It seemed like it was going to be a pretty boring winter, weather-wise, here in North Carolina. December and January were mild and totally unremarkable. The meteorologists started predicting that this would be one of those fairly common southern winters, where we wouldn’t see a speck of snow, ice or sleet.
Boy, were they ever wrong!
Things took a major turn about 3 weeks ago, and suddenly, winter arrived in full force! The month of February was one crazy storm after another; lots of snow, sleet and icy mornings. In the middle of one of the storms, school was canceled for an entire week. The poor kids (and, even more so, the teachers) will be making up snow days till the cows come home!
I know many of you, in other parts of the U.S. (and beyond), have had an infinitely tougher winter than us weather-puppies in the south. Nevertheless, I think we’ll all appreciate the warm, gentle winds of spring this year, that’s for sure! But we’ve got a little ways to go, and one good thing about that is – it’s still soup and chili season! I’ve got a few winners for you before we wind up the season and this Beef and Bacon Chili is tops on the list.
It’s loaded with melt-in-your-mouth tender beef, smokey bacon and soft, creamy pinto beans. Canned tomatoes, a healthy dose of lager beer, a spoonful of brown sugar and lots of herbs and spices, including Ancho chili powder*, combine to add delicious depth of flavor.
I used a R.G. Shipley Signature Beef™ pot roast for my chili. It was lean, yet beautifully marbleized. The results were fantastic! R.G. Shipley Signature Beef™ comes from a multigenerational farm located in the beautiful mountains of North Carolina.
Shipley cows are pasture raised with no added hormones or antibiotics, and the beef is dry-aged, producing tender meat with consistent great flavor. If you’d like to learn more about R.G. Shipley Signature Beef™, or visit their online store where you can order your own fabulous farm-to-table steaks, roasts, ground beef, etc, click here.
I used one of my favorite techniques for developing deep layers of flavor, which involves browning the meat while slowly adding small increments of the lager beer. Each addition of the lager is simmered down until it pretty much disappears. This process produces deep, mahogany hued beef as the base for the soup. The remaining ingredients are added, and then the chili takes a long slow simmer on the stovetop. Wait till you smell the delicious, intoxicating aroma that fills your kitchen!
You can keep the topping really simple, just adding a dollop of sour cream or Greek yogurt or you can really have some fun, like I did. I made a batch of my Avocado Crema and, while the chili simmered, I threw a pan into the oven with pumpkin seeds (pepitas), olive oil, chili powder, sea salt, fresh lime juice and a squeeze of honey. It took less than 20 minutes to transform the plain-jane seeds into a super addictive treat and chili topping. These Chili Lime Pepitas are also great for snacking and as a salad topping.
So enjoy these last weeks of winter with The Café’s Beef and Bacon Chili.
It won’t be long till green shoots are sprouting everywhere, blossoms cover the barren branches and warm balmy breezes caress your face. Then we’ll be into fresh salads, spring produce and strawberries but until then, savor the season!
Disclosure: We were given samples of R.G. Shipley Signature Beef™, but have not been monetarily compensated for this post. All opinions are entirely ours.
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- 1 ½ pounds boneless beef pot roast** cut into ½” pieces
- 2 teaspoons Ancho chili powder* the Ancho adds a wonderful flavor but use regular chili powder if you can't find or don't have the Ancho
- 1 teaspoon mild paprika
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ⅛ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 4 thick cut slices applewood smoked bacon diced in 1/2 inch piecesor other smokey bacon
- 1 12- oz. bottle lager beer
- 1 large onion finely chopped
- 4 garlic cloves minced
- 2 teaspoons teaspoon dried oregano
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 14.5 ounce diced fire-roasted canned tomatoes puréed
- 2 15 ounce cans pinto beans
- 2 cups low sodium beef broth
- For the chili lime pepitas:
- 1/2 cup pepitas
- 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
- 1/4 teaspoon ancho chile powder more to taste
- ½ teaspoons honey
- 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt more to taste
- Dice beef into 1/2 inch cubes and place in a medium size bowl. Combine chili powder, paprika, salt and pepper. Sprinkle mixture over meat. Massage with your hand for about 1 minute then set aside.
- In a large, heavy Dutch oven or stockpot over medium heat, cook bacon till golden and crisp. Remove bacon and set aside. Remove all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat from the pan and discard or save for another use.
- Increase heat to medium high. When bacon fat is shimmering hot, add beef and spread out to a single layer. Allow to cook, undisturbed for 4-5 minutes or until bottom surface of meat is beginning to turn golden. Stir and continue to cook, stirring occasionally until all liquid from beef has evaporated and beef looks somewhat dry. Watch closely at this point because you want all the liquid to be absorbed but you don't want the meet to burn.
- Reduce heat to medium and add beer, about 1/4 cup at a time, stir after each addition and cook until beer has completely been absorbed. It will take 4-5 minutes in between each addition of beer. Stir frequently during this stage. By the time you've added all the beer, beef should be a deep, beautiful mahogany color.
- Add the onion and stir well. Continue to cook for 3-4 minutes or until onion looks somewhat translucent. Add garlic cumin, oregano and basil and cook for another minute.
- Add tomatoes, beans, reserved bacon and broth. Bring chili to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to maintain a low simmer. Cook for 45-55 minutes or until beef is very tender.
- While chili is simmering, prepare Chili Lime Pepitas, preheat oven to 350˚F. Line a sheet pan with foil for easy clean up. Combine pepitas, chili powder, lime juice, honey and oil on prepared pan. Stir well to combine. Roast in oven, stirring every 5 minutes, till golden and slightly puffed, about 15 minutes.
- Serve chili with a dollop of Avocado Crema and a scatter of Chili Lime Pepitas.
* Ancho peppers are the dried version of Poblano peppers. Their flavor is a little sweet and some say "raisin-like", with medium heat.
** I used a beef shoulder roast, but a chuck roast will also work.