Alton Brown Chili Con Carne

Add 1 T tomato paste to the beer, along with 1 T chili powder, 1 t ground cumin, 3 big handfuls of crumbled tortilla chips, 16 ounces salsa, 2 chopped canned chipotles, 1 T adobo sauce from the chipotles, and the 3 pounds of browned meat. Tomato paste, chili powder, cumin, and tortilla chips added to beer. Salsa, chipotles, and Adobo sauce added. Meat added to chili.

When I began this project, I had to purchase the first couple seasons of Good Eats through Amazon. Shortly after beginning this blog, I set our DVR to record any and all episodes that were airing, building a stockpile. I currently have 135 episodes recorded. Needless to say, I had a little bit of a panic yesterday morning when I discovered that the clock on our DVR was stuck at 2:41 and it was emitting an odd whirring sound. Oh, and the DVR refused to power off. Thankfully, it rebooted just fine after being unplugged for a few minutes. Whew!

If you want to make good chili, you have to start with great chili powder. Thankfully, Alton has a chili powder recipe that you can whip up easily at home. His chili powder starts with three types of dried chiles: ancho chiles, cascabel chiles, and arbol chiles. While I had no trouble finding the ancho and arbol chiles at my regular grocery store, I had to take a trip to our local Mexican grocery store to find the dried cascabels. For a batch of chili powder, you will need three of each type of chile.

Oh, and for those who do not have a pressure cooker, you can make Alton’s chili in a Dutch oven, letting the chili cook, covered, in a 350-degree oven for 6-24 hours. The flavor of Alton’s chili is pretty fantastic, having just the right amount of heat. The flavor from the toasted chiles blends beautifully with the saltiness of the chips, the sweetness of the tomato paste, and the freshness of the salsa. I found that the beef stew meat was more tender than the pork stew meat, which was slightly chewy. Perhaps a little longer cook would tenderize the pork more. I happen to love lamb, so I wish I could have added some of that to my chili. I also happen to really like beans in my chili, so I would probably opt to add them next time, but that’s really a matter of personal preference. This chili is super flavorful, and if you happen to have a pressure cooker, you get the flavor of a long simmer with a very short cook time. The true hero of this recipe, though, is the homemade chili powder.

Episode 110 is very seasonally appropriate, as chili, to me, is perfect for fall and winter. I got a kick out of this episode because Alton played the role of a cowboy, and remained in character for the duration of the show; I cannot recall another episode in which he did this.

Jump To… Why It’s Great! Recipe Notes Recipe Variations Similar Recipes

I’ve always been a sucker for spicy, so I love the zesty character of this Alton Brown chili recipe. It’s got a yummy herbaceous flavor that commands attention while the warm heat seeps in.

The best part is that it’s all transported by fall-apart tender beef that just makes your mouth happy. Here are some other great reasons to love it!

  • Comes together quickly with virtually no prep
  • Simple full-flavored recipe with plenty of fragrant herbs
  • Chunks of succulent melt-in-your-mouth tender beef
  • No bean recipe full of warm smoky flavor
  • Cutting and Searing the Beef

    Alton Brown Chili Con Carne

    The chili of my youth was made of ground beef, which is key if you dont want to spend the time to properly stew your meat. Grinding beef shortens its fibers, making it far more tender. A ground beef chili can be ready to eat in under an hour. But thats not what were after. Real Texas chili is made with big chunks of meat and requires plenty of slow stewing.

    I played around with a few different sizes and settled on large two-inch chunks (they shrink to about an inch and a half after cooking). I like having to shred a large cube of beef apart with my spoon before eating it, if only to constantly remind myself how perfectly tender the meat has become.

    Alton Brown Chili Con Carne

    As for searing, theres always a trade-off. Searing helps develop nice browned flavors via the Maillard reaction, but it also results in tougher, dryer meat. See, at the high temperatures required for browning, meat muscle fibers contract to greatly and expel so much liquid that even after a long simmer in the pot, the edges of the meat cubes are relatively dry. I vastly prefer the softer texture of unseared meat.

    The solution? Just sear half of the cubes and on one side only. You develop plenty of browned flavor, but retain good texture in the rest of the meat. Worried that the flavor will only be concentrated on the meat that you sear? Dont sweat it. Most of those flavorful compounds are water soluble, meaning that theres plenty of time for them to dissolve and distribute themselves all around the stew as it cooks.


    What does apple cider vinegar do to chili?

    What is the difference between chili and chili con carne? Chili refers to the actual fruit/pepper while chili con carne is a spicy beef stew.

    How do you make Alton Brown chili?

    Finish Every Pot of Chili with a Spoonful of Vinegar

    All it takes is a splash of vinegar, which I bet you already have in the pantry. Stirred into the pot right before serving, a spoonful of vinegar brightens up the finished product, and gives it that full, rounded taste that was missing.

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