Spicier Chili con Carne

I made Chris Kimball’s Best Ground Beef Chili two months ago. While I loved the flavor, I was disappointed in its utter lack of heat. Today, I added a four types of peppers to help amp up the spiciness. While still too mild for my taste (my two sons cannot handle too much heat), I was nevertheless much happier with the overall results. Grinding our own chiles makes a huge difference in this recipe; elevating the recipe into a special meal. The ingredient list is very long; you will definitely need to make a special trip to the grocery store. Sometimes my supermarket runs out of Ancho (and Guajillo chiles), so I recommend buying them in advance. 4-1/2 stars; still needs more heat.

Original recipe needed to be spiced up

Original recipe needed to be spiced up

Also it is worth noting that the Ancho chiles in the recipe are used to make home-ground chili powder. When I first made this recipe two months ago, there was a discussion about why this recipe does not re-hydrate the chiles; the answer being that we are making chili powder; not chili paste.

In the past I have been unable to find Ancho chiles, which are dried poblanos and are very, very mild. I have substituted Guajillo chiles, which are a little hotter, and can also be hard to find.  In either case, I would recommend not exceeding 1 ounce, as Chris Kimball’s original recipe was a little too earthy. I’ve reduced the Anchos in today’s recipe from 6 down to 4.

Today I added the following additional ingredients:

  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 2 Jalapeno peppers

Rating: 4-1/2 stars.
Cost: $12. (not including garnishes).
How much work? Low/Medium.
How big of a mess? Medium.
Start time 3:00 PM. Ready at 6:15 PM.

Chris Kimball’s original recipe for is here. My descriptions of how I prepared it today are given below:

1/2-pound dried kidney beans (or 29-oz can)
1/2-pound dried pinto beans (or 29-oz can)
2 pounds 85% ground chuck.
2 tablespoons water
3/4-teaspoon baking soda
Salt and pepper
4 dried ancho chile (1 ounce)
1 ounce tortilla chip, crushed (1/4-cup)
2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon ground coriander
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 Tablespoon crushed red pepper.
2 medium onions, diced.
1 celery stalk, diced.
1 red bell pepper, diced.
2 Jalapeno chilies, chopped fine.
15-oz can tomato sauce
29-ounce can diced tomatoes
1-1/2 cups water (or chicken broth)
2 teaspoons sugar
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 Lime, cut into wedges
Coarsely chopped cilantro
Chopped red onion
Additional garnishes: diced avocado, sour cream, and shredded Monterey Jack or cheddar cheese, tortilla chips and/or steamed white rice.

  1. For best results, soak 1/2-pound of dried kidney beans and 1/2-pound of dried pinto beans overnight. Use 1-1/2 tablespoons salt for a 1/2-gallon of water.
  2. Set a rack to lower-middle of your oven and pre-heat to 275-degrees. In a medium-sized bowl, add beef, 2 tablespoons water, 1-1/2 teaspoons salt, and 3/4-teaspoon baking soda. Toss until thoroughly combined, and set aside for 20 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, remove the stems for the chiles and tear then into 1″-sized pieces. Set a Dutch oven set over medium-high burner; Add chiles and toast for 4 to 6 minutes until they become fragrant, stirring frequently. If the chiles begin to smoke, then reduce the burner. Allow to cool in the bowl of a food processor.
  4. Add tortilla chips, cumin, paprika, garlic powder, coriander, oregano, thyme, 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, 1 Tablespoon crushed red pepper, and 2 teaspoons pepper to bowl food processor. Process for 2 minutes until it becomes finely ground. Empty spices into a small bowl.
  5. Process the tomatoes with their juice in the food processor for 30 seconds until smooth.
    Dice your onion and peel your garlic.
  6. Add 1 tablespoon vegetable oil to the empty Dutch oven, set over medium-high burner. Add diced onion and 2 teaspoons salt; at cook for 6 to 10 minutes until have given off their water; stir occasionally. Press garlic directly into pot and cook for just 1 minutes.
  7. Add beef mixture from Step 1. Cook beef for 12 to 14 minutes; breaking up meat into 1/4″-pieces as it cooks. The beef should begin to brown and a fond should begin to form on the bottom of the Dutch oven. Add spice mixture from Step 3 and continue to cook and stir for 1 to 2 minutes; to bloom the spices.
  8. Add 1-1/2 cups water (or chicken broth), 2 teaspoons sugar, tomato puree, and pinto beans and their liquid. Bring up to a boil, and scrape the bottom of the pot to loosen any browned bits. Cover with lid, move to pre-heated  oven. Cook for 1-1/2 to 2 hours until the meat is tender and chili has slightly thickened. Stir occasionally to prevent the chili from sticking.
  9. Uncover chili and let it sit for 10-minutes. Meanwhile, prepare any of your garnishes.
    After 10 minutes stir to re-incorporate any fat that has risen to the top and add 2 tablespoons cider vinegar. Adjust seasoning with salt to taste.
  10. Serve, passing separately the lime wedges, cilantro, chopped onion and other garnishes; sour cream, cheddar cheese, guacamole or diced avocado, julienne-fried flour tortilla, or sliced scallions.
I used a mixture of pinto and kidney beans

I used a mixture of pinto and kidney beans

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