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October 08, 2011

Primal Texas Chili

By Worker Bee
147 Comments

All too often a bowl full of chili is an uninspired blend of ground meat and canned tomatoes overwhelmed by beans. Ask anyone who follows the Primal Blueprint and they’ll tell you that the beans are unnecessary, but ask any Texan and they’ll tell you that putting beans in chili is an absolute travesty. In Texas, a bowl full of beans has no right calling itself chili, even when ground meat is thrown in.

Texas chili doesn’t let anything get in the way of and distract from the two main ingredients, chunks of beef and chili powder. Hearty, heavily seasoned and ranging from a bit of heat to fiery-hot, this is the type of chili that’s so thick you almost need a fork to eat it. Outsiders say it resembles stew more than chili, but it’s doubtful that this squabble over terminology has ever stopped someone from finishing a bowl. Texas chili is simply too good to pass up.

Using a brand of chili powder you like makes a difference – the better the chili powder, the better the chili. In Texas chili, it’s the main seasoning and gives the dish its nickname, “Bowl of Red.” If you’re feeling ambitious, you can make your own chili powder by toasting dried chiles for a few minutes in a pan on the stove then grinding them into powder (a coffee grinder works well for this.) Buy a variety of chiles like New Mexico, guajillo, pasilla, ancho and arbol and then combine the powder of each until the flavor and heat is to your liking. Most types of chili powder also have a bit of cumin, paprika, dried garlic and dried oregano thrown in, and even more of each is added to Texas chili to give the dish it’s intense flavor.

If you’ve never had Texas chili before, start with the recipe below. You won’t be disappointed, although keep in mind it’s only one version of this great dish. Some, but not all, Texas chili recipes contain a tomato product. Some use water as liquid, others call for beef broth. A splash of vinegar isn’t unheard of and either is masa harina, a type of corn flour that thickens the chili but isn’t necessary at all for flavor.

Like many regional specialties, no two recipes for Texas chili are exactly the same and each one claims to be the “real” version. Whatever your opinion is about the exact blend of spices or addition of tomato, one thing is for sure – Texas chili is likely to convince you never to put ground meat (and definitely not beans) in your chili bowl again.

4 –6 servings

Ingredients:


  • 3 pounds chuck, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 tablespoons tallow, lard or olive oil
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • One 6-ounce can of tomato paste
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Optional: cayenne pepper to taste and Tabasco sauce, to serve on the side

Instructions:

Lightly season beef with salt. Heat animal fat or olive oil in a large pot over high heat. Working in 3 batches, brown beef, about 3 minutes per batch.

Transfer beef to a plate.

Turn heat to medium. Brown onions and garlic, about five minutes. Return the beef to the pot and stir in tomato paste.

Cook 10 minutes, stirring frequently, scraping bottom of pot. Add chili powder, oregano, paprika and cumin (and cayenne, if using).

Add 4 cups of water and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer partially covered, stirring occasionally, until meat is tender, about 2 hours.

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147 Comments on "Primal Texas Chili"

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PJ
PJ
4 years 11 months ago

As a Texan, I’d also like to add that we oftentimes mix up our meats in chili. For example, in my house, we usually throw in a couple pounds of chili grind, a pound of ground, some chunked beef, and the best thing ever…venison. The mixed textures of the meat are really yummy. We usually make a big batch and freeze it for later. So good. I can’t wait until it gets cold again. Yum!

Just Cindy :-D
Just Cindy :-D
4 years 6 months ago

Maybe you could send some of that up here to NY?! Lovin’ all the recipes and variations.

Grace
Grace
4 years 11 months ago

Yes! Texas Chili is the only way to go, and it’s naturally so Primal. However, I recommend fresh hot chilies in the chili (poblanos, jalapenos, serranos) to give it the extra kick that we Texans require. Also, I like to make a 3 meat chili with chorizo, finely diced sirloin and course ground beef (chili grind). Delicious!

Grace
Grace
4 years 11 months ago

Here’s one of my favorite chili recipes:

http://www.heb.com/recipecat/South-Texas-Three-Meat-Chili/1502812/700026

But I go for more and hotter peppers. The chorizo puts a nice layer of “grease” on it. Yum!

