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Original San Antonio Chili

by Judith Finlayson

Original San Antonio Chili

Original San Antonio Chili

If you are looking for the ground beef chili your mother made for Friday night dinner, this isn’t it. If instead you want to taste what amounts to a fabulous, highly spiced beef stew, then I highly recommend this chili. Leftovers reheat well.

 From The Chile Pepper Bible by Judith Finlayson

Gluten-Free Friendly


To reconstitute dried chiles, remove the stems and place in a heatproof bowl. Add 2 cups (500 mL) boiling beef stock and soak for 30 minutes, weighing the chiles down with a cup to ensure they remain submerged.

If you want to make a version of this dish that is similar to the one made by former U.S. President Lyndon Johnson, substitute venison for the beef. You can also cube a beef chuck roast and use it in place of the stewing beef.



   Dutch oven

2            each ancho and guajillo chiles,  reconstituted (see Tips)           2

12 cup    fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems 125 mL

2 tbsp    pure lard or oil                                      30 mL

1 lb each trimmed boneless stewing beef & stewing pork, cut into 12-inch (1 cm) cubes & patted dry (see Tips) 500 g

2             onions, thinly sliced on the vertical         2

6             cloves garlic, minced                                   6

1 tbsp    each ground cumin and dried  Mexican oregano        15 mL

                Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1              serrano or jalapeño pepper, thinly sliced (optional)   1

6              green onions (white and green parts), very thinly sliced (optional)   6

                Crumbled Mexican cheese, 
 such as soft cotija

1.  Transfer reconstituted chiles with liquid to blender. Add cilantro and purée until smooth. Set aside.

2. Meanwhile, in Dutch oven, melt lard over medium-high heat. Add beef and pork, in batches, and brown on all sides, about 2 minutes per batch. Transfer to a plate as completed and set aside. Reduce heat to medium.

3. Preheat oven to 325°F (160°C). Add sliced onions to pan and cook, stirring, until softened, about 4 minutes. Add garlic, cumin and oregano and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Return beef and pork to pan. Add reserved ancho and guajillo chile mixture and stir well. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Bring to a boil. Cover and transfer to preheated oven. Bake until meat is very tender, about 2 hours.

4. Ladle into warm soup plates. Garnish with serrano pepper (if using) and green onions (if using). Sprinkle with cheese.


Makes 6 servings