Monday, January 28, 2013

Jan's Cowboy Chili

It's Cowboy time in town!

Bigger than the Christmas shopping season, bigger than the County Fair...and second only to the Sturgis Bike Rally (which brings upwards of a half million people to our area)...

It's the Black Hills Stock Show and Rodeo!!!

 This is where you buy your new Stetson or Rodeo King hat,

a new pair of Ariat jeans or Justin boots.
 This is where you show off your best stock dog or pick up the pup to start your new line.
You can improve your stock other ways, too - Sunday was the stallion show, later this week will be heifers and bulls.

And then there's the chili cook off.

This is real cowboy chili - the kind you eat from the back of a chuck wagon after a long day in the saddle.

(By the way, you can buy a chuck wagon at the Stock Show, too!)

Meaty, spicy, tomatoey and rich...mmmm....

It makes you want to sink your life savings in a custom made Stetson!

In honor of the Stock Show, I'm sharing my own version of Cowboy Chili.

This is different than any other kind of chili I make - -

...there's Chili con Carne, made with ground beef and lots of chili powder...

...and there's Cincinnati style chili - I like mine 5-way with spaghetti, chili, beans, onions and cheese...

...and, of course, Chili Verde, made with chicken, white beans and green chilies...

But none of them hold a candle to the real thing.

Jan's Cowboy Chili

Start with about 1 1/2 pounds steak. I like to use round steak, or these little chuck steaks.

They're slightly icy in this picture - being slightly frozen makes the meat easier to handle.

Cut the meat into 1/2 inch cubes, and then prepare the marinade.

Marinade ingredients:
1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup oil - vegetable or olive
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Mix the marinade ingredients together, and then pour over the cubed meat in a plastic bag or glass bowl. Put it in the refrigerator and let it marinate for at least 30 minutes - an hour or two is better.

While we're waiting for the meat to soak up all those great flavors, we'll have a peek at the heifers....

After an hour or so, it's time to start cooking the chili.

Drain the marinated meat, reserving the onions and meat.

Brown in a tablespoon of olive oil in a large pot, and then add the rest of the ingredients:

2 cups beef broth
2 cans red beans (drained and rinsed)
1 can (14 oz.) tomato sauce
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
1 teaspoon oregano
2 tablespoons cumin

Let all this simmer, covered, for an hour or two. Or three. Or put it in the crock pot for a half day or so...

Now, lift the lid and take a whiff. Don't you feel like you're on a cattle drive with the cowboy of your dreams?

And don't forget to stick around for the PRCA Rodeo this weekend!


  1. Jan, I added a live link to this because their web page is AMAZING! I want to come to this. This is a real-live, Western event.

    Oh my stars, I could wear city girl cowboy boots and a STETSON and look so cool!!!! :) Seriously, I'd love to come to something like this, what a great research week for writing western.... Everyone should RUN to this link, and then come back to learn the secrets of your chili made with steak... Oh, it looks wonderful, Jan!

    1. Thanks for putting in the live link, Ruthy!

      And you're right - if you want to soak up REAL cowboy culture, this is the place to do it!

      I have to tell you about a cute young couple at our church...

      He grew up on a ranch, she grew up on a farm in East River (that's eastern South Dakota - Laura Ingalls Wilder country). One thing led to another, and he proposed by taking her for an airplane ride over his family's ranch. She said he was shaking so hard, she was glad he waited until he landed the plane before popping the question!

      They wear matching cowboy boots to church. Isn't that the sweetest thing?

    2. And Ruthy? Anytime you want to come west, just let me know!

  2. So why aren't you writing cowboy heroes, Jan????????? I'd love the herding trials. Simba says Arrroooooo -- which translates to 'when can we go?' :-) I'll skip the chili though since I think something would be lost in the translation if I substituted tofu or texturized vegetable protein. LOL.

    1. Kav, I have a feeling the cowboy heroes are coming. We have so much history around here, plus the contrast of the Hills and the prairies...huge ranches, antelope, bison, the Gold Rush in the 1870's, Deadwood, and the whole story of the Sioux tribes and the Indian Wars...I can't wait to capture this area in a book!

      But there are still a few Amish stories wanting to be told.

      Simba would love those stock dog trials! I haven't been to this one yet (maybe this year...), but we used to go to the Bluegrass Trials in Lexington, KY. It's so much fun watching those dogs work - they love doing what they were born to do!

      And for the chili, I'm wondering what would happen if you left out the steak and marinated the beans...what do you think? Would they soak up the flavors like meat does?

      Of course, no cowboy in his right mind would eat vegetarian chili :)

  3. Wow, Jan! I've never heard of this type of chili. I'll definitely try it! The kids will love it because it doesn't have any chunks of tomatoes. :)

    1. You know, I make it this way because my family doesn't like tomato chunks, either.

      But the tomato sauce gives it that rich, red gravy-like chili goodness.

  4. Whoo-hoo! Jan, I love a gal who's not afraid of chipotle pepper.

    1. Afraid? Pish posh! I live for recipes where I can use it!

  5. ONE- my kids freaked out at the picture of the man stirring the pot with a shovel. SO FUNNY! We thought we cooked big batches!

    TWO "Chili Verde, made with chicken, white beans and green chilies..." Yummy. I want that now. That sounds amazing!!

    What do you think of cocoa powder in chili? I used to put that in as the 'secret ingredient' but once I ran out and no one even noticed.

    1. I've used it - no one here liked it. I blame their mid-western roots.

      I use cinnamon in my Cincinnati chili, though. Makes the whole thing slightly must bring out the sugar in the tomatoes.

      Oh, and the Chili Verde? I'll have to share that one sometime. Savory and yummy. And no cilantro :)

  6. P.S. I love cowboy culture, but since I see it all the time, I don't really look for it in fiction. I like something new and unusual.

  7. Yum.

    I had to explain to Man O that cumin is my favorite spice. It is the one spice that says "mexican" to me.

    Peace and thanks for another great recipe, Julie

    1. Me too. There's something about that earthy quality it gives the dish...I never make anything vaguely Mexican without it.

      That, and chipotle.

      Thanks, Julie!

    2. I love cumin, too, Julie! I'm sharing a recipe on Friday using it. :)