Chili, cornbread, and snow outside. One of the many reasons when I was thinking about seasonality, that I chose to put beef in winter, was expressly for chili. There’s just something about eating a thick hearty stew when there’s snow and negative temperatures outside that just seems so right. However, if you have snow or not chili is a great dish to have in your arsenal. The question then is, beans or no beans, and how hot and spicy?
Over the years I have tried to make various types of chili. Most of them just didn’t hit that sweet spot for me. It’s the balance between thick, meaty, with deep complex flavor that makes me love this dish but yesterday I made a new recipe and boy did it deliver!
Before I get into the recipe let’s talk about chili. When I sit to write a food post I do a little digging online to read about a dish or ingredient. This gives me some clarity as to how to talk about the thing I am going to talk about. So when I googled “chili” you can imagine I had a ridiculous number of results. Thankfully in the first page was a opinion piece written for Slate about the history of chili and the link for the Wikipedia page for chili con carne was right there too.
What I didn’t know before making chili is that there is extreme controversy over beans. The more I read there is actually very adamant opinions that chili is a refined recipe that can only be done in a very particular way and should not be messed with. Then again for all that reading I also found more variations on chili than most dishes. So to clarify this is a meat chili that does have beans BUT they are cooked separately and added in at the end so if you don’t want beans in your chili this recipe can still be used. One more thing to confess is this recipe is not spicy at all. My husband and I have different tolerances and likes of spicy foods. For some unknown reason I forgot to buy the chili for this recipe so I had to use what was on hand. The result was amazing. Hear me out. Follow this recipe the first time you make it. Then figure out how much heat or spice you want and adjust accordingly. I will absolutely be making this recipe again and I will for sure be adding more chilies to it the next time. My opinion is any new chili recipe you are making you should back the chilies down by half. Then slowly work up to whatever point suits you and those you’re serving in the future. In my opinion there is nothing worse than putting all the work into chili only to have it uneatable because it’s too spicy. Cookbook authors have their own preference to heat and so do you. So this recipe has almost no heat so you can adjust to your preference. There’s no way for me to know who spicy you want it but I will indicate where to add the peppers in the recipe.
Now that we’re talking about my chili there’s a few things I need to share. The first of which is that your chili is only going to be as good as the ingredients you choose. The base for this chili is beef stock and red wine. This recipe comes from Heston Blumenthal at Home but I made a few alterations. I started with the beef stock I made yesterday. Store bought beef stock will work but it will dramatically change the outcome and the final flavor. If you need to buy beef stock I would look for places that make their own. Some co-ops and artisanal butchers will offer stocks. Boxed or canned stocks often have no meat or meat products in them at all so how they react with the rest of this recipe will be significant. Part of what allows this chili to get so thick and indulgent is the gelatin in the homemade stock. This acts as a natural thickener. So if you have the time start by making the beef stock. You won’t regret it!
Day 1: Make the Beef Stock and Pre-soak the Beans (if using)
In a bowl add:
- 500 grams water
- 50 grams of salt
Once the salt has dissolved add
- 150 grams Dried Kidney Beans
Let soak for at least 12 hours. Leave in the brine until ready to use.
Day 2: Make the Chili
Starting with cooking the Tomatoes and Beans, in Breville’s Fast Slow Pro:
- 500 grams of Tomatoes on the Vine, remove the vine but keep for use in the next step, and either halve or quarter the tomatoes depending on the size.
- 50 grams of Water
Set the Breville to PRESSURE/STOCK/HIGH 20 minutes.
Once it has come off pressure, open, and set to REDUCE 10 minutes. Then pour the contents into a bowl and add the tomato vines (They will impart a “fresh” tomato flavor) and steep until tomatoes are fully cooled.
Once the tomatoes are fully cooled remove the vines and drain the beans. Add both to the Fast Slow Pro and just enough water to make sure the beans are covered with liquid. Set to PRESSURE/BEANS/HIGH 20 minutes. Once done leave with the lid closed until ready to use.
Now it’s time to start on the chili!
In a large 6 quart saucepan, with a thin layer of oil, over medium high heat, brown your beef in small batches. You don’t want to do too much at once as it will stew rather than brown and sear. (For the stew meat, pat dry before searing.)
- 1 pound Ground Beef
- 1 pound Stew Meat
Remove the meat with a slotted spoon allowing the fat to stay in the pan. Place on a plate and set aside.
Once all the meat is done being seared add:
- 1 Large Yellow Onion, diced
- 2 Star Anise
Sauté until the onion is opaque and just starting to color. Then add:
- 200 grams of Carrots, diced
- 4 Cloves of Garlic
- 1 Green Chili, de-seeded and minced (This is where you can add whatever chilies you prefer and however much you want to use. My first time through this recipe I added 2 árbol chilies. In the future I am thinking of adding either an Anaheim chili or a jalapeño to increase the heat.)
Continue to sauté until the carrot is soft and beginning to caramelize. Next add:
- 2 tablespoons Tomato Paste (Nothing beats homemade tomato paste if you grow your own tomatoes and are left with so many you don’t know what to do with them tomato paste will use a lot and leave you with a ingredient that can be added to so many things to boost the flavor.)
Once everything is well coated and the tomato paste is fragrant add:
- 375 millimeters Malbec (This is an Argentina spicy red wine. It also works out well because the beef stock I make uses the other 375 millimeters so even if you are not a red wine fan you won’t have any waste if you make both the stock and the chili.)
Reduce the wine by about two-thirds. Basically until you can see the bottom of the pan as you occasionally stir. At this point it should look like a thick syrup and a dark rich burgundy color. At this point you will want to remove the star anise and discard.
Add in the seared beef, stir to coat well. Add in:
- 3-4 medium Tomatoes, diced
- 500 grams Beef Stock
Stir to fully incorporate all the ingredients together. Bring to a simmer and cover. Cook for 2 hours stirring half way through. Uncover, add the bean mixture, raise to boil, and reduce to your desired thickness. I reduced mine for about 30 minutes. Stirring occasionally. (Don’t stir too aggressively. You don’t want to break/mash the beans.)
Serve hot with Buttermilk Cornbread Jalapeño Muffins and top the chili with your favorite toppings like sharp cheddar, sour cream, roasted red peppers, or even none of these an simply enjoy!
If you notice, there are virtually no spices! The only thing to come out of my spice drawer was the star anise. However, this has to be the most complex and flavorful chili I have made. The flavors really come from the quality of the ingredient. From the stock, to the wine, even the homemade tomato paste all offer there own complexity. If you serve this to company I am sure people will make all sorts of guesses as to what your secret spice combination is but the real surprise is there is NONE!
So if you have the time and want to try a delicious and unique chili this one is sure to be a crowd pleaser!
(This recipe yielded 8 servings that were 9 ounces each.)