Austin Dog

Austin Dog: Hill Country Chili with Corn Chips

Frito pies are a favorite treat in and around Austin. There’s something magical that happens as the crunchy corn chips soften under the hot chili and cheese.


Hill Country Beef Chili

  • 2 ounces dried red chiles, such as guajillo, New Mexico or pasilla
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Salt
  • 2 ½ cups water
  • 2 ½ pounds beef chuck, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • 2 tablespoons masa harina


Hill Country Beef Chili

Texans take chili seriously, and most insist that true chili should contain neither beans nor tomatoes. This version, adapted from “Lobel’s Meat Bible,” should make them very happy.

Makes about 6 cups

  1. Place the chiles in a deep cast-iron skillet over medium-low heat and toast, turning frequently, until fragrant and more pliable, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat. Transfer the chiles to a bowl, cover with hot water and place a plate on top to keep the chiles submerged. Soak until softened, about 45 minutes.
  2.  Drain the chiles then remove the stems and seeds. Place the chiles in the blender along with the cumin, black pepper, 1 tablespoon salt and ½ cup of the water. Purée the mixture until very smooth. Set aside.
  3. Heat 2 tablespoons of the vegetable oil in the skillet over medium-high heat. Season the beef lightly with salt and, working in batches, brown the beef, about 5 minutes per batch. Transfer to a bowl as browned.
  4. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the remaining 1 tablespoon vegetable oil. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. 
  5. Add the stock, the remaining 2 cups water and the masa harina, whisking together until smooth. Whisk in the reserved chile paste then add the reserved beef and any juices in the bowl and bring to a simmer over high heat. 
  6. Reduce the heat to low and cook, uncovered and stirring occasionally, until the meat is tender and the sauce has reduced and thickened, 2 to 2 ½ hours.

Hot Dogs

  1. Grill hot dogs as desired. 
  2. Arrange the hot dogs inside each toasted bun and top with a scattering of corn chips. 
  3. Ladle the chili over the chips and top with a sprinkling of cheese. Garnish with the chopped tomato, jalapeños and scallions.