Want a taste of international travel without leaving your kitchen? Why not make a traditional, red-hot chilli from Texas, a dish that has been firing up residents of the US state since the 1800s, if not before. 

What is it?

In Texas, this slow-simmered beef dish with its fiery chilli paste is known as a “bowl o’ red”. The more “alarms”, the hotter the chili – five is the maximum.

Ingredients (serves 4)

500g (1lb) beef mince 
1 tbs oil 
1 cup (250mL) passata 
2 cups (500mL) water 
½–2 tsp ground cayenne pepper (depending on how spicy you want it) 
1½ tsp salt 
1½ tsp cumin 
1½ tsp oregano 
1½ tsp paprika 
1 small onion, peeled and minced 
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced 
Grated Cheddar cheese and sour cream to serve

How to cook

Step 1: Brown the beef in the oil in a large saucepan over a medium to high heat.
Step 2: Add the passata and water and stir.
Step 3: Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a simmer.
Step 4: Simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Step 5: Serve with grated Cheddar cheese and sour cream.

The South Congress bridge in Austin, Texas is lit up and packed with people.
You'll find great chilli in cities throughout Texas, including its capital Austin © Ryan Martinez / Getty Images

Tasting notes

Texas chili is a hearty meat-and-chilli stew, distinguished from other types of chili by its lack of beans or tomatoes. Though you can sample it at nearly any greasy-spoon diner in the Lone Star State, attending a cook-off is undoubtedly the most authentic way to taste it. Buy yourself a raffle ticket, grab a spoon, and get ready for some heat. The best chilis will be thick and never greasy, with tender chunks of meat and a slow-smoked flavour. The type  of chilli used depends on the cook – popular bets are smoky guajillos; rich, dark pasillas; or singing-hot árbols. Cool your mouth down with a fat wedge of cornbread and a slug of Texas lager.

You might also like: 

Greek avgolemono
Chennai Chicken 65
Italian tagliatelle al ragu 

Have you recreated any of the dishes featured in this series so far? Share your pictures with us on Twitter and Instagram by tagging @lonelyplanet. For more great recipes, check out Lonely Planet’s book The World’s Best Spicy Food.

This was originally published in April 2020 and updated in September 2020. 

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This article was first published April 2020 and updated September 2020

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