Recipe – John’s Texas Red Chili

by john on March 15, 2003


John's Texas Red Chili

I’ve made this recipe about six times now and it has finally stabilized into something I am very happy with. John’s Texas Red is a hot chili, hot enough to put sweat on your forehead and clear out your sinuses, but not so hot as to be inedible. The first incarnation of this chili was made with 15 habañeros, no tomatoes and a pint of Guinness. As fond of Guinness and habañeros as I am I’ll admit it – that batch was inedible.

This chili has been entered in two chili contests, both times taking the title as the hottest chili. I’m sure I would have won crowd favorite in one contest but it was so popular that it was all gone before half the crowd had a chance to taste it. I was robbed!

In both chili contests the winning entry contained cinnamon and sugar. Seriously. You won’t find any toast toppings in my chili, nor will you find beans or chili powder. This isn’t a slow cooker chili but I think it could be adapted to use a slow cooker if you wanted.


2 pounds chuck roast (½” – ¾” cubes)
1 ½ pounds course ground chuck
6 slices thick-cut smoked bacon (coarsely chopped)
2 tablespoons cooking oil (optional)
2 large white onions (coarsely chopped)
2 cloves garlic (pressed or finely chopped)
4 large stalks celery (coarsely chopped)
5 dried habañero peppers
4 dried ancho peppers
2 cups water
6 fresh hot peppers (mixed variety, include 2 habañeros � de-seeded and coarsely chopped)
1 14oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 14oz. can petite diced tomatoes (drained)
2 tablespoons cumin
1 tablespoon oregano
½ teaspoon salt


Boil water. Place dried peppers in a bowl, add boiling water, and cover. Let sit about 10 minutes. Remove and de-seed peppers. Strain water to remove seeds.

Place water and seeded dried peppers in a pot over medium high heat, cook until half of the water is reduced, about 30 minutes.

Place fresh peppers in food processor along with reduced dried pepper mixture and pulse to make a sauce with a consistency a bit like ketchup. Add additional water if needed. This will result in about 2 cups of ‘chili sauce.’

Brown bacon, onions and garlic in large stew pot over high heat. Add cooking oil if needed. Once bacon is browned and onions ‘wet’ add chuck roast and ground chuck and cook until browned, stirring occasionally. Drain.

Add chili sauce and celery to meat mixture. Stir well. Cook over medium-low heat for 1 hour.

Add crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, cumin, oregano and salt. Cook over medium-low heat for an additional 1 hour. Be careful not to cook off all the liquid.

Serve with your favorite toppings. Don’t forget the beer.


Ben March 16, 2003 at 7:36 am

The answer to world peace

I have the answer to World Peace. Read on. So, it was either the PowerYoga and a triple-no-fat, super-soy, no-caffeine

Joe Grossberg March 16, 2003 at 7:35 pm

I love cinnamon with my chili. I believe that originated in Cincy.

How “original” are these recipes? Do you start with a cookbook and modify it over time to further suit your tastes?

john March 16, 2003 at 7:47 pm

Not sure about Cincy and cinnamon – but I do know they put their chili on spaghetti noodles. I thought it was pretty good that way too.

Any recipe that’s adopted from one cookbook I will include a reference to it. Many of my recipes start off life as a conglomeration of many books or ideas and then get refined over time from there.

anette merker September 30, 2003 at 4:07 pm

yes spaghetti is a good alternative – and do not make it too hot 😉

Harold Stephenson October 7, 2003 at 4:01 pm

Something you might try if you don’t like cinnamon, try substituting about an ounce of good “Mexican chocolate” about 5 minutes before finished.

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