The Instant Pot should be a Texan cook’s best friend. So many Lone Star staples lend themselves well to either pressure or slow cooking: think queso, beans, taco fillings, and stews of all kinds. Chili is at the top of the Texas Instant Pot recipe list. A classic Bowl of Red translates beautifully to the Instant Pot, which cuts the traditionally hours-long process into a forty-minute pressure cook. The end result is a velvety slow burn that wouldn’t be out of place at Terlingua, ready in a fraction of the time.
There is a small hitch in the Texas/Instant Pot happily-ever-after story, however: the Instant Pot’s “Beans/Chili” setting. Bless the Instant Pot folks, they’re from Canada and don’t know any better. But down here, beans have no place in chili. Unfortunately, the “Beans/Chili” setting is not only an affront to Texan sensibilities, it’s also not the ideal setting for preparing Texan chili.
You see, “Beans” comes first on the label for a reason: the “Beans/Chili” setting is optimized to cook beans perfectly. Putting together a pot of black-eyed peas or borracho beans? Slap that “Beans/Chili” button. But for chili, you’re going rogue. Your goal is to turn dried chiles and beef into the glory that is Texas chili, no beans allowed. In order to do so, you will need to side-step the allure of simply pressing that button and use the manual settings.
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Other than that, Instant Pot Texas Chili is a breeze. As an added bonus, the Instant Pot doesn’t throw heat in the same way a long-simmering pot might, which renders chili and other slow-cooked recipes doable even in the hottest of Texas summers. I’d wager you could put this recipe in a chili cook-off and no one would be able to pick it out as the Instant Pot entry.
Oh, and one last word to the Instant Pot folks: You might reconsider pairing beans with chili in your settings. Folks around here tend to take such things pretty seriously—but they’re otherwise some of your biggest fans.
Instant Pot Texas Chili
Note: You can fry the chiles and sear the meat in the Instant Pot on the Sauté setting if you like, but it splatters quite a bit. In my experience, it wasn’t worth the mess and took longer. I recommend using a wide pan for these steps.
⅓ cup beef tallow, lard, bacon fat, or (if you must) vegetable oil
3 dried ancho chiles, stems and seeds removed
3 dried pasilla chiles, stems and seeds removed
2 cups very hot water
1 tablespoon salt, divided use
1 tablespoon ground black pepper, divided use
4 pounds beef, either chili-grind beef or beef chuck roast cut into bite-size pieces
1 cup stock (beef or chicken) or water
4 cloves garlic, peeled
1 small onion, peeled and quartered
1 15-ounce can unsalted crushed tomatoes
2 tablespoons sweet paprika
1 tablespoon cumin
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1-3 teaspoons cayenne (optional, for even spicier chili)
½ cup masa harina
Melt the tallow in a large pan over medium-high heat. Briefly fry the chiles until fragrant, about 10 seconds on each side. Remove the chiles to a blender (leaving the seasoned fat in the pan), cover with the very hot water, and let steep while you sear the meat. (Use a spoon or tongs to push the chiles down into the hot water if they’re not completely submerged.)
Season the beef with two teaspoons each salt and pepper. Sear the meat in the leftover chile oil over medium-high heat until well-browned, about 6 minutes total. (You may have to work in batches, depending on the size of your pan.) When all of the meat is browned, add it to the Instant Pot.
Add the stock to the pan and use a metal spatula or a wooden spoon to scrape the browned bits off the pan. Add this liquid to the Instant Pot.
Add the garlic and onion to the blender and blend until nearly smooth. Pour the chili paste into the Instant Pot, using a rubber spatula to get as much as you can out of the blender.
Add the crushed tomato, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon pepper, paprika, cumin, dried oregano, and cayenne (if using) to the Instant Pot. Seal the lid and run the high pressure setting for 40 minutes. Manually release the pressure.
Carefully open the Instant Pot and scoop out about a cup of the chili’s liquid into a heat-safe bowl. Whisk in the masa harina and add this mixture back into the Instant Pot. Stir to combine; the chili should thicken slightly.
Serve with whatever chili accompaniments you like best.