Chili is the one-pot wonder that can't be beat. Its warm, spicy flavors that hit you in the back of your throat are exactly what we crave in the wintertime.
And while there are an infinite amount of chili recipes, this one combines some of our favorite flavors: ancho chiles, dark beer, pancetta and extra-dark chocolate. Serve a big pot with a load of fixings, and boom, you've got a chili bar for your guests to serve themselves. What could be easier?
To learn more, read "The Whole Nine Yards."
Beef Chili with Pancetta, Ancho and Chocolate
Recipe from the Tasting Table Test Kitchen
Yield: 8 to 10 servings
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours and 15 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours and 45 minutes
2 ancho chiles—stemmed, seeded and crumbled
¼ pound pancetta, finely chopped (about ½ cup)
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 pounds ground beef chuck
Kosher salt, to taste
2 large yellow onions, finely chopped (about 3 cups)
1 green bell pepper, finely chopped (about 1¼ cups)
4 garlic cloves, minced (2 tablespoons)
3 tablespoons red chile powder
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 bay leaf
¼ cup tomato paste
2 teaspoons dark brown sugar
One 12-ounce bottle dark beer (such as Negra Modelo)
Two 15-ounce cans pinto beans, drained
One 14-ounce can crushed tomatoes
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
Sliced avocado, cilantro, pickled jalapeños, grated cheddar, diced white onion, lime slices and sour cream for serving
1. Place the dried chiles in a bowl and pour 1 cup of boiling water over them. Let the chiles soak for 10 minutes. Transfer them to a blender and purée until smooth; set aside.
2. In a large heavy-bottomed 6-quart pot or a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, add the pancetta and cook, stirring often, until the fat has rendered and the pancetta is crisp, 4 to 6 minutes. Remove the pancetta and transfer to a bowl.
3. Add the oil and increase the heat to high. Working in two batches, brown the beef, breaking it up using a wooden spoon, 2 to 3 minutes per batch. Remove the meat using a slotted spoon and transfer to the bowl with the pancetta.
4. Reduce the heat to medium high. Add the onions and pepper to the pot. Season with salt and cook, stirring often, until soft, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the garlic, chile powder, oregano, black pepper, cayenne and bay leaf and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until the pot is very fragrant from the spices. Add the tomato paste and reserved meat and pancetta and cook for an additional 10 minutes. Add the reserved ancho chile purée, brown sugar, beer, beans, crushed tomatoes and chocolate and simmer over medium low heat for 1 hour and 15 minutes to 1½ hours, or until the flavors have melded together. Stir in the vinegar. Taste and adjust the seasoning as necessary. Serve the chili hot with avocado, cilantro, pickled jalapeños, cheddar, onion, lime and sour cream. Make ahead: Chili can be made 2 days ahead, then covered and chilled. Rewarm over low heat.