Cast Iron

Beef Chili with beans and beans

February  1, 2012
Author Notes

With all due respect to Chef Grant Achatz, I suspected halfway through making his chili recipe that he was trying to kill me with the amount of spice - or at least burn out my esophagus. My quick fix was to add a lot more beans and a little unsweetened cocoa to mellow it out. Further attempts refined the amount of chile and beans for a smoky-yet-bright, rich, definitely higher-in-fiber result that still carries enough heat to be respectable. I'm a midwesterner (like the chef himself), so this always gets eaten with elbow mac or ditalini and topped with cheese. —jillyp

  • Makes approx. 5 quarts
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 pounds ground chuck
  • 2 large onions, finely chopped
  • 2 large green bell peppers, finely chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons ground pure ancho chile powder
  • 2 tablespoons ground pure pasilla chile powder
  • 2 tablespoons ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons chopped thyme
  • 2 teaspoons chopped oregano
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 3 cups low-sodium beef broth
  • 1 large (1 lb., 13 oz.) can pinto beans
  • 1 large (1 lb., 13 oz.) can black beans
  • 1 14 oz. can diced tomatoes with the juices
  • 1-3 diced chipotle chiles in adobo, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • juice of 1 lime
In This Recipe
  1. In a large, heavy pot or a medium enameled cast-iron casserole, heat the oil. Add half of the ground beef and cook over high heat, breaking it up with a wooden spoon, until browned, about 5 minutes; transfer to a bowl with a slotted spoon. Brown the remaining ground beef. Return the first batch of browned beef to the pot.
  2. Add the onions and pepper to the pot and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic, chile powders, cumin, coriander, sugar, thyme, oregano, black pepper and cayenne and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Stir in the beef broth, pinto beans, tomatoes, chipotles, tomato sauce, tomato paste and the vinegar. Add the cocoa powder to taste. Simmer the chili over low heat for at least 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally. Add the lime juice.
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