Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Snacking State-by-State: Texas II - Beans? We don't need no stinkin' beans!

Texas chili is quite distinct from other chilis in that it is missing one big thing: beans.  Ask any Texan if they put beans in their chili, and they might shake their heads or just laugh.  So my question: if you're a vegetarian in Texas, do you just not eat chili at all?

Official Name: State of Texas
State Nickname: The Lone Star State, The Republic of Texas
Admission to the US: December 29, 1845 (#28)
Capital: Austin (4th largest)
Other Important Cities: Houston (largest), San Antonio (2nd largest), Dallas (3rd largest), El Paso (6th largest),
Region: South, Southwest; West South Central (US Census)
RAFT NationsCornbread & BBQChile PepperGumboBison
Bordered by: Oklahoma (north), Arkansas (northeast), Louisiana (east), Gulf of Mexico (southeast), Tamaulipas, Nuevo León & Coahuila (Mexico) and the Río Grande (south), Chihuahua (Mexico) (southwest), New Mexico (west)
Official State Foods and Edible Things: cast iron dutch oven (cooking implement - not edible, of course, but used for cooking), chili (dish), chiltepín (native pepper), Guadalupe bass (fish), jalapeño (pepper), longhorn (large mammal), pan de campo (bread), pecan (tree and health nut), prickly pear cactus (plant - for the pads and the fruit), sopaipilla and strudel (pastries), sweet onion (vegetable), Texas purple sage (native shrub), Texas red grapefruit (fruit). tortilla chips and salsa (snack)
Some Famous and Typical Foods: Where to begin?  Texas-style barbecue (specifically beef and beef brisket), Texas chili, chicken fried steak, Mexican (specifically Northern Mexican) foods, Tex-Mex foods (including migas, chile con carne and sopaipilla)

The one common thread running through all Texas chilis is the lack of beans.  Note: you do not put beans in a Texas chili.  If you do, it ain't Texas chili.  Oh sure, it may be some kind of chili (check out Cincinnati's chili, for example, which I made a while back when I looked at Ohio.  Sure the beans aren't cooked into the chili, but it winds up on the plate eventually).  Non-Texan Shannon Sliter Satterwhite writes for Southern Living Magazine [2005] about how she grew up yearning for a delicious chili that just didn't have so many beans, and found it in Texas with its "well-seasoned stew with chunks of tender beef in every bite - a style of chili that Texans have been making for generations" [Sliter Satterwhite 2005].  She further talks about the history of Texas chili, which has its origins in northern Mexico's chile con carne:
The granddaddy of this Tex-Mex dish, chili con carne, is thought to have originated in the 1800s along the Texas cattle trails. Range cooks would commonly prepare a pot of fresh beef and wild-grown seasonings for the cowhands. Before long, the popularity of this spicy stew spread like cheese on a hot burrito throughout the trail towns. It's even said that Frank and Jesse James would stop to eat a bowl before pulling their next bank job.  [Sliter Satterwhite 2005]
I also opted for chunks of beef over ground beef, which I thought would turn out much nicer.  The recipe I used comes to us from "Dr. Dan" who writes the 101 Cooking for Two blog.  As he notes, this is "a spiced up version" [Dan 2012] of his previous Texas chili - as he puts it, a 7 out of 10 on the spiciness scale.  It was a good level of spicy for me.

The Recipe: Texas Chili

Dr. Dan's Texas chili consists of the following:

* chuck roast (I bought this on sale at Wegman's for about $4 per lb, and cut it up myself)
* canned tomatoes (the recipe specifically calls for the canned stuff, which is probably better than most of the tomatoes you'll find in the produce department anyway)
* two each serrano, poblano & jalapeño chile peppers (Dr. Dan calls for three different types of chile which will give this chili a nice heat and complexity.  None of these should cost more than a few dimes at most)
* beef broth (about $1.49 a can)
* onion (picked one up at Wegman's cheap)
* garlic (had it)
* chili powder (of course, just as Texas chili must not have beans, it probably must have chili powder.  I'm not just about out of the stuff)
* cumin, oregano, salt & pepper (had it all)
I also added hot sauce, since I wanted a hotter chili than Dr. Dan was prescribing.

Just for the hell of it, I roasted the poblanos.  Yes, I have to clean my oven top.

Chop (and if you don't like them, seed) your chiles.

The finer you chop those chiles, onions and garlic cloves the better, I think.

Probably best not to chop the beef too fine though.  Just chunk it.

Mix your meat, chiles and vegetables together in a crock pot.

Add the broth...

...and the spices.

Yes, I added extra heat.

Turn on the slow cooker and let your chili slow cook on low for eight hours.

My chili turned out a little on the liquidy side, which wasn't much of a problem.  I merely strained out the liquid from the chili.  It was a chili whose beef fell apart in my mouth because it was so tender and spicy hot.  And true, the different chiles give a depth to this chili that make this one I will have to come back for over again.


DallasVegan.com.  "Simple Vegan Migas…Brownsville Style".  DallasVegan.com, posted January 19, 2009.  Copyright 2010 DallasVegan.com.  All rights reserved.

Dr. Dan (blogger).  "Spicy 3 Chilies Texas Chili a la Crock Pot".  101 Cooking for Two, posted February 25, 2012.

Fain, Lisa.  "My Oven-Baked Brisket".  Homesick Texan, posted December 16, 2008.  Copyright Homesick Texan.  All rights reserved. 

Goldwyn, Craig "Meathead".  "Barbecue Beef Brisket Texas Style".  Amazing Ribs updated March 2, 2012.  Copyright Amazing Ribs.  All rights reserved.

Guía de Tacos (Guiadetacos.com).  "Enchiladas norteñas".  Date unknown.

Johnson Miller, Ruthie.  "Banh mi, oh my! The top five Vietnamese sandwich shops in Houston".  Culture Map Houston, posted February 26, 2011.  Copyright 2009-2012 Culture Map, LLC.  All rights reserved.

Nguyen, Andrea.  "Daikon and Carrot Pickle Recipe (Do Chua)".  Viet World Kitchen, posted May 17, 2009.  Copyright 2002-2012 Andrea Nguyen.  All rights reserved.

Nguyen, Andrea.  "Master Banh Mi Sandwich Recipe".  Viet World Kitchen, posted June 17, 2009.  Copyright 2002-2012 Andrea Nguyen.  All rights reserved.

Shuttlesworth, Patrise.  "Tex-Mex vs. New Mex: Not Just About Jalapeños or Green Chiles".  On the Road, a Houston Press Blog, posted March 26, 2012.  Copyright Houston Press.  All rights reserved.

Sliter Satterwhite, Shannon. "Make a Batch of Texas Chili".  Southern Living Magazine, October 2005.

von der Mehden, Fred R. "Vietnamese".  Handbook of Texas Online.  Date unknown.  Published by the Texas State Historical Association.  Copyright 2012 Texas State Historical Association, published by the Texas State Historical Association, and distributed in partnership with the University of North Texas Sponsors.  All rights reserved.

Some information also obtained from Wikipedia's "Texas" page and other pages, and the Food Timeline State Foods link to "Texas".