Smoked Brisket Chili
When the weather turns chilly, there is nothing quite as comforting as a big bowl of red—chili, that is… While there are as many regional variations in the U.S. for chili as there are barbeque joints, diners and dives, what distinguishes a Texan “red” is what it lacks—tomatoes, bell peppers and beans. Thickened with a variety of smoked, dried and fresh chiles, onions, or a slurry of corn masa to tighten it up, there is no mistaking this homage as a meat-lovers dream in a bowl. This recipe creates a thinner style chili—love it as a topping for chili-smothered hot dogs and nachos. If you are looking for a thicker chili, add the masa slurry, on medium heat stirring constantly, till incorporated and chili has thickened.
This recipe has the best qualities of a Texas chili—lots of smoked brisket but also a small amount of creamy pinto beans for textural interest. A variety of smoked and roasted chiles impart layers of flavor, complexity, depth, and a rich, reddish color without the distraction of acidic tomatoes. This chili focuses your attention squarely on the smoky taste of meat. The “heat” level from the chili peppers in this dish is moderate, but you can decrease the spiciness by halving the amount of roasted green Hatch chiles (or remove it if you have kids). The red Hatch chili is mild and adds a savory character to the dish—try to keep it in.
The chili tastes like it took days to make but actually comes together in 30 minutes. The caveat is to source the smoked brisket from a reliable source that uses real wood smoke, low temperatures and lots of time to get that charcoal-colored bark, deep smoky flavor and fork-tender meat. There are several fantastic online sources, or look to your local barbecue joints or specialty markets. Since you are preparing this dish with pre-cooked meat, be careful not to overcook the chili stew since that will render the brisket tough. Do not use a bone broth that uses vinegar in the mix—look for a product that uses beef bones, carrots, onions and salt—that’s it. You want a “beefy flavor with lots of collagen—my fav is Butcher’s brand, which is widely available in most markets now.
Smoked Brisket Chili
Serves: 6 as a main; 8 as an appetizer
1 ½ tablespoons beef tallow
¾ large yellow onion, peeled and chopped
2 large cloves peeled garlic, micro-planed or smashed to a paste
¼ teaspoon kosher flake salt
4 ounces roasted Hatch peppers, mild
1 ounce ground pasilla or ancho chile powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 tablespoon Melissa’s red Hatch chile powder, mild
1 ½ pounds smoked Texas Style-brisket
1 (15.5-ounce) can organic pinto beans, drained and rinsed
½ cup filtered water
24 ounces beef bone broth (I recommend Butcher’s brand)
1/4 cup corn masa flour, I recommend Bob's Red Mill organic masa harina
1/4 cup warm water
Mix water into masa and whisk with a fork till incorporated.
Shredded sharp cheddar or jack cheese
Chopped yellow onions
Pickled jalapeno chiles, sliced
Sour cream or Mexican Crema
Place a medium nonstick skillet on medium heat, add beef tallow, and heat till melted. Add onion and salt, then reduce heat to medium-low and sauté till onion is transparent and soft—about 4-5 minutes, stirring with a wooden spoon. Add garlic and stir again, sautéing for 1 minute or till fragrant. Add Melissa’s Hatch mild red chile powder, pasilla or ancho chile powder, roasted Hatch green chiles, smoked paprika and cumin and stir till combined. Sauté till warm, about 3 minutes, adding more oil or beef tallow if the mixture gets dry.
Transfer onion/chili mixture to a medium-sized Crock Pot or slow cooker. Add smoked brisket, beef bone broth, water, and beans and stir to combine. Place setting on high till chili begins to simmer, then reduce to low, cover and cook for 20 minutes. Check chili after 15-20 minutes. To see if meat is heated through and beans are warm.
To serve, ladle chili into bowls. Serve with various garnishes: shredded cheddar or Jack cheese, chopped yellow onions, sour cream, pickled sliced jalapenos and minced cilantro.