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Mom's Texas Red Chili

By donna - Posted on 01 March 2016

My mom was a tried and true southern cook. Fried chicken, breaded pork chops, grits, rice, gumbo you name it we ate it. The only person that could make a better Gumbo was my uncle, the Gumbo King of Orange, Texas; Clyde Thrilkill.

If  you really wanted to get my mom's red headed temper to flare, serve her Chili with kidney beans, or sweetened cornbread. She always said that's not cornbread, if you sweeten it, it's cake, and kidney beans don't belong in chili. They are for salads.

Well anyway back to the chili. She would start out with a large amount of coarse ground beef, about 2-2 1/2 pounds with a good amount of fat, about 80% lean by today's standards. She always said that the fat was where the flavor was (thus my girth, from all that flavor I consumed over the years).

The beef was browned off with a large diced onion, salt, and plenty of chili powder in a cast Iron dutch oven. She would add about 2 quarts of home canned tomatoes that were roughly chopped and included all of the jucie from the jar. This would simmer away on the stove as she got the beans prepared.

Her beans were the first secret ingredient, she used pinto beans cooked the day before. Part of the beans were mashed to create a thick gravy seasoned with cayenne pepper, bacon grease, more onions, and spices like garlic and others that I do not remember. Pinto beans look similar to a navy bean but have a tint of pink and some darker brownish spots prior to cooking. After cooking they are dark red.

Next the beans are added to the beef and tomato mixture along with the other secret ingredient a square of baking chocolate to give it that rich darkness and flavor. Additional tomato juice was added if more liquid was needed as it simmered until mealtime. It was never so spicy that it took your breath away, or overpowered with hot peppers, if you wanted that you added them on your own to your bowl.

Chili at our house was always served with lots of raw onion slices and cornbread, without sugar of course. Any that was left the next day got a handful of macaroni added enough to make it thorugh another meal this time with homemade buscuits.