A Bowl of Red

By • April 25, 2011 • 132 Comments

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Author Notes: We entered our first chili cookoff years ago, and in our travels along the way we've not only tasted some amazing bowls of red, but met some amazing characters. Ormly Gumfudgin immediately comes to mind. Ormly was such a chili purist that he once physically attacked a Houston chef who put baked beans in his chili. The Texas Rangers came, and, according to reports, yelled at the chef.

I love everything about chili - its welcoming aroma, rich flavor, and soul-embracing warmth - but most of all, I love chili because it's meant to be shared with as many friends as possible!
wssmom

Food52 Review: Like barbecue or chocolate chip cookies, chili has inspired many a debate. Connoisseurs know that there are as many versions as there are cooks who make it, but not all chili is created equal. Wssmom's Bowl of Red gives other contenders a run for their money. It's rich and smooth, with a creeping heat from homemade chili paste -- by far the most labor intensive part of the recipe, and it's really not that much work. The addition of a little bittersweet chocolate evokes the suppleness of a good mole, and the delicate beef cubes virtually melt in your mouth. We love that you don't brown the onions or garlic, but just throw them in with the seared meat and the broth to mellow and soften. We highly recommend a spritz of lime juice and a dollop of sour cream to finish it off. - A&MA&M

Serves 6 hungry chiliheads

Chile Paste

  • 2 ounces dried chile pepper pods, mostly New Mexico with a couple Guajillos tossed in
  1. Wearing rubber gloves, stem and seed the chile pods and cover with near-boiling water. Let steep for 30 minutes, then pour off the water and puree the softened pods in a food processor until they form a paste. Pass through a sieve to remove skins and errant seeds. Set aside.

Chili

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons bacon fat
  • 3 pounds chuck (after trimming), neatly diced into 1/2 to 3/4-inch cubes (partially freeze the meat for easier dicing)
  • 1/2 pound ground pork
  • lots of freshly-ground pepper
  • 1 1/2 - 2 cups homemade beef or chicken broth
  • 1 gigantic sweet onion (about one pound), diced
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8-10 tablespoons premium commerical chili powder, such as Whole Foods or Gebhardt's
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin, toasted briefly
  • healthy pinch oregano
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 2 cups tomato sauce
  • 1/2-ounce square bittersweet chocolate
  • Chili paste
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • plenty of shredded cheddar, sour cream and lime wedges for serving
  1. First, pour yourself a shot of tequila and toast legendary chilihead Carroll Shelby, who founded the International Chili Society. Then, heat the bacon fat in a really big skillet, and working in batches, saute the beef and pork until no longer pink. Drain off the fat.
  2. Place the meat, along with several grinds of pepper, the onions and garlic, in your favorite chili pot and add 1 1/2 cups of the beef or chicken broth. Bring to a boil, lower to a simmer, and cover. Keep the lid on, and your hands off, for 90 minutes. In the meantime, read H. Allen Smith's brilliant article "Nobody Knows More About Chili Than I Do." (Here's a link: http://www.chilicookoff.com/history/history_started.asp)
  3. After 90 minutes, stir in the chili powder, cumin, oregano, salt, tomato sauce, chocolate and half the chile paste. Cover and cook for another half-hour or so. Chase away your guests, who will no doubt be hovering around, demanding to know when it's going to be ready.
  4. At this point, check for consistency. If it's too thin, scoop out the meat and reduce the sauce by bringing to a boil, and when you're happy with it, return the meat to the pot. Stir in the brown sugar. (If it's too thick, add some more of the broth.) Smack any guest who gets too close with a wooden spoon.
  5. Cook, uncovered, for 10 more minutes, and check for seasoning. You can add more salt, chili powder and cumin if you like, or more chile paste if you want to amp it up, or more brown sugar if you like it sweet and hot.
  6. When it looks as good as it smells, summon the troops and serve with a squeeze of lime and a dollop of sour cream. (But have some cheese on hand anyway for the die-hard cheddar lovers!)
Jump to Comments (132)

Comments (132) Questions (1)

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9 months ago Roger Dube

Just made a batch of this for the first time. Couldn't find dried 'New Mexico' peppers, used dried California's and added a fresh red chili, minced with the garlic. Also toasted cumin seed then blitzed it in my grinder...kitchen smelled amazing. Used my own garden tomato sauce so didn't need to add the brown sugar (I put it in my sauce). After the 'recipe allotted time' I tasted it.....WOWWWWWWW!!!!!!

