I LOVE chili. I loved braised beef, period, as we’ve discussed before – namely in the post above my Carne Guisada recipe – and chili is something I’m always happy to eat. I’m biased, admittedly and obviously, but the recipe I’m sharing with you today, María’s Favorite Chili, is some of the best chili I have ever had in my life – and I’ve had a LOT of chili.
This recipe was originally in my ebook ‘As Seen on IG‘ and titled Slow-Cooker Chili. I wanted to make sure to include regular instructions for those that don’t have slow cookers, so you’ll find both stovetop and slow-cooker recipes included in the recipe card. And because how good chili is definitely subjective, I titled it María’s Favorite Chili instead of BEST CHILI IN THE WHOLE WORLD because you might disagree.
What You’ll Need to Make María’s Favorite Chili
Feel free to jump to the full recipe, but here are useful notes about the ingredients you will need to make María’s Favorite Chili recipe:
- Ground sirloin, chuck roast: You can use regular ground beef, just make it lean. Like 90/10 or leaner. Make sure to trim the excess fat from your chuck roast as you cut it into pieces. Too much fat will make for greasy chili, and that’s no good. You can also opt for the ‘stew meat’ you find in grocery stores or a different type of roast like sirloin tip.
- Light kidney beans, dark kidney beans: I like beans in my chili, but I worked on this recipe repeatedly until I knew it would work well either way.
- Tomato sauce, diced tomatoes with habaneros, fire-roasted diced tomatoes: It’s not chili without tomatoes idc!
- Bell pepper, jalapeno pepper, poblano pepper, yellow onion: We want a hearty, chunky chili, but these for the most part will break all the way down and add very little discernible texture.
- Beef broth: The recipe calls for 8-10 cups because it varies based on cook time, ingredient amounts, and also personal preference. I like chili that doesn’t leave any broth/gravy behind. If you like a looser chili, such as Wendy’s chili, add up to the whole 10 cups.
- All-purpose flour, masa harina: We use this to coat the pieces of chuck roast. The combination adds a great flavor to the chili, so we use the leftover flour mixture to thicken things, too. Unless you’re making this in the slow cooker: we thicken it a little differently.
- Chili powders: I usually use Ancho, Chipotle, and New Mexico chili powders. If you can only find the stuff labeled as ‘chili powder’ in the seasoning aisle, that’ll work fine, but try to find some variations. I know that McCormick offers chili powder, hot Mexican chili powder, dark red chili powder, and chipotle chili powder at my local grocery stores. Different kinds will make your chili sing! Variety is the spice of life, after all.
- Garlic powder, ground cumin, dried oregano, seasoned salt: We use seasoned salt to flavor the chili. Kosher salt is to season our meats, as we sear them. I like to use more seasoned salt to adjust the flavors, but you can use kosher salt there instead. I like Lawry’s. Use what you want. Or substitute Kosher salt, if you like.
- Molasses, dark brown sugar, liquid smoke, fish sauce: Remember how long and hard I said I worked on this recipe? Figuring this part out – these extra flavorings – was most of the work. Together they round out the chili experience: cutting thru any acidity, deepening the umami, and elevating certain aspects. Oyster sauce can be used to substitute fish sauce and light brown sugar or honey can be used in place of molasses. Use regular molasses, not Blackstrap: that’s too bitter.
How to Make María’s Favorite Chili
Full instructions are included in the recipe below, but here is a basic overview of what you’ll need to do, along with some important tidbits to help you make the most of María’s Favorite Chili recipe:
- Season and sear the roast. Add the roast chunks to a large mixing bowl and season them liberally with kosher salt. Sprinkle the flour and masa harina over the meat and toss, making sure each piece is coated. Place a large dutch oven over medium-high heat and drizzle in a couple of teaspoons of vegetable oil. Add the pieces of roast in a single layer, making sure not to crowd the pan so all the meat will sear well – leave about a 1/2″ of space between them. Let cook undisturbed for 3 minutes, then flip and sear the other sides. Continue in batches, until all the pieces have been seared, and set them aside to rest.
- Season and sear the ground beef. Add it to the dutch oven and sprinkle in the ancho chile powder along with a 1/2 tbsp each of seasoned salt, and garlic powder. Brown completely and drain any excess fat. Stir the diced onions and peppers into the ground beef and cook for 5-7 minutes, until the onions begin to brown around the edges.
- Build the chili. Now, pour in the cans of diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, molasses, fish sauce, liquid smoke, brown sugar, and all remaining seasonings. Stir it all together, then stir in the beef broth. Taste and if needed, adjust the flavor with more seasoned salt if bland or brown sugar if tart/acidic/bitter. Bring the chili to a rolling boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and cover with a lid. Let cook for 2 hours, stirring once every 45 minutes or so.
- Skim, stir, simmer. After two hours, remove the lid and use a spoon to skim off the grease that’s pooling on the surface. After you’ve removed as much as you can, go ahead stir everything a few times, making sure to scrape the bottom of the pot as you go. Taste it again, and adjust for salt or sugar, if needed. Cover and continue cooking for another hour, undisturbed.
- Bring it on home. After another hour has passed, remove the lid and once again skim off any grease pooled on top. Grab a piece of chuck roast and see if you can smash it apart with a spoon: if you can, go ahead and add the kidney beans. Let the chili come to a simmer, then reduce the heat to low and cover again. Continue cooking for another couple of hours, until the chili has darkened in color and the mixture has thickened. Dassit!
What To Serve With María’s Favorite Chili
Well if you’re not gonna make Frito Pies – a must every single time I whip up a batch – how about some cornbread? Pictured above is my Browned Butter Honey Cornbread, but any of my cornbread recipes will work!
Obligatory Pinterest graphics –