The main content

Smoky Beef and Bean Chili


  • 2 pounds ground sirloin

  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

  • 4 dried Ancho chilies, seeded and stemmed

  • 3 cups beef stock

  • 2 tablespoons canola or olive oil

  • 4 slices meaty bacon or 1/4 pound slab, finely diced

  • Salt and pepper

  • 2 tablespoons (a couple scant palmfuls) cumin

  • 1 tablespoon (a scant palmful) coriander

  • 1 tablespoon (a scant palmful) sweet paprika

  • 1 teaspoon (1/3 palmful) allspice

  • 1 teaspoon (1/3 palmful) oregano or marjoram

  • 1 large onion, finely diced

  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped

  • 2 tablespoons chipotle in adobo, pasted or finely chopped

  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste

  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire

  • 2 14-ounce cans diced tomatoes with chilies

  • 1 15-ounce can pinto beans or black beans

  • 2 tablespoons masa harina, polenta or grits or tortilla crumbs


  • Fritos

  • Minced white onions

  • Cilantro leaves

  • Sour cream or crème fraiche


Combine meat with baking soda and 2 tablespoons water, let stand 30 minutes. This will make meat brown deeper and crispier. 

Soak Anchos in stock over low heat to reconstitute the peppers; purée in a food processor. 

Heat a large soup pot or Dutch oven over medium-high to high heat. Add oil, 2 turns of the pan, and bacon; render 1-2 minutes. Add beef and brown and crumble until crispy and deep brown. Add salt and pepper, dry spices, stir to toast them; add onions, garlic and chipotle paste and cook to soften, 7-8 minutes. Add tomato paste and stir, add Worcestershire, Ancho purée, tomatoes, beans and 2 cups water. Add masa or cornmeal and simmer to thicken 20-30 minutes. 

Serve in shallow bowls with toppings.