The Chili Recipe

I know my Texan friends will tell me that chili is made simply with water, chili pods, meat, and salt—they have a point; I hate beans in chili. This slightly more complex version was inspired by one of the best chili recipes I know, which is in James Villas’ superb book, American Taste. It was developed by a longtime friend, Oksana Czuczman, and it worked very well at the Santa Fe Bar & Grill. The chili is best if cooked the day before.


  • 6 pounds beef round or chuck
  • 6 pounds pork shoulder
  • 1 cup oil
  • ½ cup chopped bacon or ham fat
  • 3 medium onions, chopped
  • 10 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 cup masa harina or corn flour
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 6 tablespoons mild chili powder (ancho or pasilla)
  • 2 tablespoons red pepper flakes
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 6 tablespoons cumin powder
  • 4 tablespoons fresh oregano, chopped
  • 2 lemons, seeded and chopped
  • 1 lime, seeded and chopped
  • 3 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 2 cups tomato concasse
  • 6 cans beer
  • 6 to 8 cups beef or chicken stock


Grind the meats coarsely (unless they are purchased already ground); set aside.

Heat the oil and fat in a large pot and put in the onions and garlic. Cook over low heat either in the oven or on top of the stove for 10 minutes. Put the meat in and brown it, stirring all the time.

Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, another 5 minutes. Add all the spices and the lemons and lime. Cook over low heat, stirring often, for another 15 minutes.

Add the vinegar, tomato, beer, and stock. Simmer uncovered for 4 hours, stirring every 30 minutes. Let sit another 30 minutes and lift off the fat that has risen to the surface. Taste for seasoning and serve with soda crackers and cold beer.