Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Texas Beef Brisket Chili

I wanted to do something a little different than what you'd normally get at Christmas and I knew an Aidells recipe would be just the ticket. His philosophy has got to be "go big or go home" and this is no exception.

Certainly, I questioned the inclusion of squash. It's chili, so what the heck is squash doing in there. But having tried an Aidells Smoky Tex-Mex Chili previously, I figured if he wants squash in the chili it's for a good reason.

I couldn't find any fire-roasted diced tomatoes with green chiles so just used regular fire-roasted tomatoes. After starting on the recipe I realized I didn't have cumin seeds so used ground cumin. The remaining 5 bottles of  Negra Modelo I'd purchased for the last chili recipe were still rolling around in the fridge so one of those went into this recipe.

Texas Beef Brisket Chili
adapted from Epicurious
click to print

6 large dried ancho chiles
(0.39 lb) 6 oz bacon, diced
1 1/4 lb onions, chopped (about 4 cups)
1 5-lb flat-cut (also called first-cut) beef brisket, cut into 2 1/2- to 3-inch cubes
coarse kosher salt
6 large garlic cloves, peeled
2 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp ground coriander
1 1/2 tsp coarse kosher salt
1-14.5-oz can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
1 12-oz bottle Mexican beer
1 7-oz can diced roasted green chiles
1/2 c finely chopped fresh cilantro stems
4 c 1 1/2- to 2-inch chunks seeded peeled butternut squash (from 3 1/2-pound squash)

Fresh cilantro leaves
Chopped red onion
Diced avocado
Shredded Monterey Jack cheese
Warm corn and/or flour tortillas or chips

Place chiles in medium bowl. Pour enough boiling water over to cover. Soak until chiles soften, at least 30 minutes and up to 4 hours.

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Sauté bacon in heavy large oven-proof pot over medium-high heat until beginning to brown.

Add onions. Reduce heat to medium; cover and cook until tender, about 5 minutes.

Sprinkle beef all over with coarse salt and pepper. Add to pot; stir to coat. Set aside.

Drain chiles, reserving soaking liquid. Place chiles in blender. Add 1 cup soaking liquid, garlic, chili powder, cumin seeds, oregano, coriander, and 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt; blend to puree.

Blend in more soaking liquid by 1/4 cupfuls if very thick.

Pour puree over brisket in pot. Add tomatoes with juices, beer, green chiles, and cilantro stems. Stir to coat evenly.

Bring chili to simmer. Cover and place in oven. Cook 2 hours.

Some of the smaller pieces were already tender.

Uncover and cook until beef is almost tender, about 1 hour.

Chili uncovered, stirred, and cooked in the oven another hour.

Add squash; stir to coat.

Roast uncovered until beef and squash are tender, adding more soaking liquid if needed to keep meat covered, about 45 minutes longer.

Soaking liquid was added before the pot went back into the oven.

Season chili to taste with salt and pepper. Cool 1 hour. Chill uncovered until cold, then cover and keep chilled. Skim fat from cold chili.

Rewarm chili over low heat. Ladle chili into bowls and serve alongside garnishes.

This chili is pretty good but the garnishes really make give it that little somethin' that makes it really good. After putting some on, I went back and really loaded the toppings on. Room temperature avocado and onions on hot chili contrasts like crazy and it works out well.

I'll admit I'm not a huge fan of the bigger chunks of squash. The smaller ones went essentially unnoticed, so it's like free fiber I guess. Maybe that's not a concern to you but I likes me some fiber. And the squash imparted a little bit of sweetness that was interesting.

I didn't think the rehydrated ancho chiles would bring a lot of heat and they didn't. The spice level was fairly mild, just noticeable. The flavor though really quite pleasant.

Overall, a good recipe worth doing again but I think I prefer the Smoky Tex-Mex Chili. I did like the smoke in the other one. And I think I just prefer chuck roast over brisket. Regardless I'll hold off on making either of them again unless I am hosting about 10 people. Both recipe yield a LOT of chili. There were a few times during execution of this recipe that I wondered if the Dutch oven would be able to hold it all.

Total: $33.99 or about $3.40 for each of 10 big servings. Oh, and the garnishes:
  • red onion: $0.87 
  • avocado: $3.89 
  • Monterey Jack cheese: $1.75 
  • tortilla chips: $1.50
Grand Total: $42 or about $4.20 for each of 10 big servings.