San Antonio’s Best Beef Chili

Long before Texas became a U.S. state, the “Chili Queens” of San Antonio would sell their chilies from outdoor kettles in the public square.

Serves: 8Hands-on: 20 minutesTotal: 3 hours 20 minutesDifficulty: Medium

Serves: 8


  • ⅓ cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 lbs. beef shoulder, cut into 2" cubes
  • ⅓ cup bacon fat
  • 2 large onions, peeled and diced
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1½ cups beef broth
  • 4 cups water
  • 4 dried ancho chili peppers
  • 3 dried New Mexico chili peppers
  • 3 dried serrano chili peppers
  • 2 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. dried cilantro


  • Toss flour with beef until meat is lightly coated. In a large, heavy skillet, heat bacon fat over medium-high heat. Brown beef; add onions and garlic. Cook 2–3 minutes, or until onions soften.
  • Add broth; stir well. Lower heat to medium; simmer 20 minutes, stirring often.
  • Add 2 cups water. While meat mixture continues to simmer, remove stems and seeds from dried peppers. Cut peppers into pieces; place in a heat-safe bowl. Bring remaining 2 cups water to a boil; pour over chilies. Let stand 20 minutes.
  • Remove chilies from water with slotted spoon; place in food processor or blender with small amount of soaking water. Pulse to purée; add to simmering meat.
  • Add cumin and cilantro; stir well. Simmer uncovered 2 hours. Stir often; add water if chili becomes too dry.