Devil’s Stew

“It can only truly be Texas red if it walks the thin line just this side of indigestibility: Damning the mouth that eats it and defying the stomach to digest it, the ingredients are hardly willing to lie in the same pot together.”
John Thorne, Simple Cooking

There are several legends and myths involving chili.  Stewed meat with hot peppers, tomatoes and spices.  They can be traced back all the way to 17th century.  In fact several people claimed to have originated the dish.

According to one myth, a nun in Spain put herself in trances for days.  One day when she awoke up from her trances,  she wrote down a chili recipe calling for deer meat, hot chili peppers and tomatoes.  She was known as the ghost “lady in blue” to the native Americans.

Inmates of Texas penitentiaries also claimed to have invented chili in the mid 1800s.  The chili was so loved by the prisoners that after they have served their time and released from prison, they write back to ask for the recipe.

In the same century, chili was staple  for the Texas cowboys and adventurers, traveling around Texas and on the trail to California and back.  They carried with them chilis (meat, peppers and spices) in dried and brick form, which could easily be rehydrated in boiling water, simmered in the pot and enjoyed on the trail.

With all the legends and myths about this dish, one thing is for sure:  chili originated in San Antonio, Texas, by the first Spanish settlers. Historians claim that the Spanish women cooked a spicy stew similar to what we know as chili today.

The first known attempt to can chili was in 1881 by William Gerard Tobin.  Unfortunately, he died only days after his canning operation started.

Finally in 1921, a businessman, Lyman T. Davis of Corsicana, Texas, started canning chili, which he named after his pet wolf, thus the Wolf chili brand was born.  One of the most popular brands of canned chilis.  In fact, in our home,  this is the only brand that my husband and son will eat.  Other than the home made chilis that I make.

The original chili did not contain beans.  For Texas chili purists, this is the only way they eat their chilis. Only beef and dried red chilis.  No beans.  But for some, and especially us, having kidney beans in chili is so much better.

And to maximize flavors, it is best to use dried chili pods, cooked and blended into a paste. Which then added during the last 30 minutes of cooking.

Back in the day, priests were said to deliver sermons to their congregation warning them about eating chili.  Because chili is considered a passion food that can ignite people’s desires in the bedroom.  It is therefore considered soup by the devil.  So people.  Be warned.  Or should i say be prepared.

Here’s what you need for this very flavorful chili.

12 large dried chili pods.  the ones sold here are usually from New Mexico.

remove stems and seeds and cut them into pieces, using kitchen scissors.

beef stock.  make sure it’s boiling hot.

add the cut up chili pods to the beef stock.  cover and simmer over low heat for 20 minutes.

spoon chili pods into the blender, plus 1 cup beef stock. blend chilis until pureed into a wet paste.

Finely cubed beef and pork + olive oil and bacon drippings to brown them in.

heat a large pot and add 1 tbsp. bacon drippings and 2 tbsps. olive oil. brown the meat or should i say “saute” it until meat turns grayish in color. (see that liquid? you need to discard that later.)

remove meat from pot onto a large bowl or plate.

after discarding excess liquid from the pot. add the remaining olive oil and bacon drippings.  saute onions and garlic until translucent.

add the meat back into the pot – to the sauteed onions and garlic.

stir a few minutes.

add these: crushed tomatoes, spices and beef stock to the sauteed onions and meat.

stir and simmer over low heat for 45 minutes or until meat is tender.

add chili paste to the pot.

add kidney beans to the pot.

stir and simmer for another 30 minutes or until desired thickness.

Serve with either one of these :  plain cornbread, Naan (Indian bread), French baguette, or artisan breads. Oh, don’t forget to top your bowl of chili with grated cheddar cheese and freshly chopped red onions, or sour cream, or all three.

