Sometimes the simplest tweak of a beloved dish can change it from ordinary to amazing. In this case beef and beer chili uses cubes of beef rather than ground and a good bottle of ale which makes all the difference. Make a double batch for game day Sunday, then freeze half for an easy weeknight dinner with a green salad. Don’t forget the Cheddar toast for dunking!
Beef for chili: Purists might consider cubed beef instead of ground beef chili fraud, but it’s really so much better for many reasons. 1) Whole beef is tastier especially when it’s cooked until fork tender in beer, tomatoes and chili spices. 2) Whole beef is leaner and healthier. Since the meat is braised, a tough, lean cut of meat such as chuck or round is perfect and inexpensive. Many supermarkets sell “stew” meat prepackaged making it a grab and go home run.
Cooking with beer: Beer adds an earthy flavor to the chili while tenderizing the meat as it cooks. The heat and lengthy cooking process burns off all of the alcohol and reduces that beer flavor to nothing more than an ingredient enhancing the overall flavor of the chili. Use a good quality drinking beer such as Palm Ale (brother JB introduced me to this tasty Belgian pale ale – thanks “Beer Burt”)
Cheddar toast: Switch it up by making bubbly Cheddar toast to dunk into the chili. Any bread will do as long as it’s in a 2-inch square. Top with shredded Cheddar and chopped scallions toasted under the broiler. It makes a great hors d’oeuvre too.
- 1 ½ pounds cubed chuck beef
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 celery stalks, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1-tablespoon chili powder
- 1-tablespoon smoked paprika
- 1-tablespoon dark brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1-teaspoon salt
- 12 oz. bottle of good beer (try Palm Ale)
- 4 oz. can of diced green chiles (mild or hot)
- 28 oz. can diced fire roasted tomatoes
- 15 oz. can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- 12 pieces of bread cut into 2-inch squares
- 1 cup (4 oz.) shredded Cheddar cheese
- ½ bunch scallions (3-4), trimmed and chopped
- Chili: In a large pot over medium/high heat, add the beef. Let it cook undisturbed in the dry pot for about 2-3 minutes to sear, then turn to sear the other sides. Add onion, celery and garlic to the beef mixture. The fat released in the beef will soften and cook the veggies. Reduce the heat to medium/low and cook about 10 minutes more. Add the chili powder, paprika, brown sugar, cayenne and salt followed by the beer. Turn the heat up to a low boil and cook 10 minutes more. The beer will deglaze the pan and reduce a bit. Add the chiles and tomatoes, reduce heat to low, cover and cook about an hour. Add beans and cook another 30 minutes until the beef is fork tender and the chili is thick and rich.
- Toast: Pre-heat broiler. Place bread pieces on a baking sheet lined with non-stick aluminum foil (for easy clean up). In a small bowl, mix the cheese with the chopped scallions. Evenly distribute the cheese mixture on the bread and broil 6-inches from the heat source until brown and bubbly, about 2 minutes. Note: keep an eye on this as it can burn easily!