The Gourmet Bowl of Red

This is a gourmet chili for people who relish flavor without the heat. It is a dish the whole family can enjoy. Note that the cayenne pepper is optional. Coffee has long been a staple in authentic chili recipes – it harks back to the southwest chuck wagon cooks who threw just about anything leftover into the pot to stretch the meal for a hungry crew of trailhands. If you’re the adventurous type, throw it in. It adds an earthy undertone that compliments the dish nicely. And no, there aren’t any noodles. Real chili never has noodles.


2.5 to 3 pounds lean ground beef
XV olive oil
3 ribs diced celery
2 huge spanish or yellow onions, rough chopped
1 bulb garlic (each clove peeled and minced)
3 cups beef stock
1 cup strong black coffee
1 32 oz. can whole peeled tomatoes
1 tbs. dried mexican oregano leaf
1 tbs. dried basil
1 tbs. ground cayenne pepper (OPTIONAL)
2 tbs. toasted cumin (ground in mortar from seed)*
2 tsp. salt
1/3 cup pure chili powder (mild chimayo or mild chili molido)**
2 green bell peppers, diced
2 red bell peppers, diced
2 cans drained unseasoned red kidney beans
2 tbs. masa harina (cornmeal) used as thickener.


Using a large heavy skillet, brown the ground beef, working in two batches. Drain and add to a 5-quart Dutch oven, preheated to medium on stovetop. Cover the Dutch oven.

In the same skillet, heat three tbs. olive oil and add the chopped onion and celery. Again, you may want to work in two batches, depending on the size of your skillet. Cook until tender and slightly carmelized, about twenty minutes. Transfer to Dutch oven. Reduce heat in skillet and saute garlic in small amount of olive oil, being careful not to burn it. If you burn it, the garlic will taste bitter. Add the garlic to the Dutch oven.

Next, add the beef stock, coffee and dry spices to the pot. Add the tomatoes and mash with your spoon. Bring heat up to a low simmer and cook UNCOVERED for 2.5 hours. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.

Add the kidney beans and bell pepper and cook for an additional half hour. Take care not to overcook the beans.

Add the masa during the last ten minutes of this time as a thickener if needed.

3 hours cooking time. Makes 5 quarts.
Chili will benefit from an overnight rest.

*to toast cumin seed, place the seed in a small skillet heated to medium. When seed starts to heat up, shake the skillet so the seeds don’t burn. When slightly toasted, remove from heat and grind in a mortar/pestle. Preparing cumin this way creates a more complex, intense flavor than just using storebought ground cumin.

**Use pure chili powder, instead of chili powder mix (storebought brands like McCormick.) Those mixed brands are cut with fillers like cumin and oregano (which you are already adding yourself.) Spice companies think you are either too lazy to add the other ingredients yourself, or that you don’t know how to cook. Check the label… you’ll see for yourself. They impart a totally different flavor. You can find pure chili powder in most Mexican markets. Chimayo is excellent and ranges from mild to very hot.


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