Devil’s Stew aka Texas Chili:

12 large dried Santa Fe New Mexico chilis – medium to extra hot

4 cups boiling beef stock or 4 cups boiling water + 4 beef bouillon cubes

2 pounds beef (tender roast, round or shoulder) – chopped into ¼ inch cubes

1 pound top loin pork chop, boneless – chopped into ¼ inch cubes

4 large garlic cloves – peeled and minced

1 large red onion – finely diced

1 1/3 cup crushed tomatoes (canned)

1 TBSP. dried oregano

1 TBSP. ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 tsp. cayenne pepper for additional heat – optional

½ tsp. ground hot pepper for even hotter chili

¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper

2 bay leaves

½ tsp. coarse sea salt (if needed)

3 cans (16 ounces each) dark kidney beans – drained

2 TBSPs. bacon drippings – divided

4 TBSPs. olive oil – divided

Cut the stems and remove the seeds of dried chilis.  Cut chilis into 3 or 4 pieces.  Add chilis into the boiling beef stock and simmer, covered, over low heat for 20 minutes.

Spoon chilis into a blender plus 1 cup beef stock.  Reserve the remaining beef stock.  Blend chilis until pureed into a wet paste.  Set aside.

Trim tough tendons off the steaks and chop into ½ inch cubes.  Do the same with the pork.

Heat an 8 quart pot and add 1 tablespoons bacon drippings and 2 tablespoons olive oil.

Add cubed beef and pork to the heated oil.  Stir constantly until meat turns grayish in color.  This process will take about 10 – 15 minutes.  Remove the meat from the pot using a slotted spoon.  Discard any liquid from the pot.

There’s usually too much liquid accumulating in the pot because meats are usually injected with water solution, by meat producers to make them weigh heavy.  Therefore, this liquid needs to be discarded.

Add the remaining olive oil and bacon drippings.  Sauté garlic and onions for about 3 minutes or until onions are translucent.  Add the meat back into the pot.  Stir and saute for about five minutes.

Add the crushed tomatoes, oregano, cumin, coriander, cayenne, hot pepper,  and bayleaves.  Stir to combine.  Add the remaining beef stock.

Stir the mixture and simmer over low medium heat for about 45 minutes or until the meat is tender.

Add the chili paste.  Stir.  Add the drained kidney beans.  Stir and simmer for additional 30 minutes.  Just before turning off the heat… add freshly ground black pepper.  Taste to see if coarse sea salt is needed.

Serve chili hot with either one of these:  cornbread, Naan (Indian bread), French baguette, or any Artisan breads.

Note:  Grated extra sharp cheddar cheese and finely diced red onions are excellent toppings on individual servings.  Grated cheddar cheese and onions highly compliment the chili.

Tess’ Kitchen Secrets:

#1 – Dried chili pods gives chili a very aromatic and slightly sweet flavors.  Cannot be substituted with powdered chili.

#2 – Using a combination of beef and pork gives chili great flavors and texture.  Meat cooks faster by chopping them finely.

#3 – Kidney beans make this chili hearty.  Do not use if you are a purist.

#4 – Eating chili with Naan bread makes it even more adventurous makes you want to go the heaven.

Enjoy and Happy Cooking!

Tess Harris

11 thoughts on “Devil’s Stew

  1. I made your chili last weekend. Sad to report it didn’t place in the cook-off, oh well, there’s next year. Many did enjoy the different taste to this chili. Going into making this, I had to go out and buy cumin and coriander spices. They are new for me to be cooking with. Next time, I think I would put in less of the ground cumin. Very potent spice, which was alittle over-bearing for my taste buds. But other than that, awesome chili. Also first time eating the Naan bread. Brushed it with olive oil, toasted it in the toaster oven, and what a great accompaniment to the bowl of chili 🙂

    • Congratulations for entering the Chili-Cookoff, Tess!

      You may not have won, but at least you got to make this chili for the first time and learned that you will need to adjust the amount of spices to suit your taste… 🙂

      And you also found that several people liked the taste of this chili. Who knows… maybe you’ll have a better chance next year… I hope so…

      Thank you for stopping by and letting me know how the contest turned out…

  2. Oh Tess, your last paragraph has me laughing! I can’t even imagine Chili being passion food. If anything, John would be telling me to stay OUT of the bedroom til that chili has left my system. LMAO So yes, I could hear me saying….”be warned, or should I say, be prepared” 🙂

    Very different take on your style of chili. Yes, very much like a stew, with the beef and pork cubes of meat being used in place of ground beef. I’m sure that gives it a whole different twist on the fact that your eating chili. And yes, I agree, chili HAS to be made with kidney beans. Tell me, how easy will it be to find these dried chili pods, since it’s a main ingredient? Living up here in the Northeast, it’s not easy to find Mexican foods in our local grocery stores. And I can’t recall ever seeing any in the produce aisle. What can be substituted if I can’t find any? I have found the Naan bread at our local Wegmans store. So that’s a plus!

