My daddy is from Texas and he came from a farming family. He's still very comfortable on a tractor ... it's in his blood. However, given that he left the cooking to Mom, I didn't grow up knowing a whole lot about Texas style chili. Probably because HE didn't know much about Texas style chili! However, in my quest for food and family knowledge, I've learned that, apparently, Texas Ranch Chili is simply beef, chiles, a few other aromatics ... but NO tomatoes or beans!
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What kind of chiles?
I think it depends on what you like. Although, given that I'm not a Texas Ranch Chili expert, I can't be held responsible for what I'm about to suggest. Please cut me some slack. I'm only Texan by connection ... and all Texans know that doesn't count. (My hands are behind my head. Please don't shoot.)
Pro Tip for the Chiles
Instead of using dried chili powder, I used some dried New Mexico chiles that I stemmed and shook out the seeds. Keep those seeds, though, and use them to top pizzas or in any other way that you would use chili flakes.
I covered them with hot beef broth, then whirred them in the blender to get the most beautiful chile puree. It sure beats chili powder! Oh my goodness ... so flavorful and potent!
Now for the meat
Bacon for the smokiness is always a hit. Then it's chuck roast all the way.
I cut the beef into cubes and trimmed away some of the fat. The fat that is easy to remove, that is! The rest I leave for flavor in the Chili.
After browning the bacon and beef and taking it out of the pot, I sauteed the onions and garlic with the spices.
And finally, add a bit more beef broth, some dark ale, and that gorgeous chile puree. All that's left to do at this point is to let it cook. An hour covered, another hour and a half uncovered ... your house will smell amazing!
Can I use an Instant Pot or a Crock Pot?
Of course! For the Instant Pot, do all the browning of the meat and cooking of the onions, etc ... on the stovetop. Put everything in the Instant Pot, turn it on Manual for 45 minutes. Et voila!
For the Crock Pot, do all the browning on the stove, and put it in the Crock Pot on low for 4-6 hours.
How to serve Texas Ranch Chili:
Serve Texas Ranch Chili with roasted poblano peppers, avocado, cilantro, and sour cream. You can serve it over rice, but homemade corn tortillas allow you to make the best tasting street tacos this side of the border! A choice you won't regret.
Other Mexican-inspired recipes you might enjoy:
Texas Ranch Chili
- 4 cups beef broth
- 6 dried New Mexico chiles 1.5 - 2 ounces total
- 12 ounces bacon chopped
- 4 pounds boned beef chuck cut into 1½-inch pieces
- 2 medium onions chopped
- ¼ cup garlic finely chopped
- 1½ teaspoons ground cumin
- 1½ teaspoons dried oregano
- 2 cups dark ale like a stout or porter
- 2 fresh poblano chiles
- Heat half of the beef broth. Stem the dried chiles (take the seeds out, too, if you want less heat). Put them in the pitcher of a blender and add the hot broth. Let them stand for at least 10 minutes, then blend them until they are smooth. An immersion blenders works well, too.
- In a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat, stir the bacon until it is browned, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a platter.
- Season the beef with salt and brown it in batches in the same Dutch oven the bacon just came out of. You might need to remove some of the grease first, but use your own judgment.
- After all the beef is browned, add the onion, garlic, cumin, and oregano to the pan; stir often until the onion is limp and turning golden, about 5-6 minutes.
- Return the beef and bacon to the pot. Add the chile puree, the dark ale, and the remaining beef broth. Bring to a boil, scraping up bits from the bottom of the pot.
- Cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally for an hour. Uncover and simmer until beef is very tender and the sauce is thickened. If the sauce thickens too much, you can add some more broth.
- Grill or roast the poblano chiles until they are charred all over. Peel, stem, see, and coarsely chop them. Stir them into the chili about 30 minutes before it is ready to serve. Alternatively, serve them on the side as a garnish.
- Serve with sour cream, fresh cilantro, avocado, and warm tortillas.