This delicious chili requires minimal effort and can be made on the stove top or in a slow-cooker. It is spicy, rich and perfect for a cold winter night. Serve with extra jalapeños, avocados and diced white onions as well as a dollop of sour cream and Mexican cheese. This chili can be made a day ahead of time, refrigerated and reheated. It’s even better after all the flavors have had a chance to meld together. Also, remember: This is frontier food – it was originally cobbled together from whatever was laying around when high-end ingredients were scarce, so feel free to experiment and have fun. This recipe is a jumping off point to highlight the basics, where you go from here on your chili adventure is up to you!
Time: 2 hrs on stove top; 4 hrs slow-cooker on HIGH; 8 hrs slow-cooker on LOW
Cost: About $5 per plate
- 3 lbs beef chuck roast or stew meat, cut into 1 or 1.5 inch cubes
- Kosher salt and Pepper, to taste
- 8 oz bacon, diced into lardons
- 1 cup celery (about 4 stocks), diced
- 1 large white onion, diced
- 4-6 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 jalapeño peppers, diced
- 1 large green bell pepper, diced
- 1 6oz can Chipotle chilés in Adobo sauce, minced
- 1 TBSP Worcestershire sauce
- 3 TBSP flour
- 1 cup chicken broth ( or 1 14oz can if finishing on stove top)
- 1/2 cup coffee (liquid, not grounds… I used what was left in my cup from this morning)
- Optional (Beans and Tomatoes in chili are actually somewhat contentious. Read more about the debate here, but remember: Cooking is about experimentation, having fun, and doing what you want. So do as you will.
- 2 14oz cans red kidney beans
- 1 14oz can petite diced tomatoes
- 1/4 cup (or more) Masa Harina (instant cornflour – the key thing here being ‘instant’)
Add bacon lardons to a large sauté pan or dutch oven, and cook over high heat until crisp and most of the bacon fat has rendered, about 10 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and reserve.
Season beef cubes aggressively with kosher salt and pepper and cook in the bacon fat until nicely browned. Remove with a slotted spoon and reserve.
Drain off all the fat in the pan except 1-2 TBSP, reduce heat to medium. Carefully add celery and onion (take care that the pan is not too hot; you don’t want this stuff to burn!) and sauté until fragrant and onions are mostly translucent, 3-5 minutes. Add garlic and continue to sauté until fragrant, 1-2 more minutes. Add jalapeños, green bell pepper, Adobo chiles and Worcestershire sauce and cook another 3-5 minutes, stirring constantly, until peppers are soft.
Add 14oz can chicken broth, kidney beans and tomatoes (if using), and coffee. Stir in flour and mix everything well. Add bacon and browned beef. Liquid should be almost covering the contents of the pot but not quite. Stir once more to incorporate.
If finishing in the oven:
Preheat oven to 325°F. Bring chili to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Place chili into oven with lid on but slightly ajar (perhaps 1/4″ – 1/2″ gap) and cook until beef is tender, about 4 hours.
If finishing in a slow cooker:
Coat the inside of the slow cooker with cooking spray. Add all items to a slow cooker; cover completely and cook on LOW for 8 hours or HIGH for 4 hours until beef is tender and falling apart.
In the last 10-15 minutes of cooking, stir in 1/4 cup (more or less) of masa harina until desired texture is achieved. It should be thick and chunky, not watery soup. Any Texan will tell you this is the ONLY way to thicken your chili, but if you don’t have masa harina available a slurry of 1/4 cup cornstarch and 1/4 cup cold water will work just fine.
Serve with sliced avocado, diced onion, green onions, fresh minced cilantro, shredded cheddar cheese (or my favorite, finely grated Cotija cheese) and warm corn tortillas