Four-Chile Chili

Chili first made its appearance in the early 1800s as "chili con carne." It was billed as a favorite dish in Mexico, although it originated in the American Southwest and was reportedly loathed by Mexicans. Chili rose to great popularity in the 1930s, after World War I had made all-American foods stylish.


Slideshow: Great Comfort Food Recipes


  • Servings: 8

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  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 1/2 pounds ground sirloin or chuck
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large Spanish onion (1 1/2 pounds), coarsely chopped
  • 8 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 large jalapeño chiles, seeded and minced
  • 3 tablespoons ancho chile powder
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons sweet paprika
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • Two 28-ounce cans peeled Italian tomatoes, coarsely chopped and juices reserved
  • 3 cups chicken or beef stock or canned low-sodium broth
  • Two 19-ounce cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, seeded and minced
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • Pinch of cinnamon
  • Coarsely chopped cilantro, for serving
  • Sour cream, for serving

How to make this recipe

  1. Heat the olive oil in a enameled cast-iron casserole. Add half the ground beef in large chunks and season with salt and pepper. Cook over moderately high heat until brown on the bottom, about 4 minutes. Stir and cook until most of the pink is gone, about 3 minutes; keep the meat in large chunks. Transfer to a plate and repeat with the remaining meat.

  2. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the fat from the casserole. Add the onion, garlic and jalapeños and cook over moderately low heat, stirring often, until softened, about 6 minutes. Add the ancho powder and paprika and cook over low heat, stirring often, until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, until the paste is glossy and starts to brown, about 5 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and their juices, the chicken stock and the cooked beef and any accumulated juices. Bring to a simmer over moderately high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.

  3. Add the kidney beans, chipotles and oregano and simmer for 30 minutes longer. Season with salt, pepper and a large pinch of cinnamon. Remove from the heat and let stand for at least 20 minutes. Reheat before serving.

  4. Serve the chili in bowls, topped with a generous sprinkling of cilantro. Pass the sour cream at the table.

Make Ahead

The chili can be refrigerated for up to 4 days and frozen for up to 2 months.

Contributed By Photo © Andrew Purcell Published September 2000

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