Texas Pork Chili – Time I got me some snake skin boots?

Pork Chili

We Irish are all small little people. We wear greasy flat caps and are inclined to doff our forelocks to our betters. We are introverted and talk in such a thick accent that no civilised person can understand what we are saying. This leads to further introversion, perpetuating our inward looking approach to life.

The Texans, on the other hand, are all big people. They add to their grand stature by wearing snake-skin boots with Cuban heels and top off their suntanned heads with large multi-gallon hats. They speak in loud, booming voices and stride about in a powerful, overbearing fashion. We could not be any more different to each other. 

One day last year, one of these big Texans, Mr. Richard McGary, reached out to me (as they say over there) and sent me a parcel of chilis with a few conditions. Since taking up the McGary Chilli Challenge, I have pretty well dived into this Tex Mex thing, having approached the original with a bit of trepidation.

Those chilis were sure to melt the ears off my baldy head. They would sear my throat and wrench my gut. Those Texans are a rough-hewn bunch and have brass-lined throats. Or so I thought at the time. The reality could not be further from the truth. Having taken the challenge, I have gone on to cook a number of chillis. Carne Adovada and Corn Tortillas, Beef Chilli with Corn Bread, and a few others un-posted but not un-enjoyed.

I thought it was worthwhile to give a straightforward Pork Chilli a go. Perhaps I am becoming a little bit Texan?

Plenty of chilli heat in the ingredients.

Plenty of chilli heat in the ingredients. Some say we should not use the beans.


  • 1 kilo (2 lb) pork pieces
  • .5 kilo (1 lb) pork mince
  • 5 onions
  • 2 tins of kidney beans
  • 1 tin of tomatoes
  • 1 good squeeze of tomato purée
  • 1 teaspoon of oregano
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin
  • 1 teaspoon of anchote
  • 1 dried Hatch chili
  • 1 new New Mexico Sandia hot chili
  • 1 new New Mexico Sandia medium chili
  • Pasilla Negro chili
  • Salt and pepper
Pour some hot water on the chilis and let them swell.

Pour some hot water on the chilis and let them swell like a Texan ego.

Next, dry-fry the cumin seeds.

Dry fry the cumin seeds until the aroma fills the room.

Dry fry the cumin seeds until the aroma fills the room. They would dry naturally in the Texan sun.

Pour them into the mortar and bash them with the pestle.

Bash the seeds until they are a nice fine powder.

Bash the seeds until they are a nice fine powder.

Chop the onions.

The onions only need to be chopped into quarter chunks.

The onions only need to be chopped into quarter chunks.

Fry the onions off in a little oil in the bottom of a casserole dish. Spoon them out when soft. Then add the pork and brown it in batches. Brown the mince too.

Brown the meat in the nice, onion flavoured oil.

Brown the meat in the nice, onion flavoured oil.

Next the fun bit. Take the chilis out of the water.

Ther's lots of heat hidden in these big beauties.

There’s lots of heat hidden in these big beauties.

Place the chilis into a blender and add some of the chili water.

Blend them until you start coughing.

Blend them until you start coughing. That’s the youngest daughter’s finger BTW.

Add more water until you have a lovely chili consistency. The spice got into the air and made us cough. Then add all the ingredients except the beans into the pot. Season with the salt and pepper.

Look at that colour. That is blended chilis and water.

Look at that colour. That is blended chilis and water. Big Texas colour and huge Texas flavour.

Add a half litre of water or stock.

I added a few 'beef bombs' to give it some nice meaty flavour.

I added a few ‘beef bombs’ to give it some nice meaty flavour.

Then pop the lid on and place in a 200º C oven for an hour. Check it occasionally and add more water if needed. Add the kidney beans after 40 minutes. Take the chili out and serve it with corn bread and a nice topping of cheese.

Big flavour making us that bit more Texan.

Big, big flavour making us that bit more Texan.

The chili was really fantastic. The different chilis added different depth and breadth of flavours. One could even call it subtle, if you would only believe me. I really think I should go out and buy those Cuban heeled snake-skin boots. I could then doff my forelock in a more extrovert kind or a way. Being a bit more Texan could do us Irish a bit of good.

