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Tri-Tip Chili

Chef Will Torres combines tender tri-tip with New Mexico chile powder, smoked paprika, pimento d'Espelette and chipotles in adobo to create this complex bowl of chili.

  • Total Time:
  • Servings: 4 to 6

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  • 1/2 pound dried pinto beans (1 1/4 cups), soaked overnight and drained
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 slices of thick-cut bacon (about 5 ounces), cut crosswise 1/3 inch thick
  • 2 pounds tri-tip or sirloin steak, cut into 1-inch cubes (see Note)
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1 medium red onion, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons chopped oregano
  • 2 teaspoons chopped thyme
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 3 tablespoons New Mexico chile powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon piment d’Espelette (optional)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 chipotles in adobo, chopped
  • One 28-ounce can crushed San Marzano tomatoes
  • 4 to 5 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth
  • Sour cream, shredded sharp cheddar cheese, thinly sliced scallions, chopped cilantro and focaccia or cooked quinoa, for serving


  1. In a large saucepan, cover the pinto beans with 1 inch of cold water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the beans are tender, 40 minutes to 1 hour. Replenish the water as necessary. Season the beans with salt.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large enameled cast-iron casserole, heat the olive oil. Add the bacon and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp, 7 to 8 minutes. Transfer the bacon to a plate.
  3. Season the meat with salt and pepper. Add half of the cubes to the casserole and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until browned all over, about 5 minutes; transfer to the plate. Brown the remaining meat.
  4. Return the first batch of meat and the bacon to the casserole. Add the onion and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes. Stir in the garlic, oregano, thyme, smoked paprika, chile powder, cumin, piment d'Espelette and bay leaf and cook, stirring, until very fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the tomato paste and chipotles and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and 4 cups of the stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to moderately low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the meat is tender, about 1 hour; add the remaining 1 cup of stock if the chili gets too thick. Drain the pinto beans and add them to the chili. Simmer for 10 minutes. Serve the chili with sour cream, cheese, scallions, cilantro and focaccia or quinoa.

Make Ahead

The chili can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.


Tri-tip steak, named for its triangular shape, is cut from the bottom sirloin. It is available at butcher shops and supermarkets.

Contributed By Published April 2014

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