I’m writing this post during a small window of blissful respite at the tail end of a long weekend. It’s been a whirlwind of activity—I spent the past few days away from home, watching my nieces while my sister and brother-in-law celebrated their anniversary out of town. Not to say we haven’t been enjoying ourselves thoroughly, but supervising three children under the age of five—solo—comes with its share of challenging moments. Between dispute mediation, messy cleanups, and successful, unscathed (small) ventures out of the house, I’ve come to a new appreciation for being a single mother of one lone preschooler.
I prepared this filling, one-pot meal a day or two before leaving home, expecting to be thoroughly exhausted upon my return this evening to our quiet and comparably uneventful life. I knew I needed something simple and quick to heat up, but also hearty and healthy. This chili is similar to what you’d find in various regions of the country, but the addition of bitter chocolate, steak, and smoky chipotle powder creates an unparalleled depth of flavor—and a level of sophistication we don’t often associate with something as down-home as chili. Chuck steak calls for a longer cooking time than traditional ground meat, so be sure to plan accordingly (or substitute ground meat for a shorter cook-time). And as with any chili, cooking it in advance allows the flavors to meld.
Feel free to adorn with the garnishes of your choice: shredded cheese, sour cream, avocado, chopped cilantro, and the like. Add a side of warm cornbread, buttered tortillas, or salad, and you’ve got yourself a welcoming meal to enjoy on a cold evening, during a football game, or when, like me, you just desire some uncomplicated deliciousness. Now excuse me while I go polish off my second pot of strongly brewed Earl Grey tea…
Spicy Chuck Steak Chili with Chipotle and Chocolate
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 3 hours
2 tablespoons beef tallow, lard, or olive oil, divided
1½ lbs. chuck steak, diced into ½-inch cubes
Salt and pepper
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 bell pepper, chopped
2 tablespoons ancho chili powder
2 teaspoons chipotle chili powder or 2 chipotle chilies in adobo
1 teaspoon cumin
1 tablespoon coconut sugar (optional, but it will balance the flavors)
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
3 cups cooked black beans
1 (28 oz.) canned diced tomatoes with juice
2 cups homemade beef or chicken broth
Sour cream, shredded cheese, avocado, chopped cilantro, for garnish
- Preheat the oven to 300°F. Add a little of the fat in a large Dutch oven set over medium heat. Season chuck steak with salt and pepper. Add to Dutch oven and brown in batches if necessary. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
- Heat remaining fat in the pan. Sauté onions, garlic, and bell pepper until golden. Season with salt and pepper. Add spices, coconut sugar, and cocoa powder and cook a minute or two. Return steak to pot, along with beans, tomatoes, and broth. Cover. Bring to a boil on stovetop, then transfer to the oven.
- Cook for about 2½–3 hours, stirring occasionally, until steak is tender. Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve with garnishes of your choice.
To choose your organically grown and fresh ingredients wisely, use the following criteria:
- chemical- and hormone-free meat
- wild-caught fish
- pasture-raised, organic eggs
- whole, unrefined grains
- virgin, unrefined, first-press organic oils
- whole-food, unrefined sweeteners
- pure, clean, spring water
- sea salt
- raw and/or cultured milk and cream products
Photo by Briana Nervig