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Simple Cooking: Beef Chuck Roast Chili

By Carrie Becker in Food on Oct 8, 2010 4:00PM

Last Saturday, when the wind was howling and blasting rain against our windows, we could think of nothing better than staying in and cooking a big pot of chili in our cast iron dutch oven. Until we met Ted Allen, current Food Network mega-star and former Chicago Magazine editor, and read his cookbook “The Food You Want to Eat”, we had thought of chili as a ground meat-driven recipe. Since then, we've always gone back to his Killer Chili recipe, longing for the way the chunks of beef chuck roast fall apart at first bite. And, when we have it on hand, we’ll add a few heavy dashes of local Co-op Sauce for another layer of flavor. We like to serve this chili on top of white rice and top it with both sharp cheddar cheese and creamy, melty colby jack. Feel free to serve as you wish - we assume if you are a Cincinnati-native it would be a natural to top noodles with this chili recipe.

Killer Chuck Roast Chili
Adapted from Ted Allen’s “The Food You Want to Eat” cookbook

3 pounds beef chuck roast
½ pound sliced bacon, cut crosswise into ½-inch pieces
1 medium onion, chopped
6 medium garlic cloves, chopped
2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and chopped
1 tablespoon chili pepper
1 tablespoon ground ancho chili powder
2 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon dried oregano
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
1 can (28 ounces) peeled, whole tomatoes (preferably san marzano), with juice
1 bottle (12 ounce) medium heft ale, or whatever you have on hand (we used Long Haul)
2 bay leaves
1 can red beans, drained and rinsed
1 can butter beans, drained and rinsed (you can swap for another can of red beans but we love these bit meaty, creamy beans)
2 tablespoons masa harina, cornflour or cornmeal (we had masa on hand)
Salt and pepper for seasoning throughout

Cut the beef into 1-inch cubes. Cut out any big hunks of fat. Its okay to keep a little bit of the fat behind, it makes the chili taste better. Put the cubes on a big plate, sprinkle with a heavy pinch of salt and few grinds of coarse pepper, set aside.

In a heavy large pot, cook the bacon over medium heat until the bacon is crisp but not overly browned. Use a large spoon to remove the fat and place into a bowl as you are cooking. Once the bacon is cooked, place into a separate bowl.

While the meat is browning, combine the chili powder, ancho chili powder, cumin, oregano, and allspice.

Spoon a tablespoon of the bacon fat into the pot and brown a third of the cubed meat. Remove the meat as it browns, adding more fat and more raw meat. Continue this process until all meat is browned and set aside.

Turn the heat down to low and add one more tablespoon of bacon fat to the pot. Add the chopped onion, cover and cook for about five minutes - stir every so often until the onions are near transparent. Add the garlic and jalapeños, cook for two more minutes - until soft.

When the onions, garlic and jalapeños are cooked, add the spices to the pot along with 2 tablespoon water. Cook for 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes and their juices. Use the back of your wooden spoon to smash the tomatoes into small pieces. Add all of the meat back in, including the bacon. Add the beer, bay leaves and 1 quart of water. Bring to a simmer and cook partially covered for two hours. The meat will become very tender. Stir in the beans, then the cornflour. Uncover and simmer for thirty more minutes or until the meat is very, very tender. This recipe tastes great made a day ahead. The extra day allows for the all the flavors to deepen.

Serve the chili on top of rice or short noodles (whatever you prefer). Top with shredded cheddar and colby jack cheese and sour cream. If you like a bit of contrast, squeeze some fresh lime and top with pickled jalapeños.