Sunday, November 16, 2014

Short Rib Boeuf Bourguignon Chili

 short rib BOEUF BOURGUIGNON chili // un ragoût TEX-MEXICAIN

Last weekend, I took part in my first ever chili cook-off.  My first cooking competition ever, really.  Garrett's the big chili maker between the two of us, but I quickly commandeered the process as soon as my wheels started turning in the direction of frenchifying the thing.  This didn't start as a boeuf bourguignon fusion project, and, in fact, I've never tried to make boeuf bourguignon, so I had no frame of reference for the dish besides a general understanding that it was beef braised in alcohol.  It was only after the fact that I realized by adding Tex-Mex ingredients to red wine braised beef we had concocted something Tex-Mexicaine.

So before I tell you more, let's start with a few honest confessions.  First, the chili took second place.  Tied for second place.  As an excuse, the winning chili was a really well done, but traditional recipe and I think when the masses speak, they speak for tradition.   Second, if you've never braised you ought to know it takes hours, so this is by no means your everyday chili.  But if you take it to your next chili cook-off and get good results, please, let me know.  Third, and again, if you've never braised before, prepare for the fat.  You can really remove quite a bit of the fat at the end of the cooking process, but you're going to be dealing with a lot of it.  And it's going to be delicious, as a result.

Back to the flavor, because despite those confessions I think this recipe is awesome and worth the effort.  The base flavor is smoky, and it would be worth it to go to a good butcher to get thick cut smoked bacon (in other words, avoid the packaged bacon at the grocery store).  In the next layer the red wine comes through, so make sure to use a French pinot noir (this does not need to be an expensive bottle, but does need to be French).  Finally, right in at the top you get the Mexican ingredients - the poblano, jalapeño, and spices.  Of course, the end result is rich with all that smoky winey-ness, so top it with freshly chopped onions and some cheese, but no need for sour cream.  

If you have the time, patience, and wherewithal, give it a try and tell me what you think.


  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 lbs. boneless short ribs (ask your butcher for the inner, boneless cut)
  • 1/2 lb. thick cut smoked bacon, diced
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 poblano peppers, roasted and chopped
  • 3 celery ribs, finely chopped
  • 2 large carrots, finely chopped
  • 2 large cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 large jalapeño, finely chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp. salt
  • 1 tbsp. dried mexican oregano
  • 1 tbsp. mexican chili powder
  • 1 tsp. coriander
  • 1 cup french red wine (like pinot noir)
  • 2 large cans (56 oz.) whole stewed tomatoes
  • 2 cups stock (beef, chicken, or vegetable)
  • 1 small can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 small can of red beans, drained and rinsed
  • additional salt and pepper for seasoning
  • grated sharp cheddar and diced onions for garnish

  1. Prep all your vegetables before you begin.  Use a food processor to finely chop the onions, celery, and carrots separately.  The garlic and jalapeño can be chopped together.
  2. Roast the poblanos right on the grates of a gas stove top, or under the oven's broiler.  Once blackened, cool and rinse of the skin under cold water.  De-seed and chop, mix with the chopped onions.  
  3. Cut the slab of short ribs into 2-inch wide pieces, and season well with salt and pepper.  Heat 1 tbsp. olive oil in a large dutch oven or pot, and brown each side of the short ribs for about 3-4 minutes over high heat (until crispy and golden).  Remove from pot and set aside. 
  4. Add the diced bacon to the pot and fry until crispy.  Spoon out all but 1 tbsp. of the fat from the pot before adding the vegetables (I removed about 1/4 cup of fat!).  
  5. Now add the onions, poblanos, celery, and carrots to the pot.  Season with 1 tbsp. salt and cook over medium heat until softened, about 7 minutes.  
  6. Add the garlic, jalapeños, bay leaves, and remaining spices to cook for an additional three minutes.  Then add the red wine and simmer for another 3 minutes.
  7. Crush the tomatoes up by hand before adding them, with the juice, to the pot.  Bring the whole thing to a good simmer, and finally, add the short ribs back to the pot.  
  8. Bring the oven to 300 degrees, cover the pot and braise it in the oven for at least 3 hours.  If the liquid seems to be reducing too quickly, add 1-2 cups of stock throughout the braising.  You can also skim some of the fat from the top as it braises. 
  9. The braising is complete when the short ribs fall apart easily with a fork.  Remove the meat from the tougher pieces of fat (which can be discarded).  Stir in the beans and season with salt to finish.  

Visual Guide:

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