Smoky Beef Chili

Updated February 23, 2016
This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

What makes this chili the best of its kind is using my Homemade Chili Powder, ground from dried chilies. It gives this dish an enormous amount of flavor that builds from bite to bite. Make sure to have plenty of cold beer on hand, and serve corn tortillas and sliced cucumber and avocado alongside.

Makes8 to 10 servings

Cooking Methodbraising



Total Timeunder 4 hours

One Pot MealYes

OccasionFamily Get-together, game day

Recipe Coursemain course

Mealdinner, lunch


Taste and Textureherby, hot & spicy, meaty, smoky


  • 2 limes
  • 2 tablespoons masa harina 
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 pounds beef chuck roast: 2½ pounds cut into ½-inch cubes; 1½ pounds ground (ask your butcher to do this) finely chopped
  • ¼ pound slab bacon, cut into large chunks
  • 1 large onion, peeled and cut into large cubes
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon dried regular oregano or Mexican oregano (see note)
  • 1 tablespoon coarse sea salt or kosher salt
  • ¼ cup Homemade Chili Powder, or more to taste
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 5 large tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro


Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 300°F.

Grate the zest of 1 of the limes, then juice both limes. In a large bowl, combine 3 cups water, the masa harina, and the lime zest and juice.

Heat the olive oil in a medium cast-iron pot over high heat. Add the beef cubes and ground beef and sear until golden brown on all sides, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer the beef to a plate and wipe the inside of the pot clean with paper towels.

Lower the temperature to medium-high. Add the bacon to the pot and cook until it renders its fat, about 5 minutes. Add the onion, garlic, cumin, oregano, and salt and cook until the onions are softened, 10 to 12 minutes. Add the chili powder, stir to combine, and cook for 1 to 2 more minutes. Stir in the vinegar and Worcestershire sauce and bring to a simmer, scraping up any browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pot. Return the beef cubes and ground meat to the pot and add the tomatoes, bay leaf, and masa harina mixture. Bring to a simmer.

Cover the pot and transfer it to the oven to braise for 2 hours, stirring once or twice. Sprinkle with the cilantro leaves right before serving.



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