Short Rib Chili

By • November 18, 2010 89 Comments

1,997 + Save

If you like it, save it!

Save and organize all of the stuff you love in one place.

Got it!

If you like something…

Click the heart, it's called favoriting. Favorite the stuff you like.

Got it!

Author Notes: We love a good pot of chili, and our kitchen has turned out dozens of variations over the years. My husband is partial to a meaty, Alton Brown-style version, while I tend to favor a chili with lots of beans and sometimes no meat at all. With the weather turning colder I decided to make chili my next project, and set out on a recent Sunday to come up with a version that would satisfy both of us. For the meat, I used boneless grass-fed beef short ribs, trimmed and cut into chunks. I made a puree of chiles and spices, added fire-roasted tomatoes and some rich dark beer, and let everything cook low and slow for the better part of the day. I added some crushed tortilla chips for texture and a hint of toasty corn flavor, and a hit of fresh lime juice at the end for brightness and balance. And after my pot of chili had cooked for the better part of the day, I cooled it down and let it sit overnight. We ate it on the following Monday with a bevy of garnishes, and I have to tell you, it was so worth the wait. - lastnightsdinnerlastnightsdinner

Food52 Review: WHO: Based out of Providence, RI and Boston, MA, lastnightsdinner is a farmer's market lover and food blogger.
WHAT: A chili that combines the traditional -- smoky and spicy dried chiles, boneless short ribs, roasted bell pepper -- with the innovative -- cocoa powder, stout beer, and tortilla chips.
HOW: After getting the basic components like parboiled beans and a thick chile puree ready, you simmer the chili for hours until the beef is fork tender.
WHY WE LOVE IT: This chili rewards your effort with a major flavor payoff. And your leftovers will taste even better the next day (if you have any, that is)!

Serves 6-8

for the chili

  • 1/2 pound dried small red beans
  • 2.5 cups water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 small onion, halved, unpeeled
  • 2 dried ancho chiles
  • 2 dried guajillo chiles
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 1 tablespoon whole coriander seeds
  • 1 tablespoon whole cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder (I used Valrhona)
  • 1 whole fire-roasted red bell pepper
  • Kosher or sea salt
  • 1.5 pounds boneless beef short ribs, trimmed
  • grapeseed or other neutral oil
  • 2 cups diced yellow onion
  • 2 large cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 1 tablespoon dried marjoram or Mexican oregano
  • 1 tablespoon double-concentrated tomato paste
  • 1 28 oz. can fire roasted tomatoes with juice, gently crushed
  • 1 cup chocolate stout (I used Brooklyn Brewery's Black Chocolate Stout)
  • 1/2 cup crushed tortilla chips
  • juice of one lime

to garnish:

  • grated sharp cheddar or jack cheese
  • sour cream
  • fresh cilantro leaves
  • quick pickled red onion
  • fresh or pickled jalapeno peppers
  • diced fresh avocado
  • thinly sliced radishes
  • tortilla chips or warm tortillas
  • your favorite hot pepper sauce
  1. Pick over the beans to remove any stones or debris, and place them in a large pot. Add the water, bay leaf and onion, cover the pot, and bring it to a boil. Let boil for 2 minutes, then turn off the heat and let the beans stand, undrained, for an hour. Discard the onion and bay leaf. (Note: the beans should be fairly tender at this point, though older beans may need more soaking time.)
  2. Put on a pair of latex gloves. (No, seriously. Trust me on this.) Using kitchen shears, snip off the stems of the dried peppers and shake out most of the seeds (unless you like a fierier chili, in which case leave in as many as you like). Toast the peppers in a dry skillet until they are fragrant and beginning to soften, then place them in a bowl and cover them with the 2 cups of boiling water. Let soak until they are very soft.
  3. Toast the coriander and cumin seeds in the same dry skillet until fragrant. Transfer to a mortar and pestle, add the coarse salt, and grind. Place the softened peppers with their soaking liquid in a blender, adding the ground coriander/cumin mixture, the cinnamon, the chipotle powder, the cocoa powder, and the roasted bell pepper. Puree until smooth and set aside.
  4. Cut the short ribs into bite-sized chunks, season well with salt, and set aside. Place a small amount of oil in a deep, heavy-bottomed pot and warm until shimmering. Brown the short rib pieces in batches, removing them to a plate or platter as you finish browning.
  5. Add the chopped onion and a pinch of salt and cook until translucent. Add the garlic and marjoram or Mexican oregano and cook until fragrant. Clear a space in the bottom of the pot, add the tomato paste, and cook for a minute until it gets a little caramelized before stirring it through the onion mixture.
  6. Return the short ribs to the pot with any juices that have accumulated on the plate or platter, then add the chile puree, the beans with their cooking liquid, and the fire-roasted tomatoes. Add the stout and stir to incorporate. Cover and simmer over low heat for at least 3-4 hours, until the beans and beef are fully tender (this is actually best if you cook it low and slow ahead of time, even one or two days in advance of when you’re actually going to serve it).
  7. Add the crushed tortilla chips about an hour before serving, stirring them in so they break down and thicken the chili (and add a lovely toasty corn flavor). Taste for salt and add a bit more if necessary, stir in the fresh lime juice off the heat, then serve with garnishes and plenty of cold beer.