And I don’t mind tomatoes in my chili as long as it’s not obvious and in large chunks.

Todd
Todd
4 years 11 months ago

That is pretty close to my chili recipe. I live in Texas and was raised on it. Mine is a variant of my dad’s recipe. I do add cayenne pepper, plus I put a cinnamon stick and a jalapeno sliced in half in it. The cinnamon stick and jalapeno are removed after. I also recommend having a butcher give the meat a “chili grind”. The meat is able to absorb the flavors better that way.

shannon
shannon
4 years 11 months ago

Been making this about once a month in Texas, for years. I started with a recipe in Gourmet called Ding Dong Eight Alarm Chili. Supposedly it was based on an episode of the Cosby Show where Bill Cosby’s character makes chili.

Meagan
4 years 11 months ago

I am REALLY surprised to find 3 tablespoons chili powder. I’ve never made chili this way.

Kate
Kate
4 years 11 months ago

Nummy. I love my burnin’ hot Texas chili. Of course, I learned o make it with un-primal masa harina so it isn’t so stew like. I also sometimes add other vegetables, but cook them long enough that they dissolve.

Primal Toad
4 years 11 months ago

YUM YUM YUM!!

Bodhi K.
Bodhi K.
4 years 11 months ago

Looks fantastic. Been making the chili out of the PB Cookbook so this will be a nice change-up. I love the cold weather.

Diane
Diane
4 years 11 months ago
Love Texas style chili — we make it all day in a crock pot (after browning) and use different chunked meats, though pronghorn antelope is a favorite, along with elk. We use 3-5 pounds of meat, a little tomato paste (or fresh if it’s tomato season) and a LOT more chili powder and cumin. We get a lot of our chili powder at The Chili Shop in Santa Fe — thechilieshop.com — though they don’t have the selection of hot powders they have at the store. Still, this year they have both Dixon and Hatch Medium Hot and Mild powders,… Read more »
Jan
4 years 11 months ago

Timely – I just reposted my Texas-style chili recipe made primal Thursday: http://www.janssushibar.com/?p=12331

I have to agree with Grace; you really need to use some fresh chilies and peppers in it.

James Howell
James Howell
4 years 11 months ago

Texan born and raised.

Except for the tomato paste, this recipe closely matches the recipe I’ve used for almost 60 years.

I’m not a fan of chunks of meat. My preferred texture is meat run through a 1 inch plate, if one’s butcher has it; 3/4″ will suffice. It’s ground meat but still in large enough pieces to have good texture.

patrick
4 years 11 months ago

Not from Texas, so my perspective on chili is a little different. My chili gets made when I have a bunch of veggies about to go bad. Beets make an amazing addition to whatever animal you have in the freezer, as does broccoli, bok, and kale. Nut butter and a smidge of dark chocolate is a must.. Also, don’t forget the homemade sourkraut on top.

Karen P.
4 years 11 months ago

You’re not from around Texas, are you? 😉

Noah Paul
Noah Paul
4 years 10 months ago

I’m not sure he’s from this planet, dark chocolate and sauerkraut? Sounds more like Gullosh!

WJ Purifoy
WJ Purifoy
4 years 11 months ago

Hey Patrick,
Your chili sounds interesting, especially with the chocolate in it. How ’bout a basic recipe?

Dusty
Dusty
4 years 11 months ago

Bing that to Texas and we laugh at you…

jimmy
jimmy
4 years 9 months ago

everyone else laughs at Texans who can’t spell.

bbuddha
bbuddha
4 years 11 months ago

I’ll have to try this one. our usual recipe is fairly similar but with ground beef and a bottle of dark beer.

CRO-MAGNON
CRO-MAGNON
4 years 11 months ago

Great recipe, for a delicious twist, instead of 4 cups of water, add 2 cups of wine and 2 of water for a perfect beef bourguignon.

CRO-MAGNON
CRO-MAGNON
4 years 11 months ago

Red wine

oxide
oxide
4 years 11 months ago

Or if you don’t have wine handy but plain water is too tasteless, use half vegetable broth half water. I usually make my own veggie broth either from vegetable scraps (strong) or from celery + onions + herbs (milder).

