There are few foods I enjoy more than a bowl of chili on a cold, winter day. I've made many different recipes through the years. The truth is, I've liked most of them. I often make a quick version that uses ground turkey.
Today I'm sharing a recipe with you that takes a bit more time, but is well worth it. Oh my goodness, this is delicious. It's made with steak instead of ground beef or turkey, involves some slow cooking in the oven, and results in meat that will melt in your mouth and a deep, rich flavor that makes this my favorite chili recipe ever.
It starts with a recipe from the Feb 2011 issue of Cooks Illustrated. (Sorry, but you can't access their recipe online without paying for an online subscription.) CI's chili recipe is pretty involved. They start with arbol and ancho whole dried chiles that are toasted, ground, and made into a paste. I made the recipe their long way first, and then made this version that simplifies the process a bit and results in chili that is, in my opinion, every bit as good. Bracken (aka Brackenthebox) and Rachel made the CI recipe last week, and described it as "off the chain" (that's a good thing). So, although this is a new recipe, it has been tested and enthusiastically approved in two of our family kitchens.
Here's my somewhat simplified version of the CI recipe. As a shortcut, I followed their suggestion of substituting a good quality chili powder for the whole chiles. The beer, cocoa powder, cornmeal, and molasses, combine with the other seasonings to create a rich, flavorful result.
Step-by-step photos for making Thick and Hearty Steak Chili.
Step 1. Assemble the Ingredients. Steak (I used top sirloin steak; CI recommends blade steak or a chuck-eye roast), dried or canned pinto beans, chili powder (make sure it's fresh and good-quality), cornmeal, cumin, oregano, cayenne, cocoa powder, chicken broth, onions, jalapenos, garlic, molasses, canned diced tomatoes, beer (I used Schlafly Pale Ale--a local St. Louis favorite of ours).
Step 2. If using dried beans (recommended over canned for taste, texture, and price), combine them in pan with 3 tablespoons salt and 4 quarts water and heat them to a boil on stovetop. Turn the heat off, cover the pot, and let the beans stand in the salty water for 1 hour. If using canned beans, pour them into a colander, and rinse and drain them.
Step 3. Cut off as much fat as possible from the steak, and cut it into 3/4" pieces.
Step 4. Put the garlic in a food processor and give it a whirl until completely chopped.
Step 5. Cut onions into chunks and add them to the food processor. Remove seeds and membrane from jalapenos (wear plastic gloves when handling the jalapenos), cut them into chunks, add them to onions and pulse until chopped.
NOTE: the garlic, onions, and jalapenos can also be chopped by hand.
Step 6. In an oven-safe Dutch oven, saute onion/jalapeno/garlic mixture until soft.
Step 7. Add chili powder, cornmeal, cumin, oregano, cayenne, and cocoa powder and stir. Let it cook a minute or two.
Step 8. Add the chicken broth, molasses, beans, and salt.
Step 9. Add the canned tomatoes. Stir everything together.
Step 10. Meanwhile, heat some oil in a skillet. Pat the meat dry and add half of it to the skillet.
Step 11. Cook the meat until it's browned on all sides.
Step 12. Add the beef to the Dutch oven. You'll have lots of browned bits left on the bottom of the skillet.
Step 13. Pour half of the bottle of beer into the skillet. It will be foamy at first.
Step 14. As the beer warms in the skillet, use the flat end of a spatula to scrape all of the browned bits off of the bottom of the pan. This will add rich flavor to the chili. Add the beer broth to the Dutch oven.
Repeat this same process with the remaining half of the steak and beer.
Step 15. Stir everything together, heat it through, and put the lid on.
Step 16. Transfer the pot to the oven and bake at 300 degrees for approx. 1-1/2 hours until steak and beans are tender.
The result is a delicious, rich chili.
It's definitely thick and hearty.
Dish it up and enjoy!
Add your favorite chili toppings, like chopped green or red onions, shredded cheese, sour cream, cilantro, jalapenos, Fritos, crumbled tortilla chips--whatever you like.
Chili is great party food. You can set up a chili bar with a variety of toppings for guests to add. It's an easy way to feed a crowd and always a good choice to serve at a Super Bowl party.
Make it a yummy day!
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