How to Make Chili Properly and Correctly, As I Do

I love to make chili, and I want my chili to have beef in it.  Lots of beef.  I don’t want beans in my chili.  I try to appreciate that lots of people have always enjoyed their chili with beans, but that’s not my problem.  I want my chili to have lots of beef in it.  I don’t want my chili to have ground turkey in it, and I will never make white chili with chicken chunks in it.  I make my chili with beef.  Let me also be very specific about the sort of beef I use for my recipe.  I don’t want ground beef in my chili.  I want finely chopped chuck steak in my chili.  Not minced to a pulp, you understand, but finely chopped, until each piece is about the size and shape of a small band-aid, or about the length of the last joint of your thumb.  Can you tell that I love my chili?  Well, I do.  And I learned to love it most when I started using steak aged in my SteakAger.  At first I was cautious, and I only let my cuts of chuck age for about twenty days.  But after exchanging notes online with some other lovers of dry-aged beef, I went ahead and let one cut with some exceptionally beautiful marbling sit in the SteakAger for forty complete days!  The results were awe-inspiring.

The Elements of Chili Explained for the Layman

Chili is a kind of stew, and the beautiful thing about it is that the ground peppers that create the thick sauce meld so well with the flavor of beef.  A lot of chili lovers feel that their recipes should revolve around the spices and chili powder, but I have always thought that the heart of the dish is the meat.  For special occasions, I will create my own beef stock to use in the sauce, and boil down several good cuts of inexpensive beef hearts and oxtails, until I get a truly dark and earthy beef broth.  I will not use my SteakAger cuts for this, because although the beef flavor of the aged chuck will permeate the stock, the butteriness and tenderness of the mature meat is lost as it boils in water for a long time.  I add the aged and chopped cuts of chuck to my chili fairly late in the process, and I keep the heat low, so that the meat is cooked but tender, retaining its aged delicacy while sharing its deep beefy flavor with the thick chili sauce.  I also buy dried ancho peppers and grind my own chili powder.  You have to be careful with this step, because when that stuff gets in your eye, you’ll be weeping on the floor for a good half an hour.  Freshly ground ancho chili powder is also about twice as fiery as store bought powder, so cut you use accordingly.  Finally, I have no compunction about using cumin and paprika as the final thickeners in my chili sauce.  Some people call that blasphemy, I call it good thick chili. 

A Paragraph on the Proper and Perfect Preparation of the Peppers

As I mentioned before, I am not about making chili that causes pain in the mouth.  So many chili makers grind and pulverize so many different peppers these days, putting their guests through agony as the scotch bonnets and habañeros and what have you burn and choke their guests. I acknowledge that chili should be spicy.  But the beef is the heart of the dish.  When I took my forty-day aged steak out of my SteakAger and chopped it into my preferred style, the perfume of beef was everywhere, and the tenderness of the cuts brought a kind of rich, sweet creamlike thickness to the sauce that I have never seen duplicated before – it was just a spectacular result.  I immediately made my decision, and resolved that from that day forward I would make my chili with aged steak, prepared by my SteakAger.  I recommended that you do the same.  Allow me to bestow upon you the honor of sharing my beautiful chili recipe:


2 or 3 pounds Dry-Aged beef

16 ounces beer for marinade

1⁄2 cup vegetable oil

1 tablespoon cumin

1 onion, finely chopped

3 minced garlic cloves

1 tablespoons paprika

3 or 4 tablespoons ancho chili powder

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 jalapeño peppers, deseeded

1 tablespoons oregano, dry

1 bouillon cubes, chicken

32 ounces pinto beans, cleaned

Remove fat from beef and chop into thumb-size pieces.  Marinade for at least 3 hours.

In a hot skillet, brown the beef in oil.  Some folks prefer to chop onions and garlic and add them to the meat as it browns.

Purée jalapeños in 1 cup of water. In a large pot combine the browned meat, puréed jalapeños, and the marinade. Bring to boil.  The reduce heat, and simmer mixture for about 45 minutes.

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