MichaelA
MichaelA
4 years 5 months ago

I prefer wine in my glass, not in my food.

Chris
Chris
4 years 11 months ago

Looks absolutely delicious – I’ve made similar chillies before now and I definitely prefer the large chunks of meat to the more usual minced beef that we usually see here in the UK. One question though…what do you serve it with if you’re going to stay primal? My norm would be rice, which I suppose isn’t too bad, but I’d like something a bit more appropriate.

Misabi
Misabi
4 years 11 months ago

I cook chilli a couple of times a month and either eat it all week or freeze it in portions.

Usually I eat it with roast veggies, on sweet potato (cooked like a jacket spud),riced cauli, or sometimes rice 🙂

Jane
Jane
4 years 11 months ago

Cheese. Beyond that, I’ve never served chili with anything, really. It’s a one dish wonder.

oxide
oxide
4 years 11 months ago

Small serving of “allowed” carbs like quinoa and amaranth. Or just go straight to dessert: frozen berries with a little cream (or coconut milk) and vanilla extract.

scottindallas
scottindallas
4 years 11 months ago

Eat with grits, corn chips, tortillas and top with raw onion (minced) cilantro and cheese

James Pharaoh
James Pharaoh
4 years 10 months ago

I’ve started eating this chilli with big chunks of cucumber doused in lime juice. The acid of the lime goes well with the spicy chilli I think.

Milla
4 years 11 months ago

Ironically, I’ve always hated chili because the only variety available was an incomprehensible mixture of stuff, which included beans, which I have always hated. Blech. I was always, even in my carb fest days, wary of weird mixtures, and hateful of beans. But this is so primal! I’m sure it will make me love chili again! Can’t wait to make it…

Chris
4 years 11 months ago

I agree!

Never been a fan of beans.

Probably going to give this a shot tonight as I have a couple of nice thick steaks in the fridge waiting

Jeff
Jeff
4 years 11 months ago

One thing you might try is splitting the seasonings in half and adding the second half a little before serving. This helps the flavors in the finished chili.

I’m from Oklahoma so we are pretty good at chili also.

wm ridenour
wm ridenour
4 years 11 months ago
Agreed. Cooking blends the ingredients but it also reduces flavors. Holding some spices until the last half hour or so of cooking brightens up those flavors, while the long cooked spices integrate deep into the other ingredients. Excellent suggestion. Living in Texas, but grew up in Ky.–my mom made a great bowl of chili in an iron pot, using tomatoes and dark red kidney beans. I like Texas chili fine, but I love kidney beans–heresy or not down here, I’m the guy who has to eat the damned stuff, and I say bring on the beans! I like it with… Read more »
Nate
Nate
4 years 11 months ago
@wm, I’m from Texas but I have a Yankee mother from Indiana who made a similar chili with dark kidney beans. I agree it’s quite good. Since growing up with that I still enjoy beans in my chili, although the bean-less recipe Mark shares sounds delicious, too. The clove suggestion is interesting. Cinnamon is a good one, and it’s used in Cincinatti chili. I would love to try some combination of cinnamon, spices and chocolate (as Patrick suggested) in chili, similar to the flavors in Mexican mole. Chili is one of those dishes for which there are guidelines, but no… Read more »
Connie
Connie
4 years 11 months ago

If y’all put beans in your chili, y’all don’t know beans about chili!

wm ridenour
wm ridenour
4 years 11 months ago
Now, you see, this is the kind of Texas brainwashing I have to put up with all the time here in Dallas. Reminds me of the big debate between classical music fans and jazz fans years ago; in their minds you couldn’t appreciate both. In the 19th century in Germany you couldn’t like both Brahms and Wagner–If you liked one you had to hate the other. In North Carolina bbq has to be pork with vinegar, in Memphis it’s pork but the sauce HAS TO BE sweet. in Texas even mentioning pork can get you in trouble. Gawd! Where’s it… Read more »
Amanda
Amanda
4 years 4 months ago

I keep reading that strange saying, if you put beans in your chili, you don’t know beans about chili. That had to have come from someone who did not grow up with chili. As a Texan, I’m sure I’ve tried at least a dozen different chilis in my life. If you go to a restaurant and order chili, you’re going to get chili with beans. If it doesn’t have beans, it’s just a meat sauce for hot dogs and frito pies. Outside of the Terlingua chili cookoff, real Texans use beans and that’s what matters.

