Five-Alarm Chili

From Cook's Country | August/September 2012
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Why this recipe works:

As the name implies, five-alarm chili should be spicy enough to make you break a sweat, but it has to have rich, deep chile flavor as well. We used a combination of dried anchos, smoky chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, fresh jalapenos, and chili powder to create layers of flavor. Ground beef… read more

As the name implies, five-alarm chili should be spicy enough to make you break a sweat, but it has to have rich, deep chile flavor as well. We used a combination of dried anchos, smoky chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, fresh jalapenos, and chili powder to create layers of flavor. Ground beef adds bulk, and pureeing the chiles along with canned tomatoes and corn chips adds extra body and another layer of flavor. Mellowed with a bit of sugar, and enriched with creamy pinto beans, this chili is well balanced and spicy without being harsh.

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Five-Alarm Chili

Good chili doesn’t have to take a whole afternoon.

Watch the Video

Serves 8 to 10

Look for ancho chiles in the international aisle at the supermarket. Light-bodied American lagers, such as Budweiser, work best here. Serve chili with lime, sour cream, scallions, and cornbread.

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces dried ancho chiles (4 to 6 chiles), stemmed, seeded, and flesh torn into 1-inch pieces
  • 3 1/2 cups water
  • 1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 3/4 cup crushed corn tortilla chips
  • 1/4 cup canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce plus 2 teaspoons adobe sauce
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 pounds 85 percent lean ground beef
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 pounds onions, chopped fine
  • 2 jalapeño chiles, stemmed, seeds reserved, and minced
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups beer
  • 3 (15-ounce) cans pinto beans, rinsed

Instructions

  1. 1. Combine anchos and 1½ cups water in bowl and microwave until softened, about 3 minutes. Drain and discard liquid. Process anchos, tomatoes and their juice, remaining 2 cups water, tortilla chips, chipotle, and adobo sauce in blender until smooth, about 1 minute; set aside.

    2. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat until just smoking. Add beef, 1 teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper and cook, breaking up pieces with spoon, until all liquid has evaporated and meat begins to sizzle, 10 to 15 minutes. Drain in colander; set aside.

    3. Heat remaining 4 teaspoons oil in now-empty Dutch oven over medium-high heat until simmering. Add onions and jalapeños and seeds and cook until onions are lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic, cumin, chili powder, oregano, coriander, sugar, and cayenne and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Pour in beer and bring to simmer. Stir in beans, reserved ancho-tomato mixture, and reserved cooked beef and bring to simmer. Cover, reduce heat to low, and cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened, 50 to 60 minutes. Season with salt to taste. Serve.

Five Hits for Five Alarm

JALAPEÑO: Brings fresh vegetable flavor.

CHIPOTLE IN ADOBO: Instant shortcut to ­smokiness.

CHILI POWDER: Wouldn’t be chili without it.

CAYENNE: Adds raw heat.

ANCHO: Adds depth, complexity, and mild heat.

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