Mom’s best bowl of red recipe

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Chili con carne is arguably one of the few truly American dishes. Jane and Michael Stern, in the introduction to their book Chili Nation, write, “We have come to believe that chili may just be this country’s one truly shared national food. Although Tex-Mex in origin, it is a dish now found on every American table, across cultural and ethnic lines.” This particular version is made with chunks of beef, as it is in Texas. But it also contains beans, which is decidedly not the Texan thing to do. It gets its heat from fresh hot chiles, ground chipotles, and plenty of ground chili powder, which, incidentally, was devised by a German immigrant in Texas in 1902 and did much to popularize the dish.

  • Yield: 6 Servings


  • 2½–3 pounds beef chuck, cut into ½-inch cubes
  • ½ cup ground chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground chipotle chile, or more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin, or more to taste
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 2 red or green bell peppers, finely chopped
  • 4–6 hot green chiles, finely chopped (seeding is optional)
  • 1 can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes with juice
  • 2¼ cups water
  • 1 can (28 ounces) pink beans, pinto beans, or red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 tablespoon masa harina
How to Make It
  1. Combine the meat, chili powder, chipotle, cumin, and salt and pepper to taste. Toss to coat the meat with the spices.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Sauté half the meat in the oil until browned, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a Dutch oven. Repeat with another 1 tablespoon oil and the remaining meat.
  3. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in the skillet. Add the onions, bell peppers, and chiles, and sauté until softened, about 2 minutes.
  4. Add the sautéed vegetables to the meat in the Dutch oven, along with the tomatoes and 2 cups of the water. Simmer over the lowest possible heat (do not boil), uncovered, until the meat is tender and the sauce is reduced and somewhat thickened, 2 to 3 hours. It is important not to rush the cooking; otherwise, the meat will be tough.
  5. Stir in the beans and adjust the seasonings, adding more salt, pepper, cumin, or chipotle powder as needed. Mix the masa harina in a small bowl with the remaining ¼ cup water until dissolved. Stir into the chili and cook for about 5 minutes. Serve hot.

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