Velda
Velda
4 years 1 month ago

I’m from Texas and so is my mama. She always cooked a pot to pinto beans for the children and non-Texans to mix in with the chili to tone done the HOT. The only other thing on the table was a pan of cornbread and plenty of sweet tea.

Nick
Nick
4 years 11 months ago

I just made half a batch, adding some stewed tomatoes and a parmesan rind. Turned out FANTASTIC. Great recipe.

Nion
Nion
4 years 11 months ago

That’s pretty much how i make it. I put curry pwder in it sometimes though. (i know i know, but i’m not American so STFU lol)

Dusty
Dusty
4 years 11 months ago

You need to keep that to yourself…Oh no you cant, we can smell that nasty stuff…

Mark Ellis
4 years 11 months ago

Outstanding! I know it’s almost certainly a sacrilege, but I’ve got to try this recipe with a bunch of veggies added to the mix! (Or maybe it’s okay of I keep them on the side?)

Super Gaily Girl
4 years 11 months ago

Oh how I miss chilli… and curry… I had to go nightshade free a few years back. I don’t think a chilliless chilli is possible. Or indeed desirable?!

RobF
RobF
4 years 11 months ago

I have heard the term “chuck” before but what type of cut of beef is it? I have heard chuck roast but no idea what it is. I’m in Canada and I’ve never seen that cut in a store or at the butcher shop. Even a google search doesn’t help me out. Next weekend I’m asking the butcher at the market if she knows what it is. Although any help here would be appreciated.

Oscar
Oscar
4 years 11 months ago

It is “chuck roast” or “chuck pot roast”. I think that “shoulder pot roast” works well, too. Pick one of these charts and take it to your butcher:

http://www.virtualweberbullet.com/meatcharts.html

Misabi
Misabi
4 years 11 months ago
Hey Rob, To me what’s in the pics above looks like what’s I’ve seen sold as brisket and is what I use for my stews and chilli. I cook it in big chunks like that, sometimes I’ll leave it as is and others I’ll take the meat chunks out of the stew once their cooked the melt in your mouth texture, shred them with a couple of forks then put it all back into the sauce/gravy again and stir it all through. Your post got me wondering though, so I had a quick look and found this: Chuck = http://www.foodsubs.com/MeatBeefChuck.html… Read more »
Chris McClymont
Chris McClymont
4 years 11 months ago

Chuck is a subprimal cut near the shoulders.
So you can have chuck steak, chuck roast etc

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chuck_steak

Also known as braising steak in the UK

greg grok
greg grok
4 years 11 months ago

I thought this may help you but it says Canada and US use the same names. It will help Brits figure out what Chuck is:
http://www.clovegarden.com/ingred/ab_cowc.html

Ken
Ken
4 years 11 months ago

If it comes from the shoulder, you’re in business.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/a3/BeefCutChuck.svg

RobF
RobF
4 years 11 months ago

Thanks everyone. Looks like I’m bringing a picture to the butcher shop and asking for “meat from here please” (picture me pointing at picture of a delicious cow).

Noah Paul
Noah Paul
4 years 10 months ago

Chuck is a great cut of meat. It has more fat running through it and is a bit tough, so you can’t grill it unless you tenderize the crap out of it. However, the fat gives it flavor when you brown it in a pan, And it looses its toughness once you cook it for 2 hours but it won’t fall apart on you. I’m not from Texas, but you’all are making me hungry, pardon me while I run to the grocery store…

Galina L.
Galina L.
4 years 11 months ago

I think it is possible to make your chilly out of beef tong with beef heart for people who are confused what to do with organ meats.

Michael C
Michael C
4 years 11 months ago

My local Mexican market has a dish called “Guisada” in their hot-case most days. The word simply means “stew” and is pretty similar to chili but with tomatillos instead of tomatoes. The meat in it varies pretty dramatically from day to day and will often have tongue, or pork belly, or some other mysterious meat. I think it’s awesome no matter what’s in it.

scottindallas
scottindallas
4 years 11 months ago

The recipe pictured is NOT chili, but carne guisada. Mexicans don’t eat ground beef like gueros. They use pork cubes for puerco guisado, or cubed beef for carne guisado.

