Friday, December 3, 2010

To Bean...or Not to Bean: Wendy's Wow Factor Texas Chili...

I’m a Native Texan…I’ve never lived anywhere else, and I take great pride in being a Texan! I grew up in Alvin, a small town between Houston and Galveston. I lived in Denton (north of Dallas/Ft. Worth) for a few years when I went to college at University of North Texas. Then I moved here to San Antonio to attend law school in 2000. I’ve lived all over this huge state, and one thing’s for certain: Texans LOVE their spicy food...Tex-Mex, Cajun, BBQ, and chili! Heck, we have entire contests devoted to determining whose chili is the The Best! I’ve never taken part in a chili cookoff, but I made some chili last night that’s a winner in my book: full of meat and perfectly seasoned.

There’s a Great Chili Debate when it comes to beans v. no beans in chili. Around these parts, native Texans will tell you that a proper pot of chili has NO BEANS…ever! I’ve never added beans to my chili….to the vast majority of Texans, chili is about the meat and the heat! I decided to make a pot of chili earlier this week. It was a chilly evening, and I was dying to try the Hill Country Chili Powder that’s part of the Wendy’s Wow Factor spice set that I created with Spices, Inc. Wow, this is some FANTASTIC chili powder!! It made a perfect pot of chili. It was plenty spicy, but not TOO hot…with a bit of smoke from some chipotle in the mix. Chili is a great weeknight meal because it’s simple to whip up, inexpensive, and can be on the table in less than an hour.

I admit that I do break from Texas chili tradition a bit, though. I make my chili with a 50/50 mixture of coarse-ground beef and lean ground turkey to save on fat and calories. I also serve my chili with toppings: light sour cream, shredded jack cheese, and sliced green onions. I usually serve hot buttered cornbread with my chili, but I opted for tortilla chips this time -- we like to crush them on top for some crunch! Here’s my recipe for chili. Feel free to add beans if that’s what you’re used to…I won’t hold it against you! Simply add a can of drained beans during the last five minutes of cooking.

Wendy’s Wow Factor Texas Chili

Step 1:  Add a drizzle of olive oil to a large Dutch oven. Add half of a diced yellow onion and two finely chopped cloves of garlic – I like to grate it with my microplane. Cook for about five minutes, until the onion is translucent.

Step 2:  Add 1 lb. coarse-grind ground beef (sometimes packaged as chili beef) and 1 lb. 93% lean ground turkey. Brown the meat, breaking it up with your spoon along the way. When the meat is browned, drain off any fat. If you use this combo of meat, you shouldn’t have much fat, though.

Step 3:  Add 1.5 tsp. salt, 2 tbs. chili powder, an 8-ounce can of tomato sauce, and 2.5 cups water. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to med-low. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

Step 4:  Combine 1/3 cup water and 1/4 cup dried masa (corn flour) in a measuring cup. This mixture will be sort of like paste -- not pourable. 

Spoon the masa mixture into the chili and stir well to combine. The masa acts as a thickening agent and adds a nice richness to the chili. 

Simmer the chili for five more minutes to let the masa do its thing. This is where you’d add beans…if you are so inclined. Ladle the chili into bowls. I serve the toppings in little containers at the table so people can add them to suit their tastes. 

This recipe makes about four or five bowls of chili. I had some leftover and used it to make a slammin' batch of chili dogs while we watched the Texans play the Eagles last night! I'm sharing this recipe with my friend Kim for her weekly Saturday Swap on her blog, Quit Eating Out. Go check it out...and maybe share a recipe of your own. You'll find some great new recipes and blogs to visit!!


  1. This is a totally new way to make chili for me... anxious to try it! PS ~ I like beans in chili. And love that you added turkey. I'm trying to find little ways like that to make my meals healthier. Have a great weekend!

  2. I love chili and that's one good looking bowl, Wendy! I'm in the no beans camp, too. Glad you liked the chili powder. I love Spices Inc spices - had used Penzey's for years, but after using Greg's maharajah curry powder, I was a convert. Emailed you my address, too.

  3. When we make chili in our house, we have to make 2 batches. My husband's batch with beans, and everything but the kitchen sink, and mine without beans and ground turkey and spices, no jalapeno.
    I'm going to tr the masa though in the next batch.
    Thanks for sharing.

  4. I love love love chili and I especially love it during this time of year when it's freezing outside. Your chili looks amazing!!! I wish I could come to your house and have you cook for me. YUM! :)

  5. Chili is just the best to eat when the weather is cold. I will probably make some this weekend. At our house we are in the beans camp, but I have never added masa to my chili before. Thanks for that tip in the Saturday Swap. I will try it this weekend and make a big enough batch for chili dogs the next day.

    I'm a Fiesta collector and I always love running across photos using the dishes. Thanks for that smile, too.

  6. @Kim: I think beans v. no beans is a regional thing, as are the type of beans used.

    @Louanne: I think I'm fast becoming a convert too!! And I didn't get an e-mail from you.

    @Becky: Give the masa a adds a subtle "something" to the taste and helps with the consistency.

    @Lindsey: You're welcome you have plans to visit Monet in Austin? If so, I'm only 70ish miles away ;)!

    @Becky: Welcome! I love my Fiesta...I registered for them when I got married, and they're my everyday dishes. We love all the great color combos...

  7. It looks like a really easy but good recipe for chili...and much faster than mine. And you know my stance on beans. I still wish I could make mine taste like gpa wofford's. I don't know what he did (except the frozen white bread for dipping) but I sure did love it when we were little. When I make chili I add cocoa powder and a bit of coffee. It adds a richness we enjoy....
    p.s. will you send me masa(just a small bag) in the xmas box? they don't sell it anywhere here now that my local mexi-market shut! and i want to make tamales for xmas...


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