For Miss O's 2nd birthday party, I made a Texas-style chili that everyone (very kindly) raved about. When I was invited to a soup swap recently, I decided to replicate my efforts, and actually (a first for me) keep track of what and how much I used to create a recipe. I tend to just be a wing-it type of cook; I'm not really a details kind of person when it comes to cooking (which is likely why I suck at baking), but more of an "start with stuff that sounds good, add more or less of other things to taste, cook it 'til it's done" kind of cook.
2.5 lbs lean stew meat
1.75 lbs lean chili meat
1 large onion, diced
1 24-oz jar of salsa
2 28-oz cans crushed or diced tomatoes
1 jar mole
½ tsp chipotle flakes
½ tsp ancho chili powder
I cut the bigger hunks of stew meat into smaller bits, and crumbled the chili meat before browning so nothing stuck together in clumps. You can probably skip browning, but I think it adds flavor. While I was browning the meat (in several batches), I added a generous sprinkle of garlic salt to cut the browning meat aroma. I love red meat, but hate the smell of it browning.
Dice the onion and sautee it in the last round of beef drippings (for all the others, I soaked up the fatty runoff with paper towels) until softened with some browned bits.
Start dumping everything in the slow cooker. For this recipe, I used a 6-quart cooker. I started with the meat, then onion, mole, tomatoes and salsa.
The mole is a pain in the tush to work with, but the flavors it adds are *so* worth it. If you’ve never used mole, opening the jar is difficult, and there’s an inch or so layer of oil on top. Oh, and the opening instructions are in Spanish, so enjoy that. I'm pretty sure the instructions say "locate the three dots, then pry the lid off at the dots". Either that or "get a beer, find a cute guy to open this, take it back after he's figured it out." Potato, potahto.
Below the inch of oil is a solid brick of mole. You need to puree the mole with water or broth or something before you add it to the pot – it won’t melt down. (Yes, that's experience talking.)
Cook for at least 6 hours – I did about 18 hours. Give it a good stir as often as you like. My slow cooker has a 10-hour setting, and that’s what I used, but it still boiled the chili and could possibly burn the bottom layer if you aren’t stirring or using a slow cooker liner.
The result is a sweet, rich, somewhat spicy, earthy, meaty chili that is to. die. for. Unless you're a vegetarian. Texas chili is pretty universally accepted as being bean-free. When I went through my couple years of vegetarianism, I really grew to like chili made with fake meat crumbles and dried, rehydrated, beans. Using the dried beans meant they retained just a bit more firmness and held up better for a 6-10 hour slow cooking. But now that I've done Texas chili, I don't know if I can ever go back to fake meat and beans.