Saturday, September 19, 2015

10 Pound Chili: New Mexico Style, with No Sissy Gringo Ingredients

Huge Boxes of Locally Grown Chilis, Roasted to Order
In the summer, supermarkets sell a lot of steaks. That means that the cuts of beef that aren't suitable for steaks will be abundant and cheap. So when the neighborhood's grills are full of steak, I buy the less tender cuts to make New Mexico style "Chilis Verdes con Carne". This is just what it says in Spanish: green chilis with meat. It combines the essentials of New Mexican cooking, green chilis, garlic, onions and slow-cooked beef with the classic spices of Old Mexican mol├ęs.

It's called 10-pound chili because it takes 10 pounds each of the three main ingredients.

The recipe makes about 4 gallons of chili, which is enough for a crowd, or to freeze for later use. Start it the day before you plan to serve it, because the time in the oven is when all the flavors blend together.

Time required:
Ingredient prep - a couple of hours of chopping
2-3 hours on the grill, with attention about every 30 minutes
Overnight in the oven at 200°
A bit of attention the next morning to adjust the seasoning

Big barbecue grill and mesquite charcoal or mesquite firewood
16-20 quart oven-proof stock pot with lid
large roasting pan


  • 10 pounds of boneless cheap beef (round tip roast, chuck roast, tri-tip, etc.)
  • 10 pounds dry yellow onions (not the "sweet" kind, just ordinary yellow onions)
  • 10 pounds fresh green chiles, roasted and peeled, your choice of hotness (this is about 5 pounds of chiles if you buy them already roasted, seeded and peeled, or about 12 cups).
    We use Hatch green chilis, roasted by the supermarket at the time of purchase. You can buy processed chiles (shipped frozen) online. Canned chiles are a poor second choice.
  • 1 or more cups peeled chopped garlic (use the jars of chopped garlic from the supermarket unless you want to spend hours peeling cloves)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup olive oil
  • A handful of dried bay leaves
  • Cocoa powder, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and allspice

Meat Preparation:

  • Cut the beef into golf-ball sized chunks.
  • Cut the onions into chunks about the same size as the beef.
  • Dump most of the oil, all of the garlic, the bay leaves, and a couple of cups of onions in the bottom of the roasting pan and stir it together. 
  • Add the beef chunks and stir some more. Then cover the beef with a thick layer of onions. 

Meat Grilling:
You want to slow cook the meat until the onions are tender and the beef is cooked all the way through. I use a combo smoker/grill and cook the roaster-ful of beef and onion slowly for several hours with a medium amount of smoke. Put the lid on the roaster when the meat is as smoky as you like it. The meat will often turn a bright red - it's a side effect of the smoke, it's normal.

You know it's finished when the onions on top turn very soft and juicy.

The rest of the cooking:
In the kitchen, while the meat is grilling, saute the rest of the onions in the rest of the oil in the huge stockpot until the onions are turning transparent.

Stir in the spices:
  • 1/4 C dark cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon EACH of ground cloves, nutmeg and allspice
  • Add the roasted, peeled and seeded chilis, chopped into pieces the same size as the onions.
  • Stir it together. 

Set this aside until the meat is done.

When the meat is done, add it and all the juices to the stockpot and stir everything together.
Cover the stockpot tightly and put it in a 200° oven for 8-12 hours (overnight)

The next morning, add more spices.
Scoop out some of the juice and blend it with:
  • 1/4 C dark cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon EACH of ground cloves, nutmeg and allspice
Stir the blend into the pot of chili and put it back in the oven for an hour or so.
Serve a crowd or freeze it in meal-sized portions for later. I serve it over rice or cornbread.

NOTE:  Getting the chilis and the beef as inexpensively as possible means buying them when they are cheapest and freezing them until it's time to cook the chili.

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