First, a mercifully brief bit of history. Chili is believed to have originated in Mexico and literally translates to “chili pepper” in Spanish. However, it didn’t take very long at all for the U.S. to adapt this versatile and irresistible new dish. American settlers combined dried beef, suet, dried peppers, and salt and then boiled it in pots along the trail.
Chili quickly gained popularity through the U.S and restaurants started branding their unique blends of meat, spices and herbs as their own “secret recipe.” This is what makes chili so unique. Chili’s inherent quality of individual customization is what makes it wildly popular at food competitions and chili cook-offs. harvest festivals and ultimately enjoyment at home.
While there are thousands of variations, one of my favorite chili recipes includes heartily grilled, luscious and caramelized steak, spicy jalapeños, chipotle and two extra special ingredients; coffee and dark chocolate. Chocolate gives the chili additional depth of flavor while Coffee is the perfect ingredient to round out the dish and add some depth. In fact the bitterness of coffee will help bring out the sweetness of the meat.
Steak Chili Recipe
- 1 1/2 lb. sirloin steak, cut into 3/4 inch cubes
- 2 Tbsp. cooking oil
- 6 cloves garlic minced
- 1 Vidalia or sweet white onion, diced
- 2 jalapeños minced (or for a smoked flavor, you can substitute with chipotle peppers… whatever fires you up!)
- 1 cup dry red wine
- 2 cans (15 oz or 200 mg each) crushed or diced tomatoes
- 1 cup of beer, stout or lager
- 2 Tbsp. chile powder
- 1 teaspoon ancho chile powder (if available, otherwise use an additional teaspoon red chile powder)
- 2 teaspoons dried basil
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons cider vinegar or lime juice
- 3 cups of cooked kidney beans or other beans of your choice (canned beans work just fine)
- 2 oz. (55mg) dark chocolate with chili (we prefer Lindt Excellence Chili Dark Chocolate Bar)
- 1/2 cup coffee (traditional dark roast or house blend, avoid flavored coffees)
- Grated cheese of your choice (we prefer sharp cheddar)
- Fresh sour cream (optional)
- Sea salt and freshly ground peppercorns
- Salt and pepper the 3/4″ cubes of steak. Bring a grill or heavy pan to high heat, oil the grill grates or pot with cooking oil and then quickly sear the sirloin meat for approximately 4-5 minutes, making sure to give it time to get some good caramelized color.
- If grilling the steak, remove from the grill and transfer the grilled meat into a large pot. If you chose to cook the steak in a pot, move the steak to one side of the pan and sauté the onions and jalapeños (or chipotle) for 1-2 minutes, followed by garlic. Be sure not to burn the garlic.
- De-glaze the pan with the wine and let it cook down for about a minute, then mix in your tomatoes, beans and the two chili powders. Sprinkle in the sweet basil, cumin, paprika and brown sugar.
- Add the beer at this point, enough to cover most of the ingredients while giving the mix a soup-like consistency. Add the cider vinegar or lime juice. If there is not enough liquid covering everything at this point, add some fresh, clean water. Do not add more beer.
- Simmer for at least two hours. This gives the steak a chance to break down and evolve into scrumptious and melt-in-your-mouth pieces. Sample the meat as you get near the two-hour mark to check for tenderness.
- When the meat is tender, add the coffee, chocolate, and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for a few minutes to blend the flavors, then serve.
- Top individual servings with grated cheddar and sour cream if desired.