    Thanks Tess for posting your Chili recipe. It’s coming just at the right time of the year. I can’t believe how cold it has gotten since September rolled in. A nice hot, hearty meal like chili will sure warm up the soul 🙂

    • Tess, you had me laughing too. 🙂

      You know… you could use ground beef with this if you like, though i have another chili recipe that calls for ground beef.

      As for the dried chili pods, i bought mine at United Supermarket, in their produce section. At first, I didn’t see them on display, so i ask one of the guys that work in the produce section. They had them place high up over a top shelf where it wasn’t easy to see.

      So I guess, what I’m trying to say is this… please ask someone who works in the produce section of your supermarket. Or maybe Wal-Mart might have them. They’re usually from Hatch New Mexico. I paid $2.99 for a 3-ounce bag. You could also find them online. Just search for New Mexico Dried Chili.

      Hope this helps.

      Thanks for stopping by Tess…

      • Tess, now you have me psyched. Three weeks from today is the big Chili Cook-off. Remember I entered it for the first time last year? My chili was Italian sausage based, along with the ground beef. It was liked by many, but didn’t win in the end 😦 But I think going with this Devil Stew Chili would be sooo different, and out of the ordinary, that people might like this better. We have a Super Walmart, and also Wegmans carries lots of different foods. I’m crossing my fingers that I can find those dried chili pods. Sounds like it’s a must, so I’ll conquer and find them! I do remember your posting from May with your Hot Kickin Chili using ground beef. This one is more like I’m use to making. But for the cook-off, it’s gonna be the Devil’s Stew. Ok, keep your fingers crossed that I bring home the blue ribbon. I’ll let you know next month 🙂

        • Alright, Tess! Am excited. I hope you win.

          You are right, i had posted a chili recipe several months ago, and that one called for ground beef, and McCormick Chili Mix. But i also make this same recipe with all the chili spices that i mixed myself, which is much better. I shall post that one soon, in the future…

          As for the Devil’s Stew. Yes, definitely. This is more like a gourmet chili that requires a little bit more time to prepare, and uses home made chili paste. But all the time and efforts spent is worth it.

          When I ate this chili, i ate it plain, with Naan bread. But Willie said it was missing something. And that something was grated cheddar cheese and freshly chopped red onions. With these condiments or toppings, the chili tasted perfect. He ate a couple of bowls… 🙂 He also like to eat this chili with Keebler Townhouse Crackers or Ritz Crackers. You might want to have these items handy at your Chili Cook-Off… 😉

          Goodluck. I sure hope you win. Whatever result you get… please let me know.

          Thanks, Tess!

  3. I have never heard it called Devil Stew before……sounds kinda evil but I like it ~ just don’t want to go into any trances cause I got alot going on but if its gunna ignite desires bring it on…LOL. Shit who knew there were so many legends and myths about chili….I didn’t till reading this so TY. You know what ~ I can’t image having chili without the kidney beans…to me that is what makes it. Your recipe looks very different from what I’m use to but all your recipes are awesome so I’m gunna give this a try.

    Thnx for posting a chili recipe Tess & have an awesome weekend 🙂

    • Thanks Mario!

      Awesome! That means I’m the first one to call it Devil’s Stew! I think the name fits. Because the dish is hot, fiery, and hellish. 🙂 But it’s good of course.

      I know you don’t like hot spicy foods. So you can leave out the cayenne pepper and extra ground hot peppers. And you can use a mild dried chili pods. Don’t worry. It’ll still be tasty. Because the dried chili pods are “key” to the flavors of this dish.

      Oh yeah. Don’t forget to top yours with grated cheddar cheese and or sour cream. I know that’s how you like your chili… 🙂

      Me too… No kidney beans, no chili for me. I must have kidney beans.

      Let me know when you try it…

      Have a great weekend to you too. 🙂 And thanks for stopping by.

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