Chili in dutch oven
I heard about this recipe on America’s Test Kitchen on my way to work, and had to try it. When they spoke of ground beef that sat there and steamed, rather than browned, I knew exactly what they were talking about.
Although this recipe was delicious, for me, two take-aways from this recipe are:
- You can add salt and baking soda to your ground beef for a better texture and a better brown.
- Chuck is chuck, and if you use it, you still need to cook it low and slow for a long time to break down the protein and collagen.
My main dutch oven is an outdoor style (not sure about the exact term) with the legs and rim on the lid for coals, so initially I was going to do it outside with charcoal. Life being what it is, I ended up doing it inside on a rack in our oven, and it came out great.
This recipe had the consistency of Hormel chili, but with much more flavor. I say that as a compliment, because Hormel chili is a comfort food from my childhood, so no disrespect. I tried to follow the recipe as closely as possible. However, I used the dried El Guapo chiles I had on hand, and it came out fine.
My wife, who is much more sensitive to meat texture, really liked this method too, even though she is generally not a fan of the smokey chipotle flavors that this recipe brings out.
We served it taco salad style with fresh cilantro and lime, and it came out great. Finishing this post makes me want to make it again.
I tried using this technique from memory with a marinara (does that make it bolognese?), and forgot about my own take-away that “chuck is chuck”. I left out the low and slow part, and ended up with nicely sized pieces of ground beef that were, uh, challenging. You have been warned.