Chili Colorado Recipe

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Chili Colorado Recipe



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Chili Colorado, a traditional Mexican dish, is a rich and savory stew made primarily with tender beef and a flavorful red chili sauce. Unlike its more famous cousin, Chili con Carne, Chili Colorado focuses more on the depth of the chili flavor rather than the addition of beans or other fillers. This dish is perfect for anyone looking to explore the heart of Mexican cuisine.

Here, we present a classic recipe for creating this comforting and hearty dish at home.


2 lbs beef chuck, cut into 1-inch cubes
3-4 dried Ancho chiles
2-3 dried Guajillo chiles
1-2 dried Arbol chiles (optional, for extra heat)
4 cups beef broth
1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried oregano (preferably Mexican)
1 tsp smoked paprika
Salt and pepper, to taste
Vegetable oil, for browning the beef
Fresh cilantro, chopped (for garnish)
Lime wedges, for serving


Preparation of Chiles: Start by preparing the dried chiles. Remove the stems and seeds from the Ancho, Guajillo, and Arbol chiles. Toast them lightly in a dry skillet over medium heat until they become fragrant. Be careful not to burn them. Once toasted, place them in a bowl and cover with hot water. Let them soak for about 30 minutes to rehydrate.

Blend the Chiles: Once the chiles are rehydrated, drain them and place them in a blender. Add about 1 cup of fresh water or beef broth and blend until smooth. Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve to remove any skins and set the chili paste aside.

Brown the Beef: In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat a couple of tablespoons of vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Season the beef chunks with salt and pepper, and brown them in batches to avoid crowding the pot. Remove the beef and set aside.

Sauté Vegetables: In the same pot, reduce the heat to medium. Add the chopped onion and minced garlic, cooking until they are translucent and fragrant.

Combine and Simmer: Return the browned beef to the pot with the onions and garlic. Stir in the prepared chili paste, beef broth, cumin, oregano, and smoked paprika. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, for about 2-3 hours, or until the beef is very tender.

Final Adjustments: Taste and adjust the seasoning with additional salt, pepper, or spices as needed. The consistency should be like a hearty stew; if it’s too thick, add more broth.

Serve: Serve your Chili Colorado garnished with chopped fresh cilantro and lime wedges on the side. It pairs wonderfully with warm tortillas, rice, or beans.

Chili Colorado is more than just a meal; it’s a celebration of rich flavors and traditional cooking methods. The key to this dish lies in the quality of the dried chiles and the slow cooking process, which together develop a depth of flavor that is hard to match. Whether you’re looking to expand your culinary skills or simply want a warm, comforting meal, this Chili Colorado recipe is sure to satisfy. Enjoy the tastes of Mexico from the comfort of your own kitchen!

Tips and Variations:

Choice of Meat: While beef chuck is traditional and favored for its fat content and tenderness, you can also use other cuts like brisket or even pork for a different twist.

Homemade Beef Broth: For an even richer flavor, consider using homemade beef broth. It adds depth and enhances the overall taste of the dish.

Slow Cooker Option: Chili Colorado can also be made in a slow cooker. After browning the beef and making the chili sauce, combine all ingredients in the slow cooker and cook on low for 6-8 hours.

Spiciness Adjustment: The heat level of Chili Colorado can easily be adjusted. For a milder version, reduce or omit the Arbol chiles. For a spicier stew, add more Arbol chiles or include some of the seeds when blending.

Thickening the Sauce: If you find the sauce too thin after cooking, you can thicken it with a little cornstarch slurry (mix equal parts cornstarch and water, then stir into the stew).

Serving Suggestions: Aside from the traditional accompaniments like rice, tortillas, and beans, Chili Colorado can also be served over mashed potatoes or used as a filling for burritos or enchiladas.

Storing and Reheating: This dish tastes even better the next day as the flavors meld together. It can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days and reheated on the stove or in the microwave. Chili Colorado also freezes well for up to 3 months.

Healthier Version: For a healthier take, you can use a leaner cut of beef and skim off any excess fat that rises to the surface during cooking.

Garnishing Options: Besides cilantro and lime, consider garnishing with diced avocado, chopped green onions, or a dollop of sour cream to add a creamy texture.

Experiment with Chiles: Don’t be afraid to experiment with different types of dried chiles available at your local Mexican grocer. Each variety adds its unique flavor and heat level.

Mastering this Chili Colorado recipe can open doors to a new appreciation for traditional Mexican cuisine. Its versatility makes it a perfect dish for a family dinner, a cozy weekend meal, or a special occasion. The rich and hearty flavors are sure to impress, and the simplicity of the recipe ensures that cooks of all levels can enjoy making and eating this delicious stew. So, gather your ingredients and let your culinary journey to the heart of Mexico begin with this delightful Chili Colorado!

Frequently Asked Questions About Chili Colorado

What is the difference between Chili Colorado and Chili Con Carne?

Chili Colorado focuses on the deep, rich flavor of the chili peppers and usually uses beef as the main protein. It does not typically include beans or tomatoes. In contrast, Chili Con Carne often includes beans, tomatoes, and a variety of meats, with a broader range of spices.

Can I use ground beef instead of beef chunks?

Yes, you can use ground beef, but the texture and flavor will be different. Beef chunks provide a more traditional and hearty texture, but ground beef can be a quicker and equally tasty alternative.

How do I make my Chili Colorado spicier or milder?

To adjust the spiciness, play with the type and amount of chiles. For milder chili, use fewer Arbol chiles or omit them. For a spicier dish, increase the number of Arbol chiles, or add some of their seeds to the blend.

Is Chili Colorado gluten-free?

This recipe can be gluten-free as long as you ensure that all your ingredients, especially the beef broth, are free from gluten. Always check labels if you’re cooking for someone with gluten sensitivity.

Can I prepare Chili Colorado in