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  • I’m wondering how many of your readers would pay good cash money to watch you eat your chilli in snakeskin boots and a multi-gallon hat. You’ll be calling us “y’all” next. Where will it all end…? But I must admit, that chilli looks pretty darn fine.

    • Thanks Kate. Coming from at rootin’ tootin’ Texan like yourself, I am honoured to hear that. Hopefully the hacking in the iCloud will not reveal any shots of me in boots and a multi-gallon hat!

      • Conor sorry for the late question i was away on holidays. where can you ge tthese Chillis in Dublin?

        Thanks, John

      • Sorry for the late question Conor i was away on holidays, where can you get these Chillis in Dublin?

        Thanks, John

        • Hi John,
          I am away for a few days myself. I got mine sent by a friend in Texas. A friend ordered more online and got a raft, some of which I managed to stroke. He got them here: mexgrocer.co.uk

  • Superb. And I was hoping you had taken up nail painting, I am reliably informed that the addition of beans is not allowed in the deep South Chilli cook-off types events – no fillers. However I could not imagine a chilli without beans (or two ‘L’s come to that!)

    • I have to admit to being totally confused by the spelling. I spent some time rigidly sticking to one L and then flopped to LL. On the beans end of things, I suspect they do as much filling as the rest of us. You couldn’t survive a round of chili without some bulking agent or other.

      • Agreed it would be, how to spell, enematic. That isn’t right.

    • Never beans! Or two “L’s”. But always with cornbread or tortillas. 🙂

      • Excellent. I wish we could get finality on this. I suspect we won’t.
        Thanks for visiting and for the informed comment!

  • I’m sure I’d enjoy that!
    I was at a food festival this weekend and thought of you when trying chilli products. I tasted a whole range of sauces, which to me were a bit mild. Later I found a stall selling vodka infusions – the chilli vodka was getting a lot of attention because everyone who tasted it lost the ability to speak. Of course I had to try it and sure enough I turned into a croaking frog with tears in my eyes – quite enjoyable nevertheless 😉

    • Some of that might be nice in the chili, for sure. Though, I have found the trick is in using a number of different varieties for depth and breadth of flavour. I’m getting too old to have the tongue melted.

      • I’m with you, I don’t really want to melt my tongue and I’m inclined to build up a flavour rather then add pre made sauces. The vodka, though, affected the throat rather than the tongue and was a bit different to the Russian variety I tried years ago, which made my head unpleasantly hot.

        • The pre-made sauces tend to only judge on one scale – heat. Anybody who has not experienced the range of flavours and depth of textures from the real thing is missing out. Speaking of missing out, on reflection, I think I’ll continue to miss the vodka!

          • Quite wise – I’d rather have a Zubrowka any day 😉

  • The chili looks wonderful, but you need to know something: If you are caught putting beans in your chili here in Texas, you’ll get back-handed, then strung up. 😉

    • Ha ha Adam. I’ll stay off your spread so. I’ll do my trailer dining in the safety of the Emerald Isle, away from ye roughnecks.
      Hope all is good with you,

  • Conor,
    How could you tease us with that luscious looking cornbread, and not share the recipe.

    As a “good” Southern Boy I have to say, cornbread makes the chili experience whole.

    Serious. it all looks good, but the bread has me seriously hungry now.

    At least tell us if yours is sweet/moist, or full of “corny” goodness and dry.

    Glenn (An American in Dublin)

    • Thanks Glen. If you are in Dublin, you should come around for a chili some Sunday evening (family dinner and guests always welcome). My eldest’s boyfriend has just restocked our chili stocks so we will have plenty more going on over the long winter months. I have made the corn bread a few times now. The original recipe I used is here: http://wp.me/p1NUXa-15Y. Though, I have since reduced the amount of sugar by about half. I like it less sweet.

