Preparation: 10 minutes. Cooking: 2 hours (longer in a slow cooker)
Tolbert wrote the book in the 1960s - it's a kind of culinary history book that talks about the origins of various Texan recipes, including 'original' Texas chili con carne, a dish that doesn't have onions, tomatoes or beans anywhere near it.
Although A Bowl Of Red isn't strictly a recipe book, it covers a number of Texan recipes in enough detail to recreate them for yourself.
This is my first attempt and the results were so good that I'll be trying again pretty soon..
- 5 dried Ancho chiles
- 2 dried Mulatto chiles
- 2 dried Pasilla chiles
- 1kg beef skirt
- 3 large garlic cloves, chopped
- 3 tsp cumin seeds, toasted and ground
- 2 tsp dried oregano (I used Mexican oregano)
- 1 tbsp smoked paprika
- Salt, Cayenne pepper and Tabasco sauce to taste
- Toast the dried chiles in dry sauté pan for 2 or 3 minutes per side. Take care not to burn them, as they will become bitter.
- Put the toasted chiles in a bowl and cover them with boiling water. Place a saucer / bowl on top to ensure the chiles are pushed under the surface of the water. Leave for 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, take the beef skirt steak and chop it into half inch chunks. Put a drop of oil into the sauté pan and brown off the meat. You may need to do this in batches.
- Keep the meat on a medium heat and add the garlic, ground cumin and oregano. Fry for a few more minutes, stirring to combine flavours. Add enough water to the pan to barely cover the meat and let it simmer.
- Remove your chiles from the soaking liquid (retain the liquid) - take off the stalks and remove the seeds then put them in a blender and blitz them to a puree. You may need to add some of the soaking liquid to the blender in order to get them to puree nicely.
- Add the chile puree to the meat and stir it in, along with the paprika.
- Taste the soaking liquid - if it isn't overly bitter add enough of it to the pan to cover the meat by half an inch or so. If it is bitter, use water instead.
- At this point you can either cover and simmer on a low heat for 40 minutes or transfer it to a slow cooker for a longer simmer.
- Check the taste and add salt, cayenne pepper and/or Tabasco to bring it up to the level of spicy heat you prefer.
- Take a few tablespoons of the liquid off the chili and put it in a small bowl. Add a tablespoon of masa harina (or plain flour if you have no masa harina) to the chili liquid and stir it to make a lump free slurry (you may need to squash any lumps with the back of a spoon). Add the slurry back to the pot, stir it in and leave it 30 minutes to simmer and thicken up.
- Do one last taste test just before serving, adding salt, cayenne pepper and/or Tabasco as you prefer.
- Serve with rice.