Recipe of the Week: No Ta-mater Chili, by H

It’s called No Ta-mater Chili ’cause Charlie Goodnight didn’t have no ta-maters on the trail drives, comprende? If you have to ask who’s Charlie Goodnight, you got no bidness making chili inna first place! Look him up! Also, look up his partner Oliver Loving while you’re at it. Now there’s some preppers for you.


  • 4 pounds lean beef stew meat or brisket, trimmed of most of the fat
  • 3 Tbsp cooking oil
  • 5 Tbsp chili powder (Use more, if you want it. I use 8 or 10 Tbsp.)
  • 1 Tbsp comino powder (This is also called cumin. Use more if you like it.)
  • 2 baseball sized onions, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces (You can use softball sized onions, if you like.)
  • 5 large cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ground oregano.
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste (I use about 1 Tablespoon of each, to start.)
  • 1 Tbsp hot sauce from Louisiana or Texas (Don’t use hot sauce from someplace back east.)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 can dark beer, optional


The day before you want to eat the chili, cook it. It will always taste better the second day. If you are incapable of advance planning, or just ignorantly insist on eating chili the same day you cook it, start early in the morning and let it simmer all day. Time and low cooking temperatures are your friends with stew meat or brisket.

  1. Start by chopping the meat into ¼ to ½ inch pieces, but don’t get wrapped around the axle getting a uniform size. You could also grind it using a grinder plate with LARGE holes.
  2. Heat a large cast iron pot over medium high heat, then add cooking oil. After the oil is hot, add meat. DO NOT BROWN THE MEAT! Stir it frequently until it turns a uniform gray color. The meat will typically release a lot of water. This is good.
  3. Stir in the chili powder, comino (cumin), onions, and garlic. Add water as necessary to keep the mass semi-fluid. Add a beer, if you want. (Dark beer is better.) Reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally for about 45 minutes.
  4. Stir in the oregano and about half the salt, black pepper, hot sauce, and cayenne pepper. After this simmers 5 or 10 minutes, adjust the seasonings to your taste and simmer another 45 minutes, or longer if you have time, stirring occasionally and adding more water when necessary to keep the mass semi-fluid. Remove from heat, and refrigerate overnight, or set out on back porch if it’s cold enough.

The next day, heat to a simmer and cook for as long as possible, three hours minimum. The longer the better, and all day is best. Always remember that time and low temperature are your friends in tenderizing the meat, thickening the juices, and also turning the juices a nice deep brown color. Stir occasionally and add water as necessary to keep the mass semi-fluid.

Check for taste at least once an hour before you want to eat, and adjust as necessary. If you’ve cooked the chili long enough, the onions will have disintegrated. You could add some fresh chopped onion the last half hour or so for texture, if you want. Serve with hot cornbread or warm flour tortillas whenever possible, with hot sauce on the side. Feeds six or so, more or less.

If beans are desired, and I will not be judgmental on that decision, use two or more 15-oz cans of pintos, kidney, or ranch beans. Mash one can up into a paste and use it to thicken the sauce. Adjust seasonings after adding the paste. Add the other can or cans about an hour before you eat, and again adjust seasonings as necessary.

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