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  • Writer's pictureElizabeth Biar

How to Make Texas Chili

Updated: May 10, 2021

Texas Chili needs spices!
Texas Chili needs spices!

My mom always used a Wick Fowler Chili Kit to prepare our chili when I was growing up. She was originally from Georgia, but she married a Native Texan, and we had our chili without beans. Regarding the great bean debate: I’ve heard that it is not so much that Texans don’t appreciate beans in their chili; instead, we just have so many ways to eat chili. Adding beans is just another way of enjoying the dish.

Chili has a fascinating history. The dish was created by San Antonians in the 1800s. Red chile, cumin, and other spices were combined with cheap beef to make a delicious, hearty meal. Originally called chili con carne, the food could be found at chili stands in San Antonio. Chili Queens were women who prepared and sold meals, particularly chili, out of their homes or chili stands. Robb Walsh, one of my favorite writers on Texas food history, has an excellent book called The Tex-Mex Cookbook if you’d like to read more in-depth.

Chili has always been a part of my history as well. I prepare chili regularly for my family, and I use Wick Fowler’s, too. Time is usually in short supply. Why re-create the wheel when Wick Fowler already has all of the spices measured out?

Who is Wick Fowler anyway? He was a chili expert – founding the Chili Appreciation Society International and winning the first Terlingua Chili Cook Off. If he’s not an expert, I don’t know who is!

While using the chili kit is easy, I thought it was time to try my own hand at it. Still being short on time, I found a recipe for Copy Kat Wick Fowler 2 Alarm Chili. I credit Stephanie Manley and her recipe.

Her recipe is tasty. It is called 2 Alarm Chili, but I found it milder than the Wick Fowler False Alarm Mild Chili Kit. I usually make False Alarm as I feel it has plenty of spice. I very much enjoyed the flavor of the Copy Kat recipe. It was delicious!

I took a family vote on their opinion of Copy Kat v. the real deal. Only four of us were home that evening for dinner, and the vote was tied. I voted for Copy Kat. And, honestly, measuring out the spices only takes a split second more. I recommend it!

Spices and fresh onions for Texas Chili
Spices and fresh onions for Texas Chili

Of note: I used fresh onion and garlic in my recipe, which is a deviation from Wick Fowler. I do sometimes cook the beef with onion in the Wick Fowler recipe. However, I enjoyed substituting the fresh onion and garlic for the powered. One last note, any ground beef works, but I always use 96% lean to try to be healthy. Try is the keyword, especially when I add cheese and Fritos!


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