The Real McCoy Chili

  1. 1/4 cup rendered pork or beef fat or olive oil
    2 large yellow onions, peeled and coarsely chopped (about 4 cups)
    8 medium garlic cloves, peeled and minced
    4 pounds well-marbled beef chuck, trimmed of most external fat and cut into
    1/2-inch cubes
    1 1/2 teaspoons salt
    1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
  2. 1/3 cup mild, unseasoned chili powder
    2 tablespoons ground cumin, from toasted seeds
    2 tablespoons dried oregano, preferably Mexican
    1 1/2 teaspoons cayenne pepper, or to taste
    5 cups beef stock
    2 to 3 tablespoons yellow cornmeal, as optional thickener
  1. In a large skillet over medium heat, warm the beef fat. Add the onions and garlic, lower the heat slightly, and cook, stirring once or twice, until very tender, about 20 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, set a 4 1/2 to 5-quart heavy flameproof casserole Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the beef, season with salt and cook uncovered, stirring often, until the meat has lost all pink color, about 20 minutes. (If the beef is very lean, it may stick slightly. Add olive oil.)
  3. Scrape the onions and garlic into the casserole with the beef. Stir in the chili powder (or paste, if you are using it), cumin, oregano, and cayenne pepper and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes.
  4. Stir in the beef stock and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally for 1 1/2 hours.
  5. Taste, correct the seasoning, and add water if the chili is thickening too rapidly. Continue to simmer, stirring often for another 30 minutes, or until the meat is tender and the chili is reduced to your liking.
  6. To further thicken the chili, or to bind any surface fats, stir in the optional cornmeal and simmer the chili for another 5 minutes.

Chili Trivia:

  • Chili is the official state food of Texas
  • Cincinnati Chili was inspired by Greek and Macedonian immigrants around the turn of the 20th century
  • The intensity of heat in the taste of the Chile peppers usually decreases as the size of the pepper increases