Make This Brisket-Based Chili if You Need the Most Meat

Illustration for article titled Make This Brisket-Based Chili if You Need the Most Meat

Photo: Claire Lower

Hello cats and kittens, and welcome to another delicious installment of the Skillet Chili Cook-Off, the seasonal culinary competition that’s keeping me (and my freezer) full of spicy stew.

Advertisement

This week’s contender, from commenter Josh, is quite different from the delicacies we’ve sampled thus far. While the focus of any given bowl of chili is usually the meat, that focus is laser sharp in this particular recipe. Not only are there no beans in it, but there’s very little of anything else, and it’s abundantly clear that every non-meat ingredient is there to make the bite-size pieces of brisket and chuck look good.

Advertisement

With only onion, tomatoes, and a couple of chilis (jalapeño and roasted poblano), there isn’t much for the meat to hide behind, and that’s a good thing. The spices are minimal, but carefully chosen. The chili powder is Ancho, the paprika is smoked, and the cumin is toasted and then ground into a powder. There is also some dried thyme, which I wasn’t expecting, but its contribution of a bit of verdant herbiness works quite well. Everything acts as an accent for the meat: It’s a little smokey, a little acidic, and a tiny bit spicy, with a hint of sweetness from a few hand-crushed tomatoes and the slightly fruity peppers. In short, this chili is unapologetically meaty in flavor and content, and it rules.

After the initial browning of the meat and sautéing of onion and jalapeño, the spices, tomato, and roasted poblano are added, along with a good amount of cheap beer, and everything is simmered for hours until the meat is fork tender and the vegetables have all but dissolved into a dark and flavorful not-quite-broth.

Like the chili, Josh’s comment is pared down and straight-forward. I’m gonna drop it here and meet you on the other side.

Advertisement

The only thing I did not like about this recipe is that the formatting made it kind of hard to read, so I would recommend writing it out on a piece of paper before embarking on this chili quest; it’s very easy to get lost in the ingredients list, which could lead to you missing something or adding the wrong amount of something else.

I also halved the recipe. I still have some of the other two chilis in my freezer, and adding six pounds of brisket and chuck to that supply was daunting. Luckily, it scales quite well.

Advertisement

Would I change anything? I don’t know that I would. I was initially perplexed by the lack of garlic, but I don’t actually miss it. This chili really honors the meat, adding only enough of everything else to enhance it. I was tempted to add a pinch of sugar when I first tasted it last night, but an overnight rest mellowed the sharper flavors and let the tomato-y sweetness shine through. I did however, find myself wishing for tortillas on the side, rather than sourdough, but that’s just a matter of personal preference.

Leave a Comment