KiwiRed
KiwiRed
4 years 11 months ago

I have a batch with beef heart simmering at the moment.

Kyle
4 years 11 months ago

It may be sad the first thing I thought when I saw that first photo was “holy cross-contamination, Batman!” The restaurant days linger…

Anyway, nice to see a beanless chili – Can’t wait to try it.

Ivan
Ivan
4 years 11 months ago

“Holy cross-contamination” indeed… except its all going into a Dutch oven for two hours…

(Hey, I cooked my way through college; the only way to eat frugally!)

FYI for the foreigners – http://www.chili.org/terlingua.html – worth a visit, for myriad reasons.

Burn
4 years 11 months ago

this sounds PHENOMENAL!

Ellen
Ellen
4 years 11 months ago
Thank you, thank you, thank you! As an expatriate Texan who loves chili, I’m delighted to see one of my favorite blogs discussing the real thing. I don’t generally care for tomato in my chili — when I want acid I’ll squeeze a lime. Traditionally we used beer instead, and now that I’m pretty much gluten-free I might try something like Redbridge. Other useful additions: bacon, coffee and chocolate. Think I’m joking? check out Seven-Chile Chili, which I’ve made and found awesome: http://homesicktexan.blogspot.com/2009/02/more-precise-texas-chili-recipe.html . For a milder but still tasty standard Texas chili, try Old Buffalo Breath: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/354895 .
Jellerose
Jellerose
4 years 11 months ago

Oh man. Just made chili a week ago. Might have to do it again this week! I don’t think I’m tired of it yet and this has me craving it!

Alice
Alice
4 years 11 months ago

Too chunky.

Alice, 57 years of experience as a Texan.

WJ Purifoy
WJ Purifoy
4 years 11 months ago

Way too chunky.
Wanda, 61 years in Texas.

Grace
Grace
4 years 11 months ago

Agreed, 52 years in Texas (4th-generation Texan).

scottindallas
scottindallas
4 years 11 months ago

The recipe isn’t chile, but carne guisada. Chile (w/ ground beef) is disgusting to me, all fat, gristle and little texture; but that is Texas chili. Carne guisada or Guiso for short is killer, but it ain’t classic Tx red.

T Hut
T Hut
4 years 11 months ago

how can a big hunk of meat ever be too chunky?

pdjsw
pdjsw
4 years 11 months ago

Now that is REAL chili. Beans and veggies have no business in chili.

Christoffer(Paleo 2.0)
Christoffer(Paleo 2.0)
4 years 11 months ago

I usually skip the chilli powder and add 2-3 Habaneros, 1-4 Spanish peppers or what ever other chili peppers you get your hands on. If you put in the Habaneros at the start they wont make the chili to HOT, if you want it HOT HOT add them the last 30mins.

Lauri
Lauri
4 years 11 months ago

Try a tsp of smoked paprika – wow!

Michael C
Michael C
4 years 11 months ago

My recipe is pretty similar though I usually start out with 1/2-1 lb of bacon. Once that’s browned reserve most of the bacon fat and add it back a tablespoon at a time as you brown your batches of beef. Then throw the bacon in with the beef while it stews.

IanG
IanG
4 years 11 months ago

Yum – just made a batch of this to freeze up. I also used some cut up pork loin, chili from Cool Chili Company and some smoked paprika. I alos chucked in some dark chocolate which isn’t amazingly primal!

BenF
BenF
4 years 11 months ago

I like to add about 3 shots of 100% Agave tequila for an added taste infusion. Make sure you use a nice dark tequila to bring out the flavor once the alcohol is cooked out.

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[…] Recipe – Primal Texas Chili – Mark’s Daily […]

trackback
4 years 11 months ago

[…] Texas chili – This beef dish looks really delicious. […]

Nancy
Nancy
4 years 11 months ago

Check out the chile powders at http://www.nativeseeds.org
I like to use a mix of 1/3 Guajillo to 2/3 Hatch Red Mild for a savory but not too hot chili.

