Chili spice photo by David Dickey
The secret to the best chili in town? I still haven’t found a bowl that beats the one at John Howie’s Sport restaurant. Even better, Howie is generous about sharing the secrets behind that chili, freely giving up the recipe years back when I asked him to help out with some Super Bowl winners. His Texas-style brew is all meat, no beans, and the knockout flavor comes from a generous mix of spices — ancho, chipotle, habanero, and mild chili powders, along with coriander, basil, and some other surprises. Pineapple juice lends it acidity and a note of sweetness. Best of all, it’s a breeze to make.
The list of ingredients looks daunting, but putting the recipe together couldn’t be easier. Buy the spices from bulk bins at area markets (I raided Central) and they’ll cost you dimes instead of dollars. The hard part would be dicing up pounds of meat, but, luckily, most supermarket butchers will do that for you. (It helps to call in advance and give them a couple hours notice.) Be sure to sear the meat and onions in batches rather than one big lump; otherwise it’ll all steam instead of brown. Then it’s just a matter of dumping in a bunch of spices and seasonings and letting it simmer. Remember to stir it now and then. It makes enough for some super-big bowls for a game-day crowd, but it freezes well too.
Eat some and you’ll cheer for more than sports. Photo by David Dickey
John Howie’s Texas Chili
Makes 1 gallon
1/2 cup canola oil
4 pounds white onion, diced
4 pounds chuck roast or other beef, diced in 3/4-inch by 1-inch pieces
1 pound pork, diced in 3/4-inch by 1-inch pieces
3 cups tomato sauce
2 1/2 cups pineapple juice
1 cup water
1/2 cup mild chili powder
1 tablespoon ancho chile powder
1 1/2 teaspoons chipotle chile powder
1/8 teaspoon habanero chile powder (omit this if you can’t find it)
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons ground basil
1 1/2 teaspoons granulated garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons sweet paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
5 bay leaves
Place oil in a large stock pot or braising pan, add the beef and onions in small batches and sear until the onions are tender.
Add the remaining ingredients, bring to a simmer, and cook for three hours, stirring frequently. Serve with cheddar cheese, tortilla strips and salsa on top.