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Chili con Carne
Bryan Caswell and Steve Fillippo go head-to-head in a tailgating food showdown with New England clam chowder, lobster and spinach dip, chili con carne, and Frito pie
Samantha Okazaki / TODAY
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Houston chef Bryan Caswell doesn't mess around when it comes to making authentic Texas chili con carne. This meaty dish is loaded with ground chuck, bacon and smoky chiles. Staying true to his Texas roots, the chef doesn't include beans.


  • Bacon Onion Mix

    • 1/2 pound bacon, ends and pieces
    • 1½ onions, diced
    • 2 tablespoons fresh garlic, minced
  • Ancho Chile Puree

    • 2 dried ancho chiles, stemmed and seeded
    • 1 cup chicken stock
  • Homemade Chili Powder (makes 1 cup)

    • 16 dried ancho chiles, stemmed and seeded
    • 4 dried pasilla chiles, stemmed and seeded
    • 2 tablespoons whole cumin seeds toasted and ground
    • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
    • 1½ tablespoons dried and ground Mexican oregano
  • Chili con Carne

    • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds, plus 1 teaspoon
    • 1/3 cup rendered lard
    • 3 pounds ground beef chuck, large dice
    • 3½ tablespoons Homemade Chili Powder (above)
    • 2 teaspoons paprika
    • 1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
    • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
    • 1½ teaspoons dried thyme leaves
    • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
    • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
    • 6½ cups chicken stock
    • 38-ounces canned diced tomatoes


Make the Bacon Onion Mix: In a large pot, cook the bacon until crisp. Remove the bacon and reserve. Return half of the bacon fat to the pot and at high heat add the onions and sauté until brown, then add garlic and sweat briefly. Return the bacon to the pan, cook for 3-5 minutes. Remove and reserve.

Make the Ancho Chile Puree: Place the anchos in a small size pot with 1 cup chicken stock, bring to a boil and simmer till tender. Puree anchos in stock and reserve.

Make the Homemade Chili Powder: Preheat the oven to 350F. On two large baking sheets, toast the ancho chiles for 9 minutes and the pasilla chiles for 5 minutes. When cool, crumble the chiles and grind each using a spice grinder. Combine the ground spices together and store in an airtight container.

Make the Chili Con Carne:

In a small saucepan, toast the cumin seeds. Using a mortar and pestle, crush the seeds. Set aside.

Heat a medium to large sauce pot over high flame. Once the pan is hot, add the lard. Scatter the beef evenly and don't move around the pot until it is browned well. Lower the fire to three-quarters of the flame and flip the beef like a pancake. Allow the other side to brown well. Once brown on both sides, stir and break up beef into small pieces. Add the 3½ tablespoons of the Homemade Chili Powder, toasted cumin, paprika, oregano, black pepper, thyme, cayenne and salt. Cook for 5 minutes and add the diced tomatoes, Bacon Onion Mix and Ancho Chile Puree. Cook for 5 minutes and then add remaining chicken stock. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 1½ hours. Serve immediately.

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