Recipe: Ultimate Beef Chili

Based on a recipe for "Our Favorite Chili" from January 2011 Cook's Illustrated (and from Cook's Illustrated Cookbook, 2011, page 97and prepared for dinner on Sunday, August 19, 2012

The original recipe was twice this size and claimed to serve 6-8. I expect to get 5 or so servings from halving the recipe.


Table salt & black pepper
4 ounces dried pinto beans
3 dried ancho chilis
1 dried árbol chili
1 ½ tablespoons cornmeal
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon cocoa powder
1 ¼ cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 medium onion
1 small jalapeño chili
1 ½ tablespoons vegetable oil
2 garlic cloves
7 ounces canned diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon molasses
2 pounds chuck roast
6 ounces mild-flavored lager


  1. In a large dutch oven, combine 1 ½ tablespoons table salt, 2 quarts water, and the beans.
  2. Bring to a boil then remove from the burner, cover, and let stand for one hour.
  3. Cut beef into ¾"  pieces, discarding the veins of hard fat that run through the roast, and set aside.
  4. Remove and discard the stem, seeds, and ribs from the ancho chiles. Tear them into 1" pieces and roast them in a skillet set over medium-high heat until they are fragrant, about 5 minutes, tossing as needed to prevent the chiles from sticking to the pan.
  5. Transfer the roasted chile pieces to the bowl of a food processor.
  6. Remove and discard the stem, seeds, and ribs from the árbol chile and add it to the food processor bowl.
  7. Add cornmeal, cumin, oregano, cocoa, and ¼ teaspoon salt to the food processor bowl and process until finely chopped, about 2 minutes. 
  8. With the processor running, slowly add ¼ cup broth to form a smooth paste, transferring it to a small bowl when done.
  9. Peel and coarsely chop the onion and add it to the food processor bowl and pulse until roughly chopped. 
  10. Add jalapeño and pulse to form a chunky salsa.
  11. Heat oven to 300° with a rack on lower-middle position.
  12. Heat 1 tablespoon vegetable owl in the large dutch oven on medium-high heat then add the onion mixture. Cook until the moisture has evaporated and the vegetables are softened.
  13. Add garlic and cook about 30 seconds until fragrant.
  14. Add chile paste, tomatoes, and molasses and stir to combine.
  15. Add remaining 1 cup broth and the pinto beans. 
  16. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to a simmer.
  17. In a large skillet over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon vegetable oil.
  18. Pat beef dry with paper towels, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and brown all sides of the beef in the skillet, about 10 minutes
  19. Add the beef to the dutch oven.
  20. Deglaze the skillet with beer being sure to scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan.
  21. Pour the lager into the dutch oven.
  22. Cover the pot and transfer it to the oven and cook until tender, 1½ - 2 hours.
  23. Let stand uncovered at room temperature for 10 minutes before serving.

    Cut beef into ¾" pieces, removing the veins of hard fat.
Bring dry pinto beans to a boil, then cover and let soak for an hour.
Remove stems, ribs, and seeds from dried chiles.
Toast the ancho chilis to bring out their flavor.
Process the chiles and other spices, making your own chile powder.
Add chicken broth to form a chile paste.
In food processor, chop onions and jalapeño making a  coarse salsa.
Brown the beef on all sides.

Deglaze the pan with a mild lager.

Combine the ingredients, cook in the oven until tender, and enjoy!

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