Short Rib Chili

November 18, 2010
Photo by James Ransom
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. - lastnightsdinner —lastnightsdinner

Test Kitchen Notes

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)! —Food52

  • Prep time 2 hours 10 minutes
  • Cook time 4 hours 25 minutes
  • Serves 6-8
  • for the chili
  • 1/2 pound dried small red beans
  • 2 1/2 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
  • 1 Kosher or sea salt
  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless beef short ribs, trimmed
  • 1 splash 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
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • to garnish:
  • 1 handful grated sharp cheddar or jack cheese
  • 1 teaspoon sour cream
  • 1 handful fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 handful quick pickled red onion
  • 1 handful fresh or pickled jalapeno peppers
  • 1 handful diced fresh avocado
  • 1 handful thinly sliced radishes
  • 1 handful tortilla chips or warm tortillas
  • 1 dash your favorite hot pepper sauce
In This Recipe
  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.

See Reviews

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Jan Swafford
    Jan Swafford
  • Edward
  • David Cannon
    David Cannon
  • Erin Argue
    Erin Argue
  • LeBec Fin
    LeBec Fin