In our household of just two people, a whole brisket is like the Energizer Bunny—it keeps going and going! I recently wanted to use some leftover brisket to make chili and did it with the help of a packaged chili mix. Let me tell you what I did, and how you can make it using spices from your own pantry.
Chili From A Box
For years I’ve used Carroll Shelby’s Original Texas Brand Chili Kit to make chili. It’s available at most supermarkets and sells for about $2 per box. It contains pre-measured packets of chili powder, cayenne pepper, salt, and masa (finely ground corn flour). You also need 2 pounds of ground beef, an 8 ounce can of tomato sauce, and 16 ounces of water.
Preparation is simple: Brown the ground beef in a large skillet and drain the fat. Add the tomato sauce, water, and chili powder. The salt is optional; I add the entire packet. The cayenne pepper is also optional; I add about half of the packet and it makes the chili plenty hot for my taste. Stir it all together, cover and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. At the end of simmering, if you want thicker chili, mix the masa packet with 1/3 cup water, stir it into the chili, and simmer for another 5 minutes. The result is an easy, decent chili that you can enjoy as-is or use as a base from which to customize any way you want.
I modified this chili by substituting leftover brisket for half of the ground beef. I browned and drained 1 pound of 80/20 ground beef and used a kitchen scale to weigh the cooked meat: 12 ounces. I weighed out 12 ounces of brisket flat, chopped it, added it to the skillet, and proceeded with the rest of the instructions as described above.
The result was a delicious chili that was enhanced by the smokiness and richness of the brisket. One area that could be improved next time is the texture of the brisket. I would have liked a few chunks of brisket in the chili, so next time I’ll try small chunks instead of chopped meat and see how that turns out. I’ve also seen brisket chili recipes that use chunks of slightly undercooked brisket flat, so that the meat holds up and doesn’t fall apart completely during the simmering process. And of course, I may try using all brisket someday…another idea for another day.
Chili From Your Spice Pantry
If you’ve got a well-stocked pantry of spices, including a good quality chili powder, you can easily make this chili without a box mix. I took the time to measure the contents of each packet in the Carroll Shelby kit…here’s what you need.
- 11 Tablespoons (1/2 cup + 3 Tablespoons) chili powder
- 1-1/2 teaspoons table salt (optional)
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional; very hot, use less to taste)
- 4 Tablespoons masa flour (optional)
- 8 oz can tomato sauce
- 16 oz water
- 1 pound ground beef + 12 ounces chopped leftover brisket
There are all sorts of good chili powders out there. Penzeys Spices makes some very good ones in regular, medium, and hot varieties. Spice Island is said to be your best supermarket brand of chili powder.
Brown the ground beef in a large skillet and drain the fat. Add brisket, tomato sauce, water, and chili powder. The salt and cayenne are optional. Stir together, cover and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. At the end of simmering, if you want thicker chili, mix the masa flour with 1/3 cup water, stir it into the chili, and simmer for another 5 minutes.