Smoky Brisket Chili Recipe

Brisket chili offers a delightful twist on the traditional chili recipe, with slow-cooked brisket as the star ingredient. Unlike standard chili, which usually uses ground beef or turkey, brisket chili utilizes the rich flavors and tender texture of brisket, a cut of beef known for its deep, beefy flavor and melt-in-your-mouth tenderness when cooked slowly. This unique choice of meat elevates the dish, providing a heartier and more robust flavor profile. In this recipe, the brisket is simmered in the chili, infusing it with a hearty depth that contrasts balances with the spicy, tomato-based chili sauce. 

The slow cooking process allows the flavors of the spices to meld perfectly with the meat, creating a complex and satisfying dish. This makes brisket chili a fun and flavorful alternative for those looking to experiment with traditional chili recipes, offering a sumptuous and comforting meal especially suited for cold days or family gatherings.

Gather the ingredients for brisket chili

The major difference between brisket chili is the replacement of ground beef for brisket. The brisket should be cut into small cubes, ideally 1/2-inch in size. Along with the brisket will be some chopped thick-cut bacon. In the bacon grease, we'll saute onion and garlic. Next, a combination of chili powder, ground cumin, ground coriander, dried oregano, and cocoa powder will get toasted in the pot along with tomato paste. The bulk of the sauce will be made up of canned diced tomatoes, diced green chiles, and low-sodium chicken broth. The secret ingredient to get the smoky flavor is a combination of dried pasilla and ancho chiles. When soaked in hot water and blended, the chiles form a paste that is bursting with delicious, smoky pepper flavor.

Step 1: Heat the oven

Heat the oven to 325 F.

Step 2: Steep the chiles

Pour boiling water over the chiles. Set aside.

Step 3: Render the bacon

In a large heavy-bottomed pot, add the bacon over medium heat.

Step 4: Cook the bacon

Cook the bacon until browned, about 5 minutes. Remove and set aside.

Step 5: Brown the brisket

Add the brisket to the pot and brown on all sides, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from the pot and set aside.

Step 6: Sweat the onion

Add the onion to the pot and saute until softened, about 6 minutes.

Step 7: Sweat the garlic

Add the garlic and cook an additional minute.

Step 8: Toast spices

Add spices and toast with onions and garlic for an additional minute.

Step 9: Add tomato paste

Add tomato paste and stir until it starts to brown on the bottom of the pot.

Step 10: Puree chiles

Add the soaked chiles to a blender and puree with 1/2 cup soaking liquid.

Step 11: Add chile puree to pot

Pour the mixture into the pot, along with tomatoes, and chiles.

Step 12: Add beef broth, bacon, and brisket to pot

Add beef broth and stir in browned bacon and brisket.

Step 13: Cook the chili

Cover the pot and cook in the oven until the beef is tender and falls apart easily, about 2 hours.

Step 14: Serve

Serve with sour cream, sliced green onions, and cheese, if using.

Can I make this brisket chili recipe in a crock pot or slow cooker?

You can absolutely make this brisket chili recipe in a crock pot or slow cooker, and it's a fantastic way to let the flavors meld together while keeping the brisket wonderfully tender. To adapt the recipe for a slow cooker, first complete the initial steps up to and including browning the brisket on the stove. Once the brisket is browned and the onions, garlic, spices, and tomato paste are sautéed, transfer everything to your slow cooker. Add the pureed chiles, fire-roasted tomatoes, green chiles, and broth to the slow cooker as well. 

Set your crock pot to low and cook for approximately 6-8 hours, or on high for 3-4 hours. This method is perfect for those who prefer a set-it-and-forget-it approach and want to come home to a ready-to-eat, aromatic brisket chili.

How can I adjust the spice level in this brisket chili recipe to suit different preferences?

To adjust the spice level in this brisket chili recipe, you can easily modify the types and amounts of chiles and spices used. If you prefer a milder chili, consider reducing the quantity of chili powder and using milder chiles like ancho chiles, which are known for their deep, rich flavor without excessive heat. Alternatively, for a spicier chili, you can increase the amount of chili powder or add spicier chiles such as chipotles in adobo or even a few diced jalapeños. Remember, the seeds and membranes of chiles contain the most heat, so removing them can help tame the fire. 

For those who enjoy a more complex flavor profile, experimenting with additional spices like smoked paprika or a pinch of cayenne pepper can enhance the depth of flavor. It's always a good idea to start with less and gradually add more, tasting as you go, to reach the perfect balance of spice for your palate.

Smoky Brisket Chili Recipe
5 from 31 ratings
In this recipe, the brisket is simmered in the chili, infusing it with a hearty depth that contrasts balances with the spicy, tomato-based chili sauce.
Prep Time
20
minutes
Cook Time
2
hours
Servings
6
Servings
Bowl of brisket chili
Total time: 2 hours, 20 minutes
Ingredients
  • 6 dried ancho and Pasilla chiles, stemmed and seeded
  • 2 slices thick cut bacon, cut in small pieces
  • 2 ½ pounds brisket, cut in ½" inch cubes
  • 1 large white onion, finely chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • ¼ cup tomato paste
  • 28 ounce can fire roasted tomatoes
  • 1 small can Hatch chiles
  • 2 cups chicken or beef broth
Optional Ingredients
  • Sour cream, sliced green onions, and shredded Cheddar cheese
Directions
  1. Heat the oven to 325 F.
  2. Pour boiling water over the chiles. Set aside.
  3. In a large heavy-bottomed pot, add the bacon over medium heat.
  4. Cook the bacon until browned, about 5 minutes. Remove from the pot and set aside.
  5. Add the brisket to the pot and brown on all sides, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Remove and set aside.
  6. Add the onion to the pot and saute until softened, about 6 minutes.
  7. Add the garlic and cook an additional minute.
  8. Add spices and toast with onions and garlic for an additional minute.
  9. Add tomato paste and stir until it starts to brown on the bottom of the pot.
  10. Add the soaked chiles to a blender and puree with ½ cup soaking liquid.
  11. Pour the mixture into the pot, along with tomatoes, and chiles.
  12. Add beef broth and stir in browned bacon and brisket.
  13. Cover the pot and cook in the oven until the beef is tender and falls apart easily, about 2 hours.
  14. Serve with sour cream, sliced green onions, and cheese, if using.
Nutrition
Calories per Serving 673
Total Fat 47.9 g
Saturated Fat 18.5 g
Trans Fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 184.0 mg
Total Carbohydrates 21.6 g
Dietary Fiber 8.0 g
Total Sugars 6.8 g
Sodium 616.3 mg
Protein 41.1 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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