brisket chili

brisket chili

We’ve made a lot of chili recipes over the years from beef to turkey to tofu, and this is the one recipe that always ends up on top. We love the texture and flavor of using brisket as the base, which gives it more of a bite and substance. Several smoky components are used to enhance the flavor: dried chiles, a good-quality bacon, and chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, resulting in a definite smoky, not too spicy hot, chili. Hints of coffee, cinnamon, and chocolate all help to deepen its flavor too. You can serve this with any your favorite toppings but we love diced avocado for creaminess, shredded sharp cheddar for a bite, and a dollop of sour cream right on top for a bit of coolness.

  • 1 large dried ancho chile
  • 2 slices smoked bacon (we prefer North Country Smokehouse), diced
  • 2 pounds beef brisket, trimmed and cut into cubes (about 1-2 inches each)
  • 1 large red onion, diced
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 cup brewed coffee, cooled
  • 2 28-ounce cans whole tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped dark chocolate
  • 1 tablespoon chipotle chile in adobo sauce
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili power
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Tortilla chips, for serving
  1. Place dried chile in a bowl and add 1 cup boiling water. Soak chile for 1 hour.
  2. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  3. Place a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add bacon and cook until browned. Remove with a slotted spoon and return pan back to medium heat. Add brisket to bacon fat and cook until brisket is browned on all sides, about 10 minutes (do this in batches if necessary in order to not overcrowd pan). Transfer brisket to a bowl and set aside.  
  4. Remove chile from soaking liquid (reserve liquid). Remove and discard stem and chop chile. Set aside.
  5. Return pan back to medium heat. Add onion and cook until softened, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add garlic and cook for about 1 minute. Add tomato paste and cook for another 1 minute, toasting it slightly. Slowly add coffee and reserved soaking liquid (from chile) and deglaze pan, scraping up browned bits from bottom of pan. Add tomatoes (and their juices), chocolate, chipotle chile in adobo sauce, cayenne pepper, cumin, chili power, coriander, and cinnamon. Stir to combine. Add bacon, brisket, and chopped chile back to pot and bring to a boil. Remove from heat, cover and place in oven and cook until meat is tender, about 3 hours. Check every hour and give chili a stir to prevent it from sticking to bottom of pan. After about 2 1/2 hours, stir in a bit of water if chili is getting too thick, up to 1 cup if needed. Taste for flavor and adjust as desired. 
  6. Before serving, break up any larger cubes of brisket into smaller pieces (if necessary) so that you have a mix of larger and smaller pieces when ready to serve. Serve warm with desired toppings.

Serves 4-6.

cook’s note: If you’re not sure how spicy you like your chili, start with 1/2 of each of the spices above and gradually add in more to taste. 


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