor in chief at GRIT and Capper's Farmer magazines. Connect with him on Google+.