I named this delightful concoction “Seriously Good Chili” for two reasons: one, it is seriously good. And two, because I adapted it from a far more labor-intensive chili recipe from Serious Eats. I was going to call it the “easier” version, but you’re still cooking beans from scratch (which is actually easy) and it still includes a ton of ingredients. It’s worth it: this chili is complex and full flavored, thanks to a range of ingredients including chocolate, anchovy paste, coffee, and New Mexico chiles, but it’s still kid friendly.
I made this for Christmas Eve, along with two other soups, and this was the hands-down winner! Here we go:
Seriously Good Chili
1 pound dried beans–I used pinto because I had them on hand, but kidney beans would also be great
5 whole New Mexico chiles, seeded and torn into rough 1-inch pieces
3 pounds ground beef (note: the next time I do this, I will coarsely grind the equivalent weight of chuck steak or tri tip instead–I like a little more texture)
1 quart low-sodium chicken broth (preferably homemade), divided
1 teaspoon anchovy paste
2 teaspoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 1/2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 tablespoon ground coffee
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder + 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large yellow onion, diced fine
1 jalapeño, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon dried oregano leaves
2 bay leaves
1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1/4 cup cider vinegar, plus more to taste
1/4 cup vodka or bourbon
1 tablespoon Buffalo-style hot sauce, such as Frank’s RedHot (or more to taste)
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
Place beans, 6 tablespoons kosher salt (or 3 tablespoons table salt), and water in large plastic container or bowl. Allow to soak at room temperature at least 8 hours, or overnight. (Alternatively, you can bring the beans, salt, and water to a boil. Let rest for one hour, and then proceed with the recipe.) Drain and rinse soaked beans.
Add dried chiles to large heavy-bottomed Dutch oven or stock pot and cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until slightly darkened with an intense, roasted aroma, 2 to 5 minutes.
Add 1 cup chicken broth, using a flat wooden spoon or stiff spatula to scrape browned bits off the bottom of pan. Reduce heat until chicken broth is at a bare simmer and cook until chiles have softened and liquid is reduced by half, 5 to 8 minutes. Transfer chiles and liquid to a blender, add anchovy paste, soy sauce, tomato paste, ground spices, coffee, cocoa powder, and vegetable oil, and blend at high speed, scraping down sides as necessary, until a completely smooth puree is formed, about 2 minutes. Set chile puree aside.
Heat 4 tablespoons vegetable oil in your Dutch oven or stock pot over medium heat until shimmering. Add onions and cook, stirring frequently, until softened but not browned, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the jalapeño, garlic, and oregano and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Add ground beef and cook until browned. Then add chile puree and cook, stirring frequently and scraping bottom of pot until chile mixture begins to fry and leaves a coating on bottom of pan, 2 to 4 minutes. Add chicken stock and bay leaves. Bring to a simmer, scraping the bottom of pan to loosen browned bits. Reduce heat to the lowest possible setting, add beans, and cook, with cover slightly ajar, until beans are almost tender, about 1 hour.
Add crushed tomatoes and cider vinegar and cook with cover slightly ajar until beans are fully tender and broth is rich and lightly thickened, 2 to 3 1/2 hours longer, adding water if necessary to keep beans and meat mostly submerged.
Remove and discard bay leaves. Add vodka (or bourbon), hot sauce, and brown sugar, and stir to combine. Season to taste with kosher salt, ground black pepper, and additional vinegar.
Serve immediately, or for best flavor, allow to cool and refrigerate overnight, or up to 1 week in sealed container. Serve with garnishes: shredded cheese, sour cream, cilantro, chopped green onions, sliced avocados, lime slices–whatever you like!
I’d just like to add that I loved having a soup party for Christmas Eve–sooouuup party! And the leftovers were divine. Do you have any go-to soup recipes to share? Post them below!