Texas Recipes

Real Texas Chili

This classic Texas chili (no beans, no onion, no tomatoes) was created by native Houstonian Carter Rochelle, a professional fund-raiser. Former New York Times food editor Craig Claiborne once pronounced this chili his favorite and published the recipe in two of his cookbooks.

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Yield: 6 to 8 servings

Serve with pinto beans and chopped onion on the side to mix in as desired. Serve with crackers, tortilla chips, warmed flour tortillas or corn bread.


  • 3 pounds boneless beef stew meat (chuck or round)
  • 6 ounces beef suet (hard white fat), cut into pieces (see note)
  • 3 or 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 to 6 tablespoons chili powder, or to taste
  • 8 tablespoons Masa Harina (Mexican corn flour)
  • 6 cups hot water
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons instant beef bouillon or beef bouillon cubes
  • Red chiles, crushed or dried and chopped, to taste (optional)


  1. Remove gristle and most of fat from meat; cut into 1/2 inch or smaller cubes (some of the beef should be chipped or flaked).
  2. Place suet in large skillet or heavy kettle and render it (cook until fat melts).
  3. Skim residue off rendered suet; discard residue.
  4. Add meat to hot fat and sauté until lightly browned.
  5. Add garlic, salt, black pepper and chili powder. Mix well and let seasonings permeate meat a few minutes.
  6. Sprinkle in Masa Harina and mix, stirring rapidly until smooth.
  7. Add water, vinegar, bouillon and chilies. Reduce heat and simmer until meat is very tender; some of the meat should virtually dissolve into the chili.
  8. If chili becomes too dry while cooking, add a little water from time to time.
  9. Correct seasonings.
  10. When done, skim fat from surface. (You can refrigerate overnight and scrape hardened fat off before reheating.)


Because of health concerns, many chili cooks substitute 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup vegetable oil or shortening for rendered beef suet, which is a highly saturated fat.

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