Gwen
Gwen
4 years 11 months ago

“Like many regional specialties, no two recipes for Texas chili are exactly the same and each one claims to be the “real” version.” Which is why, in Texas, we have Chili Cookoffs – three day events involving lots of partying around the chili pot – to determine which recipe is the “best.” It’s what’s for breakfast. Yeah, baby.

Anne
Anne
4 years 11 months ago

Made this recipe yesterday and will make it again. I think next time I will add some jalapenos. Time now to reheat some leftovers.
Yum.

Linda
Linda
4 years 11 months ago

I’m in the process of making this now. Pretty much completely as stated, but with beef and lamb and beef stock instead of water. Chili was some generic mix from Masterfoods so we’ll see how we go. I’ve never been a fan of any kind of legume so this recipe could have been written for me. Cooking it in the pressure cooker for 55 minutes. Hopefully it will turn out well!

Linda
Linda
4 years 11 months ago

It turned out well. Better than well. Fantastic!

Emily
4 years 11 months ago

Could you use beef cut for stew in this? Or would those be too tough to cook in the time alloted? I REALLY want to make this and beef for stew is what I have on hand. But I suppose a trip to the grocery wouldn’t be amiss. 🙂

Emily
4 years 11 months ago

Aaaannnd….I read too fast. Excellent to know I can make this this weekend!

Milla
4 years 11 months ago

I’d generally advise against stew cuts/casserole steak for anything, because its so stringy and hard you have to be a herbivorous dinosaur to chew through the stuff. I tried making a stew with some stew-cut steak, and despite the cooking time, still felt like chewing a slipper. grok on 🙂

scottindallas
scottindallas
4 years 11 months ago

Keep cooking it.

Bridget
Bridget
4 years 11 months ago

I made this last night and it was soooo delicious! The only thing I have to say about it is if you’re using a cast iron dutch oven like the picture shows, don’t put your stove on high heat, put it on medium-high. Those suckers get super hot super fast and you can either burn your dinner or set fire to your oild, as I found out. 🙂

Milla
4 years 11 months ago

Ah, so it was you that set off that fire alarm last night…grrr…;-)

I generally try to avoid cooking anything on high-heat; it can make liquids boil over, and also food gets cooked on the outside and stays raw inside. Bad experience with some crusty almond chicken…
Grok on!

scottindallas
scottindallas
4 years 11 months ago

Put a good burn/sear on that meat. High heat initially is good, but the long simmer needs to be at simmer temps.

Ny chili king
Ny chili king
4 years 11 months ago

Hey, why dont texan girls wear mini skirts while cooking chili?!?

Cuz their balls hang out.

cunno
cunno
4 years 11 months ago
There are SOOoo many good CHILI recipes and I make what I feel like. Texans seem to think that “Texas Style” is the ONLY chile. Wrong. Sometimes I feel like all meat (chili grind or little chunks.” Lately, since I started a diet, I made Turkey Chile with lots of cooked down celery, onions, carrots (little chunks) and Bells (red and green). I put a big handful of fresh green “hatch” (New Mexico Green Chili/fire roasted. Those narrow minded Texans just don’t know what they’re missing. It’s like a new Yorker never wanting to try Mexican Food. You’re loss, PAL.… Read more »
Douglas Fletcher
4 years 11 months ago

Yeah!

Sam
Sam
4 years 11 months ago

Just made this and it is simmering away. Smells awesome. Happiness in a pot! Thanks!

Ming Bucibei
Ming Bucibei
4 years 11 months ago

Chili is a trail food (stew/soup) using whatever meat was available (usually game shot on the trail) and whatever else veggies etc to extend it

Beans (dried) were / are the most common food carried on the trail and hence would be used in any chili on the trail (any true trail chili)!!

BTW i am from Texas and i make a very very popular chili in Texas

Ming Bucibei

Clint White
Clint White
4 years 11 months ago

Looks good. Here’s the one this Texan uses and you can pick which meats you use as “roadkill.” http://www.chilicookin.com/Recipes/Web/Roadkill.htm

Best recipe I’ve found!!

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