I’ve had a few requests to share this chili recipe from time to time; most likely because everyone who has ever had it subsequently decides it is the best chili they have ever had. Giving credit where it’s due, this is based on Alton Brown’s chili recipe from his book, I’m Just Here for the Food, but modified to my own tastes. The sauce is rich and spicy, although it’s a nice, even keel that doesn’t get hotter and hotter with each bite.

A word of warning: I’ve gotten to the point where I throw this recipe together by feel and don’t necessarily remember the exact measurements for some of this. Where I’m unsure, I’ve noted the ingredient as “(approx)”. You may want to adjust them to taste.


  • Well-seasoned 4-Quart Cast Iron Dutch Oven
  • Stick Blender


  • 1 red bell pepper

  • 1.25 lbs Beef Chuck Steak
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt (approx)
  • 1 tsp fresh ground black pepper (approx)
  • 1 tbsp Chipotle chili powder (approx)
  • 1/2 tsp ground cayenne pepper (approx)

  • 2 tbsp olive oil

  • 2 large yellow onions, chopped
  • 2 large cloves of elephant garlic, chopped

  • 2 cups beef broth (approx)
  • 12 oz of good beer. (approx) No, this is not as subjective as you think. If you use Budweiser or the like, I will hunt you down.
  • 28 oz canned diced tomatoes
  • 2 Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (2 peppers, not 2 cans)
  • 2 dried California chilies, seeds removed and cut into strips
  • 2 dried Ancho chilies, seeds removed and cut into strips
  • 2 squares of unsweetened baker’s chocolate
  • 2-3 drops of Da’Bomb Beyond Insanity (or some other hot sauce rated at roughly 120,000 scoville units)

  • 2-3 14 oz cans of kidney and/or black beans, drained and thoroughly rinsed

  • Tortilla chips
  • Sour Cream
  • Chives
  • Shredded cheddar cheese


  1. Cut one red bell pepper in half, lengthwise; remove seeds and stem.

  2. Place the red bell pepper halves in the oven, on the top rack, skin-side up, and turn on the broiler until the skins are black.

  3. Remove the red bell pepper from the oven using tongs, and place them in an airtight container such as a resealable freezer bag.

  4. Trim large sections of fat from 1.25 lbs of Beef Chuck Steak and then cube the meat into small cubes (approximately 1/2” cubes). This is easier to do with a pair of kitchen scissors than with a knife. DO NOT GRIND THE MEAT OR USE GROUND BEEF!

  5. Combine the 1 tbsp kosher salt, 1 tsp fresh ground black pepper, 1 tbsp Chipotle chili powder and 1/2 tsp ground cayenne pepper in a small dish.

  6. In a large bowl, toss the cubed meat with the spice mixture to thoroughly coat the meat.

  7. Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a 4-quart cast iron dutch oven over medium-high heat. It is warm enough when the oil shimmers, but it should not be smoking excessively at this point.

  8. Add a small amount (less than 1/4 cup) of the meat to the dutch oven and sear the meat (i.e. do not move it excessively) on all sides.

  9. Remove the meat from the dutch oven and set it on a large plate until cool enough to touch.

  10. Taste the meat. It should be salty, though not overwhelmingly so, and it should in the medium-hot spiciness range, whatever that means to you. If it is not spicy enough, toss the remaining, uncooked meat with more Chipotle powder and/or cayenne pepper. If it is too spicy…better luck next time.

  11. Cook the remaining meat in batches small enough to maintain space in the bottom of the pot between pieces of meat. This allows the meat to sear properly as opposed to just browning, as it doesn’t become overwhelmed with moisture. You want the pieces to be almost crispy, but not burnt. Due to the spice on the meat, be sure to use a vent fan, and avoid breathing in the steam/smoke from the meat. You will be unhappy if you breathe that in. Once cooked, remove each batch from the dutch oven and set aside on the same large plate.

  12. Under cold, running water, use your fingers to remove the blackened skins from the red bell pepper halves.

  13. Add the onions and garlic to the dutch oven, and sauté until the onions are soft and translucent.

  14. Add the beef broth, beer, diced tomatoes, red bell pepper, Chipotle peppers, California chilies, ancho chilies, baker’s chocolate and hot sauce to the dutch oven, stir together, and bring the mixture to a boil.

  15. Reduce the heat, cover with the lid, and simmer for 10 minutes.

  16. Remove the dutch oven from the heat.

  17. Using the stick blender right in the dutch oven, puree the mixture until it forms a smooth sauce. Be sure to get the bottom and corners of the pot; there should be no chunks of anything when you are done. Be careful! The sauce is quite hot in terms of both temperature and spiciness. Don’t let it splash you while using the stick blender.

  18. Add the cooked meat and the beans to the pot and stir to combine, adding more beef broth and/or beer as necessary to ensure that all beans and meat are submerged in the sauce without making it too soupy.

  19. Set the oven temperature to 200 degrees Fahrenheit, place the dutch oven in your oven, and let the chili braise for several hours; the longer, the better.

To Serve

  1. Crunch up a handful of tortilla chips in the bottom of each bowl.

  2. Ladle chili on top of the tortilla chips.

  3. Add a tablespoon or two of sour cream.

  4. Cover with shredded cheese and garnish with chives.

  5. Enjoy it with a good beer.