Bowie_with_great_hair

about 1 year ago strozyk

Fantastic stuff. I made my own chile powder with freshly toasted chiles, because I don't have good access to any exceptional store bought stuff - that was so worth it. The chiles shine. Good lord this is tasty.

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almost 2 years ago ftm

Not that there's a shortage of good reviews, but... I just made this and, Sweet Mama Janisse it was good! So good I registered just to leave this note.

Made exactly as is except I subbed Sam Adams Octoberfest for the tequila and the article about chili.

Me

almost 2 years ago wssmom

Octoberfest is one of my favorite beers! Thanks for the kind words and sooo glad you liked it!

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about 2 years ago rochelle123

Followed the recipe and it turned out perfectly. I resisted putting beans in the chili even though I think it would taste great with beans. I love the directions but sadly I didn't start with the shot of tequila....maybe next time. There will definitely be a next time.

Me

almost 2 years ago wssmom

Delighted there will be a next time for you! Thanks!

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over 2 years ago jeanmarieok

This was delicious - we served it with tortillas and cornbread. I am not a sour cream fan, but a dab of sour cream and a squeeze of lime was really great on this. Great recipe, thanks for sharing!

Me

over 2 years ago wssmom

Thanks, Jeanmarie - the sour cream is a little citified, but it goes really well with the spices!

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over 2 years ago jeanmarieok

This was delicious - we served it with tortillas and cornbread. I am not a sour cream fan, but a dab of sour cream and a squeeze of lime was really great on this. Great recipe, thanks for sharing!

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over 2 years ago innoabrd

Weather is turning cold here in the Southern Hemisphere...time to make this again! Quite possibly my favorite recipe on food52...

Me

over 2 years ago wssmom

We indulge in it year round! Thanks!

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over 2 years ago innoabrd

How come when I logged on and saw there was a your best chili contest, this didn't win?! I'm so...disillusioned!

Me

over 2 years ago wssmom

Aw, thanks!

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over 2 years ago kwinke

I was just thinking the same thing. This one deserved it!

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over 2 years ago kwinke

I just made this...pretty much exactly as the recipe goes. I did sweat and soften the onions a bit on their own, but only because I really don't like crunchy onions. Maybe 2 hours in the pot wouldn't have mattered in the end.

End result was amazing. Probably one of the greatest chilies I've ever had. Beans don't belong anywhere near this chili.

Me

over 2 years ago wssmom

LOL the Spouse is such a chili purist you can't even say the word "beans" when he is cooking chili. And thanks so much for the compliment -- I am so glad you enjoyed it!

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over 2 years ago crystal heckel

cooked on crock pot for 24 hours and was absolutely delicious. reminded me of a restaurant in Albuquerque called Sadie's. I ate this there every week while I was pregnant. thanks for the post. I'm new on here but loving this site!

Me

over 2 years ago wssmom

I have never been to Albuquerque, but when I get there I am hoping Sadie's is still there!

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over 2 years ago crystal heckel

no offense about the beans to anyone...especially in NM this is served with tortillas and refriend beans and fried potatoes. the potatoes and sour relieve some of the heat because serve it really hot their. it is wonderful. now living in OH for 15 years I have so missed this. headed to the store for ingredients to make for dinner tomorrow!

Me

over 2 years ago wssmom

Mmmm tortillas and refried beans and fried potatoes sound yummy as accompaniments! Break out the beer!

White_chocolate_ginger_cookies

over 2 years ago ELCookie

My husband requested chili for his birthday dinner. So I made this with a couple changes. Did not have bacon fat, so I fried two pieces of bacon then used the fat and put the bacon pieces in with the meat when I began the cooking. Also could not find chile pepper pods here in CT but did find ground red chili pepper from New Mexico. So I measured 2 oz, added water and made a paste. Lastly, I added an extra can of tomato sauce. Served with cheese, sour cream, lime and guac. Delicious!

Me

over 2 years ago wssmom

I am so glad he liked it, EL! Great idea to make a paste with chili powder; living on Long Island, I know how hard it is to find chili pods!.

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over 2 years ago connoisseur

Bowl of Red just shot me dead. And well-fed. Just incred.

Me

over 2 years ago wssmom

And rhymes!!! Wow, thanks!

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almost 3 years ago EatArt

I followed most of the recipe exactly, including the tequila shot at the beginning. I added some chipotles, some black olives, and some red and black beans, and another tequila at the end. Really wonderful chili!

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almost 3 years ago innoabrd

Careful, I think in Texas they sometimes shoot people for adding beans to red.

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almost 3 years ago WileyP

So...what you ended up with was a bowl of seasoned beans, huh? innoabrd is right, EatArt - If you are going to put beans in your chili down here in New Mexico (unless you are in Santa Fake!), don't go buying any green bananas!

2007-09-11e-s4

almost 3 years ago WileyP

So, EatArt, what you ended up with was a nice bowl of seasoned beans, huh? (LOL!) innoabrd is not far from right - Down here in New Mexico, if you put beans in your "chili", don't go buying any green bananas! In these parts, "bean is beans" (even if there is some chili in 'em), and chili is chili...is chili! Chile + meat + seasonings = chili.

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almost 3 years ago connoisseur

Perfect amalgam of meatiness, spice, sweetness, tang.
An instant favorite. Can't wait to cook with my daughter!

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almost 3 years ago connoisseur

Perfect amalgam of meatiness, spice, sweetness, tang.
An instant favorite. Can't wait to cook with my daughter!

Me

almost 3 years ago wssmom

It is so much more fun to cook chili with someone!!

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almost 3 years ago Minnesotapix

I am planning to win our annual chili cook-off in a couple of weeks using this recipe. I have always been a fan of a good bowl of red, and this looks like it has everything needed to win. Just hoping I can find the New Mexico pepper pods and guajillos here in Minnesota! If not, I'll have to improvise.

Nog

almost 3 years ago Niknud

I DID win my chili cook-off with this recipe this week (although I did confess that the recipe wasn't mine)! And I must caveat it by saying that I added some beans to the mix to stretch it a bit because it needed to feed a whole crowd... Thanks, wssmom!

Me

almost 3 years ago wssmom

LOL Niknud, I promise I won't tell the Chili Police you added beans!

Nog

almost 3 years ago Niknud

Whew. I think a person could get shot in Texas for adding beans to chili.....thanks! :)

Me

almost 3 years ago wssmom

lol

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almost 3 years ago lizb

I made this chili last night and received rave reviews. My husband declares it the best chili he's ever had - he ate the (few) leftovers for breakfast. This chili is going into regular rotation for winter at our house!

Me

almost 3 years ago wssmom

Thanks so much Lizb! It is definitely getting to be chili season!

Me

almost 3 years ago wssmom

Thanks so much Lizb! It is definitely getting to be chili season!

Sausage2

about 3 years ago fiveandspice

Emily is a trusted source on Scandinavian Cuisine.

Yes!!!! Such a great recipe!

Me

about 3 years ago wssmom

I am so glad you like it!

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about 3 years ago sexyLAMBCHOPx

Saved! Love my chili w/o beans!

Me

about 3 years ago wssmom

A true chili connoisseur!!