A Bowl of Red

It’s been a long time since I’ve made chili. The last batch was chili Colorado, and we ate that in bowls and as burritos. The SO likes to make ‘chili soup’; basically cans of veg and cans of chili cooked up in a pot. Today I tried my hand at Texas-style chili – ‘a bowl of red’. (OK, so chili Colorado is beef with chiles, and so is Texas chili. Nevertheless.)

I started by stemming and seeding 12 or 14 dried ancho chile pods, cutting them up, and running them through the spice grinder. This was followed by 15 or 16 dried guajillo chiles, stemmed and seeded, chopped up, and run through the spice grinder. The yield was about a half a cup of chile powder each, for a total of one cup. Actually, the guajillo chiles were kind of leathery so they weren’t quite a ‘powder’. Close enough.

Next, I cooked four rashers of bacon in a heavy, 2½ quart, stainless steel Tri-Ply pot. I removed the bacon and put about ⅓ of about 2½ pounds of beef, cut into one-inch cubes, into the grease and browned it well. I repeated with the other two portions of the beef, leaving the last portion in the pot. To this I added the cup of chili powders, a tablespoon of ground cumin, a tablespoon of kosher salt, two cups of water another ⅓ of the meat, four minced garlic cloves, one chopped yellow onion, the bacon that I minced after it had been cooked, the final ⅓ of the meat, and another six cups of water. I brought it to a boil, and then simmered for four or five hours.

I had some in a bowl with tortilla chips, and I made a burrito with cheese and sour cream. The SO had some in a bowl. I don’t know what she put in hers, but she did have the chips. I asked her if she liked it, and she said yes. I think the sauce could have been thicker, and I think it tasted a little bitter from the ancho chiles. It also could have been hotter, as I found it very mild.

Did you pick up any birth rights?

Huh. Apparently Word thinks ‘colorado’, a Spanish word for ‘red’, needs a capital ‘C’.


A cup of powdered chiles for 2,5 pounds of meat is a lot. I’m at more like 1/4 cup, maybe slightly more. That’s probably why it was a bit bitter.

That RED stuff!

  1. Next time sub out the water for beer.

  2. To solve the thickness problem, stir in crushed tortilla chips towards the end of the cooking. The masa will thicken things nicely.

  3. Needs a hab or three.

Alternative chile preparation to help with the leathery chiles: tear the chiles into pieces (3/4 inch or so) and soak them in hot water for 15 minutes. Then blend the shit out of them in a blender (keep the water with them) to make a nice thick chile sauce that you put in the mix.

Recommend trying serranos (fresh), chipotles (dried), and/or habaneros (either) for heat.

I came here to suggest exactly this. It’s easier, for me.

I usually throw them in an extremely hot skillet for 5-10 seconds per side before soaking, though.

I coat the meat in seasoned flour before frying. Helps with the consistency later.

I also roast some capsicums (peppers) in the oven then blend with a beer for sauce and flavour.

Also, you’re missing Coriander.

I use bacon sometimes, but I much prefer salt pork. Sometimes I brown it in the pot before adding the beef (whether ground or in chunks); sometimes I dump it in the pot with the beans as they boil (I normally use dried beans, rehydrated overnight).

I also make my own chili powder: paprika, dried oregano, basil, granulated garlic, cumin seed (ground and whole), and cayenne pepper. Tastes just like Carroll Shelby’s or Brown Bag.

I agree that something else needs to be added to the chile spice mix for heat. Anchos are great for fruitiness and depth, pasillas and guajillos for earthiness and a little bit of heat, but to really add sharpness, you need some arbol, cayenne, pequin, or even habs. (If you like a little smokiness, you can some chipotle/morita peppers, too.) Also, it helps to bloom your spices in hot oil before adding your liquid. Just make sure you have enough oil left in the pan after browning your beef, turn the heat to low or take it off the burner (you do not want to burn chile peppers), dump your spice mix into the oil, swirl it around for about 30 seconds to a minute until it’s fragrant, then proceed as usual.

And I’d say start at somewhere around two tablespoons chili powder (that includes any other spices in the mix, not just the powdered chiles) per pound of meat. If it’s not hot enough for you, I’d vary up the types of pepper being used rather than adding much more.

Are you using chuck?
Careful adding beer, too hoppy a beer will only add to the bitterness.

That’s closer to right… but a tad low. Probably more like 1/3-1/2 cup is more appropriate.

(I’m basing this on my dentist’s chili recipe, since he’s a 2-time Terlingua chili cookoff champ)

Either way, a full cup is way too high, especially if it’s just the chiles.

I used this recipe, which calls for ‘1 cup ground chile pods’. It didn’t say whether that’s a cup of chile pods before, or after grinding. I assumed the latter.

I haven’t used guajillo chiles before, and I didn’t see anything about how spicy they are. The SO does not like spice heat as much as I do, and I didn’t want to overdo it. I think it definitely needs some serranos in it. As it is, it tastes a lot like the Mexican version I’ve made before.

I assume the latter as well. Wow, that’s a lot.