Gordon Fowler, an artist from Austin, Texas, knows his chili and, happily, shared his recipe with us. "Never put beans in the chili," he says. He buys coarsely ground beef for chili at the market or cubes boneless beef chuck or round himself. He serves this chili with grated sharp cheddar cheese, diced onions, and saltines, or as Frito pie (see recipe variation, below).
- 4 lb. boneless beef chuck, coarsely ground or finely chopped
- 1 large yellow onion, peeled and chopped
- Cloves from 1 head garlic, peeled and chopped
- 1 1⁄2 cups homemade or canned tomato sauce
- 2⁄3 cup ground ancho chiles
- 2 tbsp. ground cumin
- 4 tsp. dried oregano
- 4 tsp. paprika
- 1⁄4 tsp. cayenne
- 2 tbsp. masa harina (powdered lime-treated corn dough)
Heat a large enameled cast-iron casserole or heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat until hot. Add beef and cook, breaking up meat with a wooden spoon, until no longer pink, 5-10 minutes. Add onions, garlic, tomato sauce, chiles, cumin, oregano, paprika, cayenne, and salt to taste and stir to combine. Add enough water to cover meat by1⁄2" (about 5 cups), increase heat to high, and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until meat is tender, about 1 hour.
Put masa harina into a small bowl and add 1⁄3 cup warm water, stirring until smooth. Add moistened masa to chili, stirring until well combined. Continue cooking chili over medium-low heat until meat is very tender and sauce is thickened, about 30 minutes more. Adjust seasonings.