I am no chili expert but I can make a good chili that adheres to a couple of basic rules that guide all great chili recipes, with one exception. Let’s get the exception out of the way up front, beans. In Texas, putting beans in chili is the equivalent of using marked cards in a poker game, but I like beans in chili as a means of balancing the meat and, as you might expect, I’m very particular about what beans I use.
In Central American cooking there is a particular type of bean that is used which looks smaller than a traditional black or kidney bean and offers a subtle flavor with a creamy texture. These beans can be found in Hispanic markets local to me, labeled as “frijol rojo de seda”. There is also a black bean variety and I use both for this chili. Even though beans in chili is a hanging offense to chili purists, I like them and I put them in my chili… if you are a traditionalist, skip them. I won’t put hominy in my chili and you are dead to me if you do.
There is one rule of Texas chili that I do adhere to, ground meat. Big chunks of meat in a chili is an abomination, but I do like the lean cuts of stew meat because the result is a chili that has less fat. I also prefer whole cuts of meat for another reason, I can control the grind. Texture and mouth feel in a chili is as important as the taste, ground meat is a little too fine for my tastes and I don’t want a chili that is a few clicks from being a paste. I buy stew meat and put it in my food processor to achieve a coarse grind.
Lastly, the pressure cooker. My friend Dick got a pressure cooker in a Black Friday Amazon deal and I followed his lead. I had a slow cooker for years and just didn’t find it that useful, there is literally nothing that a slow cooker is better at than a dutch oven. What is the point of cooking something in a slow cooker for 6 hours when you can get a better result with a pressure cooker in 30 minutes? Pressure cookers make quick work of one pot meals.
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
4 tbs. diced garlic
2 1/2 lbs stew meat
28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup diced red bell pepper or 2 tbs. dried bell pepper
1 bottle of beer
1 cup of beef stock
1 cup red beans
1 cup black beans
3 tbs. chili powder
2 tbs. Worchestershire
2 tbs. ground cumin
1 tbs. dried oregano
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. ground celery seed
salt/pepper to taste
If you are gluten-free, skip the beer and double up on the beef stock (this is how I make it, but if you are not gluten-free the beer adds some nice flavor). The ground celery seed adds a distinctive pepper flavor to the chili, which is why I wait until the end to salt/pepper to taste. I am a big fan of ground celery seed.
Set your pressure cooker to saute and add the oil. Saute the diced onion until soft and add the garlic, saute for an additional 1-2 minutes, or until the sharp garlic aroma is dissipated. In a food processor, pulse the stew meat until a coarse grind is achieved. Add the stew meat directly to the pressure cook and saute until browned. Add the red bell pepper and all of the spices along with the Worchestershire.
Mix together for 1-2 minutes, add the liquids and the beans. Set your pressure cooker for high pressure (not all pressure cookers have a dual setting, if yours does not it will be a high pressure default) for 30 minutes and allow the pressure to naturally release. That’s it, you are ready to serve. Salt and pepper to taste.