Some people identify Texas with cowboys, horses, or oil—but not me. I think of the great food of Texas, and that food is chili. A staple dish in my household, chili is a dish with a long history. From the pioneer days of the early West to today, chili remains a favorite among many in the West, but particularly in Texas. My chili recipe is based on the contributions of friends, relatives, and a hometown chili parlor. Prepared with its own special ingredients, my Texas chili will make your guests’ eyes and mouths water and leave them with a satisfied appetite.
First, you will need to get the equipment and ingredients you will need to make Texas Chili. Several pieces of equipment are necessary: an electric skillet (with cover), a small wooden spatula, a can opener, a measuring cup, a set of measuring spoons, 6 small bowls or cups, a glass plate, a microwave, 4-6 medium-sized bowls, and 4-6 spoons. A lengthy but appetizing set of ingredients is also vital to this heavenly dish: 1 pound of lean ground beef, two 16-oz. cans of Del Monte whole peeled tomatoes, 4 tablespoons of Gebhart chili powder, 1 tablespoon of garlic powder, 2 teaspoons of round black pepper, 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper, 2 teaspoons of ground cumin, 1 teaspoon of table salt, and ½ cup of water. Now that the equipment and ingredients are clear, let’s really get started.
When you have obtained all of the specified equipment and ingredients listed above, the next step is to prepare your ingredients. Measure each dry ingredient individually and pour each into one of the 6 separate small bowls or cups. Open the cans of tomatoes and leave them in their cans. Measure the water and leave it in the measuring cup until you need it. If the beef is frozen, defrost it in the microwave for approximately 8 minutes. When it is thawed, unwrap it and place it on a glass plate. Now, place all the measured ingredients, the ground beef, and the tomatoes on the counter and place the electric skillet next to them. Plug the skillet in and turn the dial to 225 degrees. You are now ready to begin the actual cooking.
When the temperature light goes off the electric skillet, or when the inside of the skillet feels warm to a quick touch, it’s time to start cooking the beef. Place the ground beef in the skillet and break it apart with the spatula until it covers the bottom of the skillet. Stirring with the spatula every 30 seconds, cook the ground beef approximately 6 minutes, or until each piece of beef turns gray inside and out. At the moment the ground beef reaches this stage, pour the garlic powder over the ground beef and stir with the spatula until the garlic is dissolved (approximately ten times around the skillet). When this step is completed, there will be a strong “sinus-healing” smell that will tickle the inside of your nose. The garlic makes its presence known.
After the garlic powder is dissolved, add the tomatoes and remaining spices. Pour the tomatoes, including the juice, into the skillet. Using the spatula, cut up the tomatoes into small pieces and stir them around until they are evenly distributed in the skillet along with the ground beef and garlic powder. At this point, add the chili powder and cayenne pepper to the mixture and stir with the spatula to dissolve these spices. Next, pour the table salt, ground black pepper, and ground cumin into the skillet and stir until these ingredients are also dissolved into the mixture. Add the water to the skillet and stir the mixture approximately twenty times around. After these ingredients are combined, the chili will appear a dark red in color and will provide a mixed aroma of sweet-smelling tomatoes and spicy hot chili powder along with its cayenne cousin. Now, raise the heat to 350 degrees by turning up the dial on the skillet.
In the final stage of cooking, the chili will start to boil. This is easy to see because the chili will resemble a miniature lava pool, with its dark red mixture giving off steam by its bubbling and belching. Let the mixture boil (and belch) for 3 minutes, stirring with the spatula every 15 seconds. Then, turn the dial on the skillet to “simmer” and put the cover on top of the skillet. Let the chili simmer for 8 minutes, stirring with the spatula every minute and reapplying the cover each time. At the end of 8 minutes, turn the dial on the skillet to “off” and take the cover off the skillet. The finished product will be a thick, spicy-smelling red mixture filled with chunks of beef halfway submerged in a hot tub of spicy juices.
The chili is now ready to eat! This recipe serves four Texas-sized portions or six regular portions. Ladle the chili in bowls, and then tell everyone to use a big spoon and dig in. This chili is spicy and even hot at times, but its combination of sweet and sour flavors is both unique and delicious. A bottle of Corona, twenty crackers, and a big pickle are optional.
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