This Short Rib Chili Will Warm You Up from the Inside-Out

Justin Chapple makes the hearty meal on this week’s episode of Mad Genius.

Even though spring is officially, finally here, the warmer weather we wish would come with it hasn't set in yet. Food & Wine Culinary Director at Large Justin Chapple has the perfect solution for those chillier days — his recipe for Short Rib Chili.

"When it is chilly outside, we want to have chili inside," he says in this week's episode of Mad Genius. "This short rib chili with fresh jalapeños, smoky chipotles, and fruity ancho chile powder will warm you up from the inside out."

He pairs the hearty, meat-forward chili (no beans here!) with homemade pickled red onions, crumbled queso fresco, and bright cilantro leaves for a few finishing touches. The meal takes just over three hours to make, so it's a great weekend project. Best of all, it can be made up to three days ahead of time, so you can whip up a batch on a Sunday and start your week with a satisfying meal ready to stand in for dinner on a busy weeknight.

Read on for Justin's step-by-step method to make the chili at home, and follow along with the video above.

First: Cook the Beef

The star of this chili is the beef short ribs. You'll need boneless ones, trimmed and cut into one-inch cubes and seasoned with kosher salt and black pepper. To cook the short ribs, heat up canola oil in a large enameled Dutch oven and cook the meat until it's browned on all sides. It's important you cook the meat in batches and don't crowd the pot; that will result in meat that steams and turns gray, not brown. After you brown the meat, transfer the short ribs to a bowl or sheet pan with a slotted spoon and start on the other ingredients.

Start the Chili

After removing the meat from the pot, you'll notice browned bits leftover in the bottom. Leave those in, as they'll provide tons of flavor for your chili. Add the finely chopped red onion, jalapeños, and garlic to the Dutch oven, along with some more salt and pepper. As Justin explains, the salt will not only give the mixture flavor, but help the ingredients soften, too.

Once the onion has softened and lightly browned, add the tomato paste, ancho chile powder, finely chopped chipotle chiles in adobo, dried oregano, ground cumin, and ground coriander. Stir well to evenly coat the vegetables with the seasonings. Once the mixture is fragrant, add the dry red wine, scraping up the browned bits. Let it reduce slightly, and then pour in the can of crushed tomatoes and the chicken broth. Bring the mixture to a simmer and then add the main event — the short ribs, along with any juices accumulated in the bowl. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and let the chili simmer for two and a half to three hours, removing the lid during the final 30 minutes of cooking. The meat should be very tender. Season the chili one more time with salt and pepper before serving.

Pickle the Onions

While the chili simmers, make the pickled red onions. You only need five ingredients: thinly sliced red onion, distilled white vinegar, water, granulated sugar, and kosher salt. Start by adding the vinegar, water, sugar, and salt to a small saucepan and bringing the mixture to a boil over medium-high. Once the sugar has dissolved, you've got your onion brine. Place the onion slices in a heatproof bowl or jar and pour the hot vinegar mixture on top, pressing down on the onions with a spoon to make sure they're fully submerged. After briefly allowing them to cool at room temperature, cover the onions and let them pickle in the fridge for at least one hour (or up to three days).

Short Rib Chili with Pickled Red Onion
Photo by Victor Protasio / Food Styling by Tyna Hoang / Prop Styling by Christina Daley


Once the chili is done and your onions are pickled, grab some bowls and get ready to eat. Top the chili with drained pickled onions, crumbled queso fresco, and fresh cilantro before serving it. If you'd like, you can pair the meal with a light, earthy red wine such as Domaine Rolet Arbois Poulsard.

"Wow," Justin says after trying the chili. He continues, "the jalapeños, the smoky chipotles, the ancho chile powder. I mean it all comes together. It's super complex, it's super flavorful, and of course, those crunchy, vibrant red pickled onions are just taking it to the next level. This is so good!"

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