This post completes the series of recipe throwbacks frim 2014-ish when my friend Aubrie (of PDXFoodPhotos) and I were teaming up on shoots for the online publication Incomplete Magazine. Since then, the magazine has sold off, and I thought our recipes and photos were lost to the web. I found them in my computer’s archive recently and decided it’s time to re-post for all to enjoy. Every cook should have a chili in their arsenal. This beef chili with ancho & mole has a complex flavor and the ability to please any crowd you present it to. I hope you enjoy this recipe even though this week it’s hot in Portland, OR–if anything, stow it away for the first chills of autumn, which shall be here before we know it! Scroll to the bottom of the page if you’d like to see the other recipes that were part of this throwback.
Recipes with ingredients you have never used can be daunting, but in many cases it’s each ingredient that lends a new depth of flavor to the recipe, so cutting corners can detract from the final product. The idea of using corn masa for a thickening agent in today’s recipe is refreshing. I enjoy using Bob’s Red Mill’s Corn Masa, which can be found in some bulk sections of specialty grocery stores. Leftover masa can also be used in other capacities, like homemade tortillas, cornbread, or tamales. The mole paste may be subbed for a homemade version of mole if on hand. Otherwise, store-bought mole paste is most easily found in Mexican grocery stores or the “world food” aisle at most grocery stores.
I love that this recipe is gluten and dairy free (if the sour cream garnish is ignored). It makes for an amazing, crowd-pleasing recipe that transports and serves well and can be customized with the array of garnishing options. Conversely, chili is extremely hard to photograph, as the finished product can look a bit murky depending on the color of the mole paste. Professional photographer, Aubrie LeGault, did a spectacular job in rendering a traditional, stick-to-your-bones style of beef chili.
Beef Chili with Ancho & Mole
It’s the time of year where kitchens are filled with the aroma of slow cooking, hearty soups and stews. In our home, a chili is the prerequisite for an afternoon of football. While this recipe can be garnished for days, I also like to serve it with either a homemade cornbread (useful to use up the leftover corn masa) or some of our favorite corn chips and guacamole. The important lesson with this recipe is to watch your salt—add it in small amounts toward the end of the recipe and remember that the added broth will also lend some salt to the dish.
- 6 bacon slices, cooked, then crumbled
- 2 t salt, plus more to taste
- 2 t fresh pepper, plus more to taste
- 1 4-pound boneless chuck roast, trimmed, cut into 1/2- to 3/4-inch cubes
- 1 large white onion, diced (about 2 cups)
- 5-6 large garlic cloves, diced
- 3 ½ c beef broth, divided
- ¼ c ancho chile powder
- 1 T cumin (optional)
- ¼ c chili powder
- 2 T mole paste
- 2 t apple cider vinegar
- 1 ½ t dried oregano
- 1 to 2 T masa harina
- ¼ t cayenne pepper
- Pinto or black beans, drained and cooked
- White, red, or green onion, diced
- Cheese, grated (sharp cheddar, goat, or queso fresco)
- Pickled jalapeños, sliced
- Avocado, sliced
- Sour cream
- Tortilla chips
- Hot sauce
- 6.5 Q French oven
- Large spoon or spatula
- Cutting board
- Sharp vegetable knife
- Paper towel-lined plate
- Large bowl
- Sieve (optional – for cleaning beans)
- Grater (for cheese)
First, cook up the bacon in a large French oven, and remove to paper towel-lined plate to crisp and soak up excess grease. Meanwhile, rub beef cubes with salt and pepper and cook in the bacon grease in batches until evenly browned. Reserve meat alongside bacon and drippings in a separate bowl, and add garlic and onion to the French oven. Cook over medium heat until onion becomes translucent. Add ½ cup broth to the pot, and allow it to come to a boil, deglazing the pot as it heats. Return the meat mixture to the pot, and add the mole paste, vinegar, chili powders (ancho and regular), cumin, and oregano. Add to the pot 3 more cups of broth and boil. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer until the beef is tender. Feel free to add more broth to keep the chili from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Simmer 2 ½ hours. Add salt to taste.
Stir in the masa, and then switch between adding more masa (thickener) or broth (thinner) until desired thickness is reached. Cool the chili at least 30 minutes before serving. Garnish with cheese, onion, beans, jalapeños, sour cream, avocado or chips! Chili can be made up to 3 days in advance and keeps up to a week in the fridge.