  • Even though I was born in Texas, I don’t fit the idea of being a Texan…I’m little and I’ve been known to put beans in my chili. Perhaps that is because I have Irish blood pulsing through my veins. 😀

    • I now have a picture of you wearing a ten gallon hat Karen. Throw it away and replace it with the flat cap and the deprecatory manner for which we are rightly famous.

      • Oh you should have seen me when I lived on my parents ranch. I did have a big hat and rode my own horse. 😀

        • I would love to see your avatar with the hat!

  • Guess what my Indonesian licking and eyes was satisfied just by looking at your chili pork Conor…
    it’s similiar with indonesian dish called masak habang, using a dried and smoked big red chili and also some fresh bird eye chilies,
    definitely vote YES for CHILIES!!!!

    • Hi Dedi,
      If I put the birds eyes in there, my darling mother (84) would probably object and not come around for her dinner as we love her to do. But, having said that, I too am voting YES for chilis!

  • Fantastic. I love that you toasted the cumin and made your own chili sauce. Love it!

    • Hi Connie,
      To not make your own sauce is to not make a chili, in my humble opinion. Though, you can see I am getting into trouble for adding the beans….

      • I love the beans. I often make chili without them but love the texture.

  • I have a friend who grew up in Texas, then moved to the east coast of the south. He swears off beans in chili, but I think he’s wrong as can be. Beans are the best part (next to the corn bread, I’ll take sweet and moist, with creamed corn baked in). Kidney beans are good, but I also like black beans and great northern beans. Cannelini are good in white chicken chili.

    • THANK YOU Amber,
      Great to have a friend when it comes to the chili wars of 2014. I like the idea of baking in the creamed corn. The black beans would also be new for me to try. Thank you Amigo!

  • Very nice, my friend. I love a good pot of chilli and this looks to tick the boxes.
    I was a little concerned about the nail polish until I read the caption PS. 🙂

  • What a great preparation with the blending method. 🙂

    • Thanks Shanna,
      I have done similar by drying the chilis out in the oven and then grinding them. The difficulty with that approach is all the chilli dust in the air, up my nose and in my eyes. This way gives a much richer result without all the pain.

  • Must try this. The chili blend is basically what is often served here as a chili sauce – but with onoions, tomato and lime added. By ‘here’ I mean here-here in Lodwar, and back home in Dar.

    • Then you understand the depth of flavours that one enjoys. It almost makes me wish for the winter so we can really enjoy the benefits of the warming chili. I should cook it for you in November, using some of my new chili collection that Jer brought.

      • FYI here-here in Lodwar is the sauce on the plate beside my spaghetti on fb yesterday. Any Somali joint can give a Texan a run for his money 😉 Had it again today with addition of peas. Superb.

        • I think we need help giving the Texans a run. They are pretty defensive about their chili, as you can see from the comments above!

  • What a great Southern meal. I love the reconstitution of the chilis. Go big!

    • Thanks Amanda. Is there any other way to go when it comes to chili?

  • Looks great, Conor, and I bet it was very tasty, too. As a fellow recipient of chiles I should know 🙂 I like the addition of tomatoes, which I have found is important to get a more ‘complete’ flavor profile.

    • Very true Stefan. Though, Lucy’s other half, Jer, presented me with two big bags of chilis. A winter of more complex, hot cooking beckons.

      • Sounds like he wants to be in the good graces of his future father-in-law 🙂 What kind of chiles are they?

        • Ancho and Red Morita. I am looking forward to trying them both. The Ancho are big and soft.

          • Those anchos are very interesting stuffed as a dessert. Don’t know Red Morita yet.

        • P.S. You don’t mention seeding the chiles. Did you blend them with the seeds?

  • Is that a Jamie Oliver mortar and pestle? Looks just like the one I have. I love this! Still cracking up over the chilis swelling like a texan ego…lol! I so want to try this recipe. Looks and sounds great!

    • Not Jamie Oliver. I got it in an outlet called Home Store and More. It was cheap and it seems indestructible. That wins out over any brand name.

      • Sure does! I only got this one because it was the only decent one in the store. Just thought I would ask since it is so similar.

