O Holy Chili

We know what we’re having for Christmas dinner: The same exact thing we have every Christmas dinner, right down to the salad dressing and the sides. The trouble comes on the nights before and after, when we’ve got family over, friends stopping by, or a bunch of hungry kids sitting around the condo after a day of skiing. On these nights, we’re looking for a one-pot special, something easy to make (and easy to clean up) that everyone will eat. This year, we’ll be busting out some Texas-style chili. If you’ve been reading this blog over the years, you probably know we eat our share of chili, and we have a recipe we like that goes back a couple of generations. But sometimes you need to shake up the ol’ routine. Recently, I was having a conversation with one of my colleagues recently, Kaela, who is the daughter of a man from Texas who takes his chili very seriously, and this is what she told me: Her dad has the best chili recipe. It calls for sirloin instead of ground beef, bacon drippings instead of oil, and no beans. We did a trial batch, and Kaela just might be right. This chili is good. It’s smoky and dark and concentrated and UH-MAZING when eaten on a corn chip, with a little sour cream. They should sell air fresheners that smell like this chili. And make extra, as it’s twice as tasty the next day. — Andy

Texas Chili
Adapted from this Brazos River Chili.

3 pounds top sirloin, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
4 tablespoons bacon drippings
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
1 medium onion, finely chopped
10-1/2 ounce can beef broth
13-3/4 ounce can chicken broth
1 cup tomato sauce
1 teaspoon onion powder
3 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon Hungarian sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1 or 2 whole jalapeños, seeded and halved

3 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon onion powder

In a Dutch oven, brown the meat in the bacon drippings. Add the garlic and onion and cook until just transparent.

Add the beef broth, the chicken broth and tomato sauce, and bring to a boil. Add the onion powder, chili powder, paprika and white pepper, and stir well. Float the jalapeño halves on surface of chili. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 1 hour. Check occasionally to see that liquid covers the meat. If it begins to look dry, lower the heat and add a little beef broth.

Remove jalapeños from surface and stir in the additional chili powder, ground cumin and onion powder. Return jalapeños to chili, cover, and simmer over very low heat for an additional 1-2 hours.

At the end of the cooking time, you may adjust the taste with additional chili powder, cumin, and onion powder, if desired.

Serve with sour cream, grated cheddar cheese, chopped cilantro, sliced avocado, and corn chips (Kaela insists on Fritos).

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Andi B.

Chili is our Christmas Eve tradition! Typically just standard ground beef and red kidney beans, with extra chili powder or cayenne on the side for those who want a kick. Served with simple bread and maybe a fruit salad… it’s the perfect start to the Christmas festivities!


My dad always included lime wedges to squeeze onto his Texas chili – we would always have it on the night my sister and I came home for Christmas.


Whoa, easy there cowboy. I consider the DALS chili recipe an all-time classic, a truly perfect recipe. We eat it at least every other week during crisp/cool/cold months, and never tire of it. (And when I crave it during the summer, we turn it into chili dogs and have it with cold beer, thus making it a rare year-round recipe.) In fact, we are having it tonight. Not sure why you want to mess with perfection. 🙂


Jenny’s chili recipe in the Dinner: A Love Story cookbook. I’m not sure if it’s also on this site, but if not I swear it alone is worth buying the book for.


I did make chili, and was prompted to do so by this post– thanks! But mine was not so rich– rather, a quite brothy, also beanless, soupy thing that went well with a sprinkle of cheddar and a crumble of corn chips. All of us were ready for something not so buttery–(christmas dinner was ham and mac and cheese, buttered veg, cheesecake for dessert– taxing!)


YUM! I made this tonight and everyone in my family loved it. Lots of fritos to go with it! I cracked the lid a bit during the last 1/2 hr or so of cooking to evaporate some of the broth… it turned out perfect. It is an intense chili…but perfect for “nacho like” chili eating! Thank you! A keeper!


So the jalepenos soak in the chili to add flavour but they are removed at the end and not eaten? Just double checking!!


As a Texan I can tell you, “anyone who knows beans about chili knows chili ain’t got no beans!” This recipe looks delicious and very Texas.

Jodi hess

No salt?? Seems like it needs salt….and the question was asked twice so I will ask again–how many does this serve?