My take on Texas chilli – smoking hot BBQ in the rain !!!

What with the inclement weather and being away at my Mother’s for the only decent weekend recently it seems an age since I got my Pro Q Smoker out to play.


This weekend I was determined to get something done on it and a rummage through the freezer dug up some beef shin and pork shoulder. Now with this I would normally go for hot smoked links (sausages, people), but on looking through some BBQ forums for inspiration I came upon the idea of slow cooked smoked chilli, Texas style.

Now I have a love hate relationship with chilli (con carne) as it seems to range between incendiarily hot (where it hurts going in and you fear it coming …… – you get the picture, I hope, without further elaboration) and a slightly bastardised bland version of spag bol. For me it needs to marry heat with flavour. To much heat and the taste buds are battered to a flaming submission – to little and it just ain’t chilli.

Mrs. SF makes a good one (as in all things – I am such a creep, but as Mrs. SF says flattering gets me absolutely nowhere) but I had a hankering for the real deal Texas chilli , which uses diced meat (not mince) and no beans.


Many of the ingredients will seem a bit odd in a chilli, but trust me the proof of the pudding is, as they say, in the eating.

Some of the many ingredients

So here is my slightly twisted take on good ole chilli.

Feeds 4


° 300 grams shin of beef (can use stewing steak but I prefer shin and it is cheaper). If you use shin make sure you remove the tough membrane that surrounds the meat. Do this by cutting in half length ways and then get the knife between meat and membrane and cut as if skinning a fish;
° 150 grams of diced pork shoulder or belly (needs to be fatty);
° 1 onion (diced);
° 1 tin of chopped tomatoes;
°1 tablespoon of tomato puree;
° 1- 2 whole dried chili peppers (I used Chipolte Morita chillies – which have a lovely smokey flavour – from Clancey’s a great spice stall in Cardiff’s central market);
° 1 bouquet garni ( teabag one is fine)
° 50 grams chorizo (cut into small pieces) -optional;
° 2 squares of dark chocolate (at least 70% cocao solids) – optional;
° 1 tablespoon soft brown sugar;
° 25 gram chunk (not grated) of salty cheese (e.g. parmesan) – I know getting very weird, but it works honest and means no need for salt – optional, but if don’t use do add salt;
° 400 mils liquid (I used 330 mils of beer and then topped it up with water)
° the kitchen sink (I am, of course, joking).

Spice mix

° 1 teaspoon chilli (heat up to you – I went middle of the road);
° 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper;
° 1 -2 teaspoons paprika (use smoked if cooking in an oven rather than in smoker);
° 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin;
° 1 teaspoon of granulated garlic (if use fresh fry off with onion);
° 1/2 teaspoon of onion powder.

Mix these all together well.

Spice mix


step one

1. Put a large oven proof (and direct flame proof) pan/casserole dish on hob and heat up oil and then brown off the meat. Once browned off remove meat with slotted spoon.
2. Fry onion until translucent and then return the meat to the pan.
3. Add the spice mix and stir so the meat is well coated.
4. Add the liquid and then all of the other ingredients and bring to the simmer and leave for about 10 mins.

About to go in smoker

Step two

This depends on whether you are going to use a smoker (which I did) or the oven.

If you are using the oven I would say put in for 4 hours plus on a low heat (same heat you would use for a very slow cook casserole say 140°c) with lid on, checking liquid levels every now and again to ensure it doesn’t dry out.

Doing it in the oven will mean you will not have benefit of the wood smoke infusing into the chilli, but if you use the chillies I used and smoked paprika you should have a good smoked flavour in any event.

If you are using a smoker, prep it as per my blog post on the Pro Q and get temperature up to around the 250°f . I used presoaked mesquite wood chips for the smoke (which works well with beef and pork) and left it to cook for 5 hours at a constant 250°f with the lid off.

Once the meat is spoon cut tender, take it out of oven/smoker. If possible leave overnight as this allows flavours to infuse.

Out of the smoker

Eat with boiled rice or in burritos etc. Drinks wise I would recommend a good pale ale or bitter. I drank it with a couple of beauties (beers,I mean beers) from the Gravity Station in Cardiff and very nice it was too with it.


If you want wine I would go for a Primitivo (a robust red from Puglia, Italy).

The verdict

I know some of the ingredients sound a bit weird (chocolate and cheese) but the overall effect is a chilli that has rounded spice and a real depth of flavour. There is heat but it complements rather than overwhelms the flavours. I was very happy with it and in my view it is so much better than a bog standard mince and beans chilli.


It takes a long time to cook but that is just waiting time and the actual prep is very easy.

The added bonus for me was I have established I can BBQ in the rain.

Would I make it again? Definitely – this is the way to go chilli wise



  1. Love Texas Chilli! – It is so much nicer with the diced meat rather than mince, and has a wonderful colour. I have a good recipe from my Martha Stewart American Food book. Recommended to have with a side of cornbread – yummy!!


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