  • ‘Pears you’ve come to the dark side, Connor. Next thing you know you’ll be using that Achiote paste and chile puree in bigger and grander ways. BTW The Achiote makes a fine shirt staining chicken marinade. Nicely done all in all! A great western attempt by all accounts. All that’s left is to come visit.

    • I would love to get over to visit your great state. I know I would (will) love it.

  • And goodness know being a bit more Irish could do our Texans (and thus all Americans) a bit of good. 😉

    • Michelle,
      You know that I would have to agree!

  • Ahhh dear Conor, “Bless your heart, you mean well.” (This is a US Southern euphemism, I’ll let you figure that one out.) Let me reinforce above comments (as a native Texan) that yes, Texans eschew beans in their chili. Next, chilli with two Ls is ludicrous! I can’t imagine where you picked that up from. Last, when referring to a stew or a mix of chile powders, it is spelled chili. When referring to the chile pepper itself, it is a chile. Clear as mud???
    p.s. (I’ve been transplanted to the Pacific Northwest for over 20 years now, but my roots run long and deep in Texas. But I will admit I put black beans and/or white beans in my chili now… as well as garbanzo beans or hominy… GASP!) Nonetheless, I am so proud of you cooking up some good Texas food. What next??? Please know that I am kidding you and jabbing you in the ribs. A fine post and glad you really liked the chili with kudos to Richard for sending you some proper chiles!

    • I love your Texan expat ways. You are out of the place for over 20 years and give me a hard time for not doing the chili the Texas (no bean way) and then admit you do it yourself!
      You are going to have to come down on one side or the other on this one.

  • Haha… not that I adhere to stereotypes but your descriptions of Irish vs Texan are hilarious! Either way, I adore chillies and this pork chili recipe looks delicious Conor. I like the recipe exchange that you and the other McGary participants have going… heaps of fun. Great post as always!

    • Thanks Laura,
      It was great fun and I am so happy to have Richard back posting his authentic Texas recipes again. I can see from his blog, that I have a lot to learn.

  • Great post, Conor. I can imagine you in snake skin boots and a ten gallon hat. 🙂 Baby Lady saw your post title and started giggling asking me “Did he really get snake skin boots?” Of course, you realize I actually have 8 or 9 pairs (I lost count) of dress boots and a couple pairs of work boots. Sadly, none of them are snake skin as they do not last long. You are better off with alligator belly, alligator head, and ostrich. These skins are much more durable and the alligator shines up like patent leather shoes. The alligator head is called “horn toed” boots because the tip of the boot has 2 points from the head of the alligator. I’ll leave the 10 gallon hat discussion for another day. 😉
    As for the chili, you now understand the debate over beans vs. no beans. It’s as serious as cajuns debating okra vs. no okra in gumbo. Personally, I prefer no beans; however, there are a lot of native Texans who put beans in their chili. Your approach to the chiles is very much like my wife’s family, as well as my best friend (another native Texan). You can also take the chiles and make them into a puree. Then coat the meat with the puree and let it sit overnight. It will add a considerable amount of favor to the meat. I also like that you enjoy using multiple chiles to provide greater depth of flavor and character to your chili. The problem, however, is we Texans like beer and drink lots of it. It makes no difference if it is good beer as we drink any beer but there’s no beer in your chili and YOU’RE IRISH!!!!

    • This looks super delicious!!!

      Richard, you should sell boxes of these amazing chilis to other international wannabe chili cooks!

    • Thanks for reminding me Richard. I would look pretty scary in that rig-out. Though it could be fun if we were going line dancing or having a fight in a bar with Steven Seagal (They are always Texans getting beaten up in his films. for some reason.). Perhaps I will have to add some Guinness to my chilis in future to make it a Tex Irish thing. It might even catch on. I am surprised nobody has given out to me for not including chocolate in the chili. Is that as commonplace as it seems to be?

  • That looks absolutely my type of meal !

    • Very tasty indeed Lea. Can you get the ingredients there in Malta?

      • Most of them certainly 🙂 not sure about the variety of chilli though…. But we are getting more variety, 25 % of the population is now non Maltese.. Hope all well with you !

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