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.




Make Ahead RecipeYes

One Pot MealYes

Dietary RestrictionsGluten Free



Taste and TextureSpiced


  • 2 each ancho and guajillo chiles, 2 reconstituted (see Tips)
  • 1⁄2 cup (125 mL) fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems
  • 2 tbsp (30 mL) pure lard or oil
  • 1 lb (500 g) each trimmed boneless stewing beef and stewing pork, cut into 1⁄2-inch (1 cm) 
 cubes and patted dry (see Tips)
  • 2 onions, thinly sliced on the vertical
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp (15 mL)each ground cumin and dried Mexican oregano
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 serrano or jalapeño pepper, thinly sliced (optional)
  • 6 green onions (white and green parts), very thinly sliced (optional)
  • 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.


  1. 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.

  2. 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.


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