Texas Chili Sous-Vide

Chili is a American dish of beef and chiles. There are many versions and debates about what is and is not authentic chili. I trust the judgement of Adam J. Holland aka The Unorthodox Epicure on what is real chili, and the recipe in this post is based upon his recipe for “Texas competition-style chili”. One of the debates is about whether tomatoes should be included in Texas Chili. I am glad that Adam’s recipe does include tomato, because I like the ‘brightness’ this brings to an otherwise very earthy dish. By the way, there are never beans in Texas-style chili.

To give the chili an amazing velvety texture and great depth of flavor I first brown the beef, and then grind (or dice) it and cook it sous-vide in the sauce. By grinding the beef after browning, the beef stays so much more juicy and tender. This is also a great meal for freezing, as it can be served right out of the sous-vide bag.


450 grams (1 lb) stewing beef, such as chuck or boneless shortribs

70 grams (3 oz) double concentrated tomato paste

250 ml (1 cup) beef stock

1 ancho chile

1 guajillo chile

1 New Mexico chile

1 chipotle in adobo

1 onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

2 tsp cumin

1 tsp oregano


4 Tbsp beef fat (or vegetable oil)

pinch of brown sugar

to garnish: grated cheddar and fresh cilantro


Start by lightly toasting the dried chiles in a hot frying pan, taking care not to burn them. For the best flavor it is important to use a blend of different types of chiles: earthy (ancho), smoky (guajillo), and fruity (New Mexico). If you like it very spicy, you could also include a more spicy type of chile.

After toasting the chiles, put them in a bowl and cover with 250 ml (1 cup) of boiling water. Allow them to soak for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, brown the beef in beef fat. If you make your own beef stock, the fat that will float on top is very easy to remove after refrigerating the stock overnight. You can use this beef fat to brown the meat and give the chili another boost of beef flavor. If you don’t have beef fat, you could use vegetable oil instead. Brown the beef in one piece or in thick steaks on all sides over medium heat until deeply browned. For better browning, pat the beef dry with paper towels before you start.

Take the beef out of the pan and set it aside on a plate to cool. There will be browned bits left in the pan that contain a lot of flavor that we want inside the chili.

To achieve this, add a chopped onion and season with salt.

Stir over medium heat until the onion is soft and golden, then add a minced clove of garlic.

Add the tomato paste and stir for a minute, still over medium heat.

Drain the chiles, discarding the soaking water, and puree them in a blender with the beef stock and a chipotle in adobo.

Add the beef stock and chiles mixture to the pan with the onions.

Stir and bring to a boil.

Lower the heat and simmer until the sauce has been reduced by about half. It should be very thick, as the beef will release juices into the sauce later while there will be no more evaporation once the sauce and beef have been vacuum sealed together. Turn off the heat when the sauce has thickened to your liking. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and (if you like more heat) cayenne pepper. Allow the sauce to cool.

Once the beef has cooled to room temperature, cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate to allow it to cool further.

Cut the beef into cubes. You can make chili with cubed beef or ground beef according to your preference.

If you like cubed beef, leave it as is, or grind the cubes if you prefer ground beef.

Add the beef to the sauce…

…and stir to mix.

Vacuum seal using a chamber vacuum sealer or a ziplock bag and the water displacement method. You could also freeze the beef with the sauce first, and use a FoodSaver-type vacuum sealer to vacuum seal once frozen. Cook the beef and sauce sous-vide for 18 to 24 hours at 74C/165F. You can also do this from frozen (same time and temperature).

The chili can be served straight from the bag. If you reduced the sauce sufficiently, the thickness will be perfect.

Garnish with grated cheddar and fresh cilantro, and serve.



Smoked eggplant ravioli in broth is an elegant and original vegetarian dish. First eggplant is smoked, then a broth is made from the eggplant skin and the eggplant pulp is reduced to become a filling for ravioli. The ravioli are then served in the eggplant broth. The smoking adds a nice sweet smokiness to the dish. The combination of the delicate ravioli with a soft flavorful eggplant filling in a fragrant broth is absolutely delicious and quite original.


12 thoughts on “Texas Chili Sous-Vide

  1. As a Texan, I applaud your excellent chili! Texas chili must have tomato but never has beans. The New Mexico chili demonstrates a West Texas origin for this recipe. It would never be used in most parts of the state.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It looks very good. I use close to the same process. Yes, I confirm there are no beans in chili and no crying in baseball [smile]. Colorado folks make green chili which is completely different. My wife is a master at it.
    Once a long time ago, Shanghai Sam [a Dallas businessman] was imprisoned in China during WWII. He survived and thrived by making Texas chili. Long story. He served his recipe at the Texas State Fair for a few years in 1950’s-1960’s. Serving reflected his time in China: cover the bottom of the bowl with rice [filler in the camp], make a small depression and fill with some diced onion, cover it all with chili, and top with cheese. It makes a great sturdy meal. One of my favorite ways to serve chili. It was a hit in France too when I made it for 20+ folks.
    Keep cooking!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Am thinking of an erstwhile lovely blogfriend as I read this. How beautifully and at length he explained the ‘chilli’ cuisine to me . . . Guess you remember also. At this end of the world know but little of Tex-Mex cooking but like your recipe and it has arrived on top of the kitchen pile . . . hope your dinner party went well . . .

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I was thinking of our friend Richard McGary too while reading this Stefan. While I bow to Adam’s knowledge and revere his chili, I will always be grateful to the man from DFW for his encouragement, guidance and great sense of fun.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. It’s funny that y’all mention Richard, because this entry brought him to my mind as well. He was awesome. — Thank you for the credit, Stefan. This looks like a wonderful bowl of Texas red. I’m seriously curious how well this would rate in a chili cook-off, if only because the meat becomes melty.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. They were both good. You could certainly mix the ingredients and the cooking techniques of both versions. The other one has a darker flavor. Sous-vide of course gives the meat a better texture. I now know that personally I like it better with tomato.


Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.