RECIPE: Texas Beef Brisket Chili

Texas Beef Brisket Chili


A cold-weather favorite, this all-beef, no-bean chili gets added appeal from a seasonal ingredient: butternut squash. For best results, make the chili at least one day ahead so that the flavors have time to meld.

[NOTE: I modified this recipe to offer both an oven-prepared version of brisket (orig. recipe) and what we did, which was to smoke the brisket in advance. The oven-baked version starts with ingredients in a pot on the stove, and then completes the cooking in the oven. The smoked version simply keeps the pot on the stove and begins stove cooking toward the end of the smoking time.]

Original Recipe by Bruce Aidells (some modifications made)
Bon Appetit Magazine – October 2008


6 large dried ancho chiles* (about 3 ounces), stemmed, seeded, coarsely torn
6 oz bacon, diced
1 1/4 pounds onions, chopped (about 4 cups)
1 5-pound flat-cut (also called first-cut) beef brisket, cut into 2 1/2- to 3-inch cubes – if prepared in a smoker, cut after cooking
Coarse kosher salt
6 large garlic cloves, peeled
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
15-ounce can fire-roasted diced tomatoes with green chiles (1 3/4 cups)
1 12-ounce bottle Mexican beer
1 7-ounce can diced roasted green chiles
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro stems
4 cups 1 1/2- to 2-inch chunks seeded peeled butternut or acorn squash (from 3 1/2-pound squash)

Fresh cilantro leaves
Diced avocado
Shredded Monterey Jack cheese
Warm corn and/or flour tortillas


1) Place chiles in medium bowl. Pour enough boiling water over to cover. Soak until chiles soften, at least 30 minutes and up to 4 hours.

[OVEN-BAKED BRISKET] Preheat oven to 350°F.
[SMOKER-COOKED BRISKET] Prep smoker with wood and start flame. Rub brisket down with course salt and course-ground pepper. Smoke brisket for 5-6 hours.

2) Sauté bacon in heavy large ovenproof pot over medium-high heat until beginning to brown. Add onions. Reduce heat to medium; cover and cook until tender, about 5 minutes.

[OVEN-BAKED BRISKET] Sprinkle beef all over with coarse salt and pepper. Add to pot; stir to coat. Set aside.

3) Drain chiles, reserving soaking liquid. Place chiles in blender. Add 1 cup soaking liquid, garlic, chili powder, cumin seeds, oregano, coriander, and 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt; blend to puree, adding more soaking liquid by 1/4 cupfuls if very thick.

[OVEN-BAKED BRISKET] Pour puree over brisket in pot.

4) Add tomatoes with juices, beer, green chiles, and cilantro stems. Stir to coat evenly.

5) Bring chili to simmer.

[OVEN-BAKED BRISKET] Cover and place in oven. Cook 2 hours. Uncover and cook until beef is almost tender, about 1 hour.

6) Add squash; stir to coat.

[SMOKER-COOKED BRISKET] Cut brisket into bite-sized cubes and add to the simmering pot. For this version, the pot stays on the stove, rather than being placed in the oven.

7) Cook uncovered until beef and squash are tender, adding more soaking liquid if needed to keep meat covered, about 45 minutes longer. Season chili to taste with salt and pepper. Tilt pot and spoon off any fat from surface of sauce.

DO AHEAD Can be made 2 days ahead. Cool 1 hour. Chill uncovered until cold, then cover and keep chilled.

Set out garnishes in separate dishes. Rewarm chili over low heat. Ladle chili into bowls and serve.

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