Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Seven Chile Chili

A chili recipe with coffee and beer. What?! Need I say more? Well, maybe just a word or two… The reason I chose this recipe is the boy. He will only eat chili with no tomatoes and no beans. What the…?!?! says I. Who's ever heard of such a thing? I grew up where tomatoes and kidney beans are requisite to calling a thing chili. Well apparently, in Texas that is not the case (not that the boy is from Texas). I found this recipe from The Homesick Texan ages ago after finding out about the boy's leanings and have had it tacked on the refrigerator door since. But it sat there and loomed because it calls for seven — count 'em — seven kinds of chiles. And yes, you could certainly opt out of that and make it with just one or two varieties, but where's the fun in that? 

At last I headed over to Tienda La Libertad — a fantastic Latin grocery on Liberty Street in Ann Arbor near Stadium Blvd — and was able to pick up all of the harder to find ingredients for this dish, except costeñas. I had such fun browsing up and down the aisles and had to stop myself from loading up a huge cartload of goodies. I know many of you may be in places where it is definitively not chili weather, but we just haven't gotten there yet. in Southeast Michigan. I decided one last round of belly-warming comfort foods was in order and this fit the bill.    

Seven-chile chili

via the Homesick Texan

6 anchos
2 pasilla
2 costeñas
2 guajillos
4 chiles de arbol
4 pieces of bacon
4 pounds of chuck roast, cut into 1/4 inch cubes
1 large onion diced
6 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 cup of brewed coffee
1 bottle of beer
2 cups of water
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp clove
1/2 tsp allspice
1 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp cayenne
1 tablespoon cumin
(For all spices, feel free to add more to taste throughout cooking if you like.)

2 chipotles in adobo
Salt to taste
1/4 cup masa harina
1/3 Mexican hot chocolate tablet, grated

Heat a dry, cast-iron skillet over medium heat, then add the dried chiles (anchos, pasillas, costenos, guajillos and chiles de arbol). Cook for a couple of minutes on each side. Turn off the heat and then add enough water to the skillet to cover the chiles, and let them soak for half an hour.

Meanwhile, in a large heavy pot, such as a Dutch oven, fry up your bacon over medium heat. When done, remove from pan to a paper towel-lined plate, leaving the bacon grease in the pot —it should be about 3 tablespoons. When cool enough to handle, crumble bacon and set aside. In the pot, cook your beef in the bacon grease on medium heat, a few minutes on each side until lightly browned. You will probably have to cook in two batches.

Remove the browned beef from the pot, and add your onions. Cook on medium 5 to 6 minutes until clear. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Put the beef back in the pot, and mix in the coffee, the beer, two cups of water, bacon crumbles and the dry spices. Turn the heat up to high.

Your soaking chiles should be soft by now. Drain them and discard the soaking water (it will be bitter) and place them in a blender along with the canned chipotle chiles and one cup of fresh water. Puree until nice and smooth and then add the chile puree to the chili pot.

When chili begins to boil, turn heat down to low and let simmer for five hours, stirring occasionally. Taste it once per hour, and if the flavors are too muted, feel free to add more of any of the spices. Also, it starts to get too dry, add more liquid (your choice!).

After five hours, take a Mexican hot chocolate disc, and finely grate 1/3 of it into the pot. Scoop out 1 cup of broth and add the masa harina. Mix it well and then reincorporate it back into the pot. Stir until chili is thickened.

Let the chili simmer for another half hour or so. When done, garnish with cheddar, onions and serve with tortillas, chips or rice.

Note: If you can't find all of these chiles, just use the more readily available anchos and chipotles. Use 6-8 anchos, following the same soaking and pureeing method, and two chipotles.


  1. This is the craziest recipe ever! Beer, coffee, peppers, bacon! Holy crap.

  2. I know! Don't forget the chocolate!!!