Spring Fling: Short Rib Chili

Spring is here, spring is here! Well… sort of. In between glorious bits of sunshine, it’s still a little chilly which makes chili the perfect choice for dinner!

We picked up some beautiful boneless short ribs the other day, but I’m mixing it 50/50 with beef stew meat for a slightly more budget-friendly meal. This spicy hearty chili is a great option for weekend camping trips too (we usually make chili ahead of time and then reheat it in cast iron). And let me just say, these pictures may not be great, but the chili was amazing (seal of approval from The Boyfriend too).

For this recipe, you will need:
crockpot/slow cooker
non-stick pan
blender

Ingredients: 
~ 1.25 lb boneless beef short ribs
1 lb beef stew meat
2 cans (14.5oz) diced tomatoes
1 can (16oz) black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can (7oz) chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
1.5 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 clove elephant garlic (or 3-5 cloves garlic)
3 dried chili peppers
2 tsp extra dark cocoa powder
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1-2 tsp avocado oil (olive or coconut is fine)

Seasoning: 
4 tsp ancho chili powder
2 tsp oregano
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp salt / to taste

Add one can of diced tomatoes and liquid to the crockpot. With the other can of diced tomatoes, drain the liquid first (do not rinse) and add to the pot. Drain and rinse beans until water runs clear, add beans to the crockpot. Remove stems and seeds from dried chili peppers and combine in blender cup with one full can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. Blend pepper mixture for about one minute or until it resembles a uniform paste and add to the crockpot. Add 2 tsp extra dark cocoa powder, 2 tsp salt, and 2 tsp ancho chili powder to the crockpot mix.

Using a sharp knife, finely chop elephant garlic clove (also called elephant toes) or 3-5 cloves normal-sized garlic. Set aside in a bowl with the chopped onion. Add 2 tsp each of oregano, cumin, and ancho chili powder to the onions and garlic.

One clove of elephant garlic vs a whole head of "regular" garlic

One clove of elephant garlic vs. a whole head of “regular” garlic

Pre-heat oil in a non-stick pan on high-heat. While the pan is heating up, dice the ribs and stew meat into ~1/2 cubes – they do not at all have to be uniform in shape, just similar in size. You want the pieces to be small enough that they are “bite size” but big enough that they can still be shredded later on. Add meat to the pan, in batches if necessary, and cook for 3-5 minutes on one side only to sear the meat and lock in some flavor. Add all of the meat to the crockpot.

In the same pan, add the onion-garlic-spice mixture and cook on medium heat for 3-5 minutes until fragrant and the onions have softened slightly. Add this to the crockpot.

Add 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar, stir to mix everything together, and set crockpot on low for 7-9 hours. If you don’t want to wait that long, try cooking on high for 3-5 hours checking periodically to make sure it doesn’t burn. If you find that the chili has let off a lot of liquid, you can crack the lid a little bit to let some of the liquid evaporate. I personally prefer a thicker chili (as opposed to more liquid) so we usually crack the lid for half the cooking time.

IMG_20150322_034956

Serve immediately – as is, with chopped raw onion on top, with guacamole, or with grilled veggies.

Store in the fridge up to three days.

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Cheatin’ on Chipotle: Beef Barbacoa

The barbacoa at Chipotle is a thing of beauty. Other than the new Bonfire Bowls at Baja Fresh, Chipotle’s barbacoa is by far my most frequent craving for a slow carb meal when we’re out and about. Now, The Boyfriend and I fully appreciate Chipotle’s more natural approach to feeding the masses, but sometimes we just don’t want to pay extra for guacamole.. or wait in line. You might have to wait all day for this homemade take on your favorite burrito bowl, but it will feed you all week without actually having to eat the same meal twice (see suggested pairings below).

Ingredients: 
~ 6 lbs boneless chuck short ribs (or equivalent)
2 yellow onions, halved
7 oz chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (1 can)
2 dried red chilis
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup chicken stock
2 tsp True Lime crystals (or 4 tbsp fresh lime juice)
~ 3 tbsp vegetable oil, for searing
1 small bunch radishes, thinly sliced (optional, for garnish)

Seasoning: 
3 tsp cumin
2 tsp oregano
1 tsp salt
1 tsp celery salt
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp cayenne

Appliances/Special Equipment: 
Blender or food processor
Slow Cooker

Dig in!

Dig in!

Slice onions into thin half-moons and place at the bottom of the crock pot (in theory, this step is completely optional, but I love onions and think they add great flavor to this dish). If you don’t want to use onions, add 1 tsp of onion powder or granulated onion to the blender sauce (further instructions below).

Rinse meat under cold water and pat dry. Trim about 40% of the fat off – leaving enough to render down in the crock-pot, but not so much that the meat won’t sear. Cut the chuck into smaller pieces – I ended up with about 10 total – this will make it a bit easier to fit everything in the slow cooker as well as increasing surface area available for searing (a must-do step to lock in all that great flavor).

Heat oil in a large pot or pan over medium heat. Sear each piece of meat until golden brown (1-2 minutes per side) and for a few seconds on each edge. Add to the slow cooker.

In your blender or food processor, combine: apple cider vinegar, chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, True Lime crystals (or lime juice), dried peppers, and all seasoning/herbs/spices. Blend until smooth. Note: If you have a mortar and pestle, I’d recommend crushing up the dried peppers and discarding the seeds before adding them to the blender. Add blended sauce and 1 cup chicken stock to the slow cooker and mix gently, coating as much of the meat as possible with the sauce (my crock pot was pretty damn full at this point so it was a bit of a challenge, but I did what I could).

Set crock pot on high for 6+ hours or on low for 10+, stirring occasionally (and to make sure that any pieces of meat sticking up out of the liquid do not dry out or burn). We actually went out in the middle of making this dish, so I had it on high while I was home for about five hours and then set it on low for an additional four hours (nine hours total) and it came out perfect.

When meat is fork-tender and falling apart, remove meat and onions from the crock pot to a scratch-resistant bowl. Add about 1/2 cup liquid from the slow cooker back to the barbacoa and, using two forks, shred the meat. Adding some liquid back to the barbacoa will keep the meat moist and will also help keep it alive in the fridge a little longer.

Serve immediately: with a few thin slices of radish for a nice little crunch, with lettuce leaves for “green tacos,” or however you choose! Leftovers can be refrigerated up to 5 days.

Suggested Pairings: 
Nice Rice: Cauliflower
Busy Black Bean Soup (recipe coming soon!)
Holy Crap! Garlic Soup
Perfect ‘Stachio Guac