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Authentic 1840 Texas Chili

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“Received this in chatting with a Texas cook a few years ago, and, as we all have our own views of "chili" today, this is where it all got started (actual credit to Texas Governmor Ann Richards, who attribuited Jim Perry of the XIT Ranch in the Texas Panhandle, as being the method of cooking on a cattle drive... While very simplistic, the longer it cooks, the better it tastes, and showcases the lack of ingredients that could be found on a cattle drive, I argue that as the drives passed settlements its logical that fresh killed beef was traded for services (laundry?) or fresh veggies, so that the legend of tasting better as time went on would reflect veggies added at a later date. No refrigeration just constant heat in the chuckwagon. Chili cooks should all try this once! Meat, in its original sense, would not have been expensive cuts, or be very "aged", and would not have been finely ground, but rather "roughly chopped"...but remember to use "fatty" meat!”
2hrs 20mins

Ingredients Nutrition

  • 2 lbs coarsely chopped fatty beef (NOT lean)
  • 2 ounces animal fat (bacon grease is best, but suet is in theme)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 large chopped onion
  • 3 -5 tablespoons chili powder


  1. Render the fat to liquid.
  2. Add the beef, and brown lightly, then add onions and garlic.
  3. (IMPORTANT Do NOT drain the fat or drippings).
  4. Cook over medium heat, until onions are translucent, then add spices, stirring gently until blended.
  5. Continue over low heat for at least two hours, stirring every 30 minutes.
  6. Add salt to taste, though it doesn't need much.
  7. If it gets too thick, you can add water, but remember that chili is reputed to be able to stand a spoon up straight!
  8. Its edible after two hours, but improves vastly with time, so don't be afraid to cook 6 or 8 or ten hours --
  9. After you've tried the "original" recipe as above, you could add one or two jalapeno's, a single tomato and/or green pepper, just to fully appreciate how far this dish has evolved -- .

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