More Great Recipes: Pickles|Ribs|Avocadoes|Beef & Veal|Entrees

💬 View Comments ()

Comments (89) Questions (5)


6 months ago Heather

I can see why this won. Once you use dried peppers in a chile (or enchilada sauce), everything else seems a thin imposter. This is rich, flavorful comfort in a bowl. Thank you for this will be treasured and repeated many times to come.


10 months ago LE BEC FIN

beejay, what a great informative post; love your comment about mole profiles. Did you mean to say Red Bliss POTATOES?


10 months ago beejay45

LOL! That's a good one. Yes, potatoes, although Red Bliss would be an excellent name for a tomato variety. ;) Thanks for catching that. LE BEC FIN!


10 months ago beejay45

Hope I'm not stepping on any toes, but to answer a couple questions in the comments...
alcohol -- alcohol is volatile and will all be "burned off" long before the chili is done, leaving only the flavor of the stout, so no worries about alcohol in the finished dish. If you don't keep alcohol in the house, I've seen Coke, Pepsi and even Dr. Pepper used in chili recipes -- different flavor profile, but hey.
hard beans -- old beans take much longer to cook and soften than fresher dried beans, if you don't know the age of your beans, that could be the problem. Also, note that lastnightsdinner said that the beans should be fairly soft after the initial boil and soak, so if they are still hard then, you might want to add more liquid and repeat the process before putting them into the chili.
Now, having said all that, pushy broad that I am, I have to say that this is an amazing dish. I usually go for a completely different flavor profile in my chili, and I don't like the mole side of things, thinking it tastes like mud, but there are enough brighteners in here to elevate that profile. This really pleased me and my roomie. The only change we made was to amp up the garlic by adding another several cloves, crushed, at the very end -- we love our garlic! Thanks for the great recipe, lnd, and very late congratulations on your win! ;)
Oh! And we sometimes serve chili over smooshed, leftover baked (Red Bliss) tomatoes, either plain or briefly pan fried -- that would pretty much be beanless chili, but it's amazing and gets rid of leftovers.


10 months ago DennisH

Fantastic- Followed to the T and can't wait to make again. Best chili i ever had.
Try crumbling some home made corn bread in instead of the chips. Awesome!


over 1 year ago Alexa

Hi, I just need to comment about the beans. I have made this 2x but put everything into the slow cooker after Step 5. The first time I did it the beans were not cooked after 4 hours. This time I doubled the recipe and the beans are not cooked after 5 hours and then an additional 2 hours (on low both times). So I think next time I am going to have to cook the beans first and then put them in. What I don't understand is that I frequently cook beans by themselves in the slow cooker and it takes 5 hours on low with no pre-soaking (and I followed this recipe - with the boiling and soaking for over an hour). So I can't understand why they won't cook with this fairly liquid-y chili in the same time frame. Anyway, it is delicious but I am stressed out with 14 people coming tonight. I don't want to overcook the meat but I need to get these beans softer.


over 1 year ago Douglas

I made w/o any stout nor tomatoes and it came out Absolut-Delish. I have a sensitivity to glutton and tomatoes so I either find substitutions or eliminate all together


over 1 year ago ThisOldChick

Thank you, Douglas! Did you use a liquid substitute for the stout (broth, etc.) or simply eliminate it?


over 1 year ago ThisOldChick

Recipe looks fabulous, but I can't consume alcohol. Can you recommend a liquid non-alcoholic substitute for the chocolate stout?


over 1 year ago Sherry Zaks

Let me add another to your mountain of compliments. Easily the best chili I've ever had. I topped it with pickled red onions & radishes, diced avocado, and cotija cheese.


over 1 year ago callen34

The list of ingredients calls for "trimmed" short ribs. Does that mean to trim off any fat? Or to trim the meat off the bone? Thanks.


over 1 year ago lastnightsdinner

Hi - sorry, I'm just seeing this now! I use boneless short ribs for this recipe, so by "trimmed" I just mean trimmed of any sinew or excessive amounts of fat.


over 1 year ago lighthouse6

This is sitting on my stove right now : ) And I too eat a bite every time I walk by - yum. I added about 10 dried hatch chili's along with the other dried chili's to make the paste. I roasted about 5 pablano and 1 large jalapeno with the bell pepper - these I chopped and added. It now has a very "chili" flavor but is not too hot - but very warm. Oh, I also cooked the beef sepratly (using bone in ribs) in the beer - chopped it and then dry pan fried it to help get rid of some of the fat (used beer and drippings). Edges are nice crispy and brown. Great recipe and I love using the short ribs!


almost 2 years ago MikeeLikesIt

This is by far my fav chili recipe! Has anyone used ground venison in this recipe? I'm going to try it this weekend.


almost 2 years ago J. P. Higgins

I just tried this tonight - it was possibly the best chili I've ever had. I added just a little pimentón with some flaky sea salt to give a little more spice on the high end. Really, really good - and very rich.


almost 2 years ago J. P. Higgins

I also cooked it for 5 hours in a clay pot which gives everything a little more depth.


almost 2 years ago procrastibaker

Dymnyno: Yikes! I'll bear that in mind going forward. Usually I cover the pot with cling film if I'm going to be leaving it out overnight, although I certainly skip that when I'm feeling lazy. Not so going forward, though! Thanks for the word to the wise.


almost 2 years ago dymnyno

I made a pot of short rib bolognaise for a dinner tomorrow for 30 people. I left the pot on the stove, turned off the heat and went to bed (last night). This morning when I stirred the pot, I noticed that it was kind of "fluffy". The taste was off too and I determined that it had fermented overnight. I threw out the whole pot and am starting over....ugh! Just a cautionary tale.


almost 2 years ago procrastibaker

This has been sitting on the stove since yesterday. I simmered for about five hours on very low heat, and have been waiting with tongue hanging out for dinner tonight. To give you some idea of how good it is, my boyfriend and I are keeping a spoon by the pot so that every time we walk by we can take another bite. Thank goodness it's a large enough batch that our preprandial sampling won't mean an empty pot by dinner time. Thanks for an amazing recipe! Well worth the time and effort.


almost 2 years ago lastnightsdinner

Thank you so much - I'm so glad you liked it!


over 3 years ago Ibdcaptn

I am entering this in our golf club's chile cook off this Friday. I'll let you know how I do.


over 3 years ago brianj

OK, I'd like to try. But the family won't go for beans in their chili. Any suggestions on changes to recipe if I leave out the beans? Add an extra 1/2 pound of beef? Anything else to balance the dish without beans?


almost 3 years ago Cathy Gordon

a little hominy might be interesting.


over 3 years ago loubaby

This was fabulous; my husband and I loved it....I am anxious to try all the other outstanding chilies I saved, but I made this one first out of the community picks(would have volunteered to make one and comment, but all the chilies were taken already) and it is really good...short ribs are so melt in your mouth tender and the flavors are fabulous....congratulations


over 3 years ago ENunn

Wow, wow, wow. Congrats!


over 3 years ago TasteFood

Congratulations LND! It's great to see you here again.