Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Short rib chili

These days, the temperatures are slowly dropping, the nights get colder, the plants, out for the summer on the patio, have moved back to their winter location inside the house, and there are more and more evenings that call for hearty food: soup, stews and chilis. This is one of my favorite chilis that I have made several times since I first saw the recipe on one of Giada’s cooking shows, and I cannot believe I have not written it up and blogged about. This chili is not your everyday beans-beef-tomato chili but it is elegant, authentic Mexican and deeply rich in flavor with the addition of espresso powder and the base braising liquid made of a hefty amount of dried chiles. I also add a bit of cacao powder so that the chili has an even more pronounced mole character. As said, it impresses everyone. I had a friend over this weekend and served it for lunch, I typically eat about a cup, and he polished off the rest, peeking in my direction during his second helping “Do you still want some, or can I have the rest?”  Smirk.


This is my skinnied version with extra bell pepper and broccoli.


Short Rib Chili (based on a recipe by Giada di Laurentiis)

  • 1.5 pound meaty short ribs, with bone (basically one package, can be 2 larger short ribs, or 4 smaller ones), cut into individual ribs
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 dried New Mexico chiles, stemmed, seeded and cut into 1 inch pieces with scissors (*often found at cheap price at Walmart)
  • 2 large dried ancho chiles, stemmed, seeded and cut into 1 inch pieces with scissors (*often found at cheap price at Walmart)
  • 1/2 TB clarified butter or olive oil
  • 6 large cloves garlic, peeled and microplanned
  • 1 large red onion, peeled, and chopped
  • 1 TM freshly ground cumin
  • 1 TB dried Mexican oregano
  • 1 cup beef broth (preferably organic)
  • 2 TM brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup organic maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon instant espresso coffee
  • 1 TB cacao powder
  • One 15 to 16-ounce can low sodium black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 1/2 cup of frozen sweet corn (Trader Joes has a variety that is picked a the peak of the harvest, and very sweet)
  • Adobo sauce, from can of chipotle chiles, optional
  • Chopped green onions
  • Garnishes, such as sour cream and green onions and shredded cheese.


Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Arrange the short ribs on plate, pat dry with paper towel and sprinkle with some salt and pepper. 

Bring the New Mexico chiles, ancho chiles and 1 1/2 cups water to a simmer in a medium saucepan over high heat. Cover, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the chiles are just tender, 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a blender (best: Vitamix!!!). Cool the mix in an ice bath for 15 min. Holding the top on firmly with a dish towel, blend until the chile puree is smooth. (Note, wait until it is colder or it will explode because of the steam).

Heat the ghee/oil in a large flat cast iron pot (best a dutch oven with a firmly closing lid) over medium-high heat. Add the short ribs and brown on all sides, 4 minutes per side, and transfer the short ribs to plate (I typically can do the ribs in one batch, if they don’t fit, make in 2 batches). 

Add the garlic and red onions to the drippings in the pot. Saute until the onions soften, about 5 minutes. Mix in the cumin and oregano.  Use the broth to deglaze the pan since the onions and garlic will stick to the pan bottom. Now, add the chile puree from the blender, the rest of the broth, brown sugar, maple syrup, espresso powder and cacao; stir to blend. Return the short ribs  and stir to coat. Bring to a simmer. Cover and place the pot in the oven. Braise until the ribs are very tender, minimum 2 hours 30 minutes (see picture above).

Remove pot from oven, and move the ribs to a plate. Spoon off and discard any fat that has risen to the surface. At this point, you can cool the chili mix and the meat, and prepare the rest once the meat is cold and easier to handle. The next step is to cut the rib meat into small 1/2 or 1/4 inch size cubes. To do so, carefully cut the membrane off each piece of meat (try to cut away only the membrane and not any meat). Discard the membranes and all bones. Cut the meat into small (scant 1/2-inch) cubes. Return the meat to the sauce in the pot. Mix in the black beans and the corn. Season the chili with about 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. If desired, add the adobo sauce by teaspoonfuls to increase the spiciness. Transfer the chili to a large bowl. Serve with green onions, sour cream and shredded cheddar and crusty baguette.


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