blissful eats with Laurie Jesch-Kuseth: Texas Beef Chili with Poblanos and Beer

Good Morning Bliss readers!  It is wonderful to be back today.  It's been a busy week on my end-- both in the kitchen and on the computer.  I finally got around to launching my food blog a few days ago.  It's called "Relish it", and can be found here.  I'm so excited.  Stop by, and feel free to pass the word on to your friends.  I'll also continue to post recipes here on Bliss every Thursday as well.  It means more time in the kitchen and more calories for my husband, but it's going to be fun. 

Now to the food.  Since it's mid-March, I think we have time for one more hearty pot of chili before the Spring grilling season.  First, a quick story.  About 15 years ago my brother, then in college, invited us over for one of his specialties-- chili.  When we walked into his apartment, we both noticed a familiar, pleasant, though clearly out-of-place aroma.  My brother's expression gave it away.  He had made a mistake.  A huge mistake by the shamed/frustrated look on his face.  He sheepishly explained that while reaching for the chili powder, he accidently grabbed the cinnamon.  He didn't realize this until he had poured more than a little into the pot.  He was mortified.  He corrected as best he could, and while I wouldn't advocate pouring a quarter jar of cinnamon into chili, the batch ended up being...interesting.  


So what does this story have to do with today's recipe?  This is not your ordinary ground beef, beans, and chili-powder affair.  This one is different for several reasons, including-- you guessed it, cinnamon.  Texas chili is all about the beef, and here it is clearly the star of the show.  No tomatos, no beans (other than as a garnish).  I recommend a high-quality grass-fed variety, as well as the inclusion of beef stock.  Add to that the unique spice blend made up of cinnamon sticks, cloves, and bay leaves, and you get a complex, smoky, layered flavor that differs from the run-of-the-mill chili batch.  Even better, you get to add beer to the mix.  When I've made this, I tend to use either an amber or brown ale.  They'll add to the depth, without being so strong as to change the flavor entirely.  I like to garnish a bowl with fresh tomatos and beans.  While you can use canned beans, the firmness of cooked dry beans adds a nice contrast.  One last thing-- this dish is significantly better if you let it sit overnight.  The broth thickens and flavors really get a chance to meld.  

The Recipe: Texas Beef Chili with Poblanos and Beer

(Makes about 2 quarts)

3 Tablespoons olive oil; more as needed

2 large sweet onions, diced (about 4 cups)

2 large fresh poblano peppers (or green bell peppers), cored, seeded, and diced (about 1 1/2 cups)

5 cloves garlic, minced

Kosher salt

4 1/2 pound boneless beef chuck (preferably grass-fed), cut into 1-inch cubes

2 bay leaves

2 cinnamon sticks, 3-4 inches long

3 tablespoons New Mexico chile powder (or 2 tablespoons ancho chili powder)

1 tablespoon chipotle chile powder

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

12 oz bottle ale, such as Anchor Steam Liberty Ale, Summit Horizon Red Ale, or the like

1 1/2 quarts homemade or lower-salt organic beef broth

For the Garnish:

2 14-oz cans kidney beans, rinsed and drained (or use 1 1/3 cup dried kidney beans soaked and cooked until done)

1 medium red onion, chopped

3 medium tomatoes, chopped

1/3 cup chopped cilantro

1 avocado, cubed

sour cream


In a 12-inch skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil over medium-high heat.  Add the onions and saute until softened,translucent, and starting to brown, 8 to 10 minutes.  Add the poblanos, reduce the heat to medium, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the poblanos soften, another 8 to 10 minutes.  If the pan seems dry, add a little more olive oil.  Add the garlic and 1 teaspoon salt and saute for another 5 minutes.  Set aside.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in an 8-quart or larger Dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Sear the beef cube cubes until browned and crusty on two sides, working in batches to avoid crowding the pan.  Transfer beef to a bowl with a slotted spoon.  If pan gets dry, add more oil.

When all the beef is seared and set aside, add the onions and peppers to the pan, along with the bay leaves, cinnamon sticks, chile powders, cumin, and cloves and cook, stirring, until the spices coat the vegetables and are fragrant, 15 to 30 seconds.  Slowly add the beer while scraping the pan bottom with a wooden spoon to dissolve the coating of spices.  Simmer until the beer is reduced by half and the mixture has thickened slightly, 5 to 7 minutes.  Add the beef, along with any accumulated juices, and the beef broth.  Bring to a simmer and then reduce the heat to medium low.  Simmer, partially covered, for 3 hours, stirring occasionally.  Test a cube of meat -  you should be able to cut it with a spoon.  Discard the cinnamon sticks and bay leaves.

If not serving immediately, chill overnight.  The next day, skim any fat from the top, if necessary, before reheating.

To serve, heat the chili gently.  Using a slotted spoon, transfer about 2 cups of the beef cubes to a plate. Shred the meat with a fork and return it to the pot.  (The shredded meat will help create a thicker texture.) Taste  and add more salt if needed.  Heat the beans in the microwave, and serve with tomatoes, red onions, cilantro, avocado, sour cream and lime.  Enjoy!

Source: Fine Cooking Magazine

Hope you enjoy this dish and have a wonderful Saint Patrick's day!  See you next week!


You can find me on Twitter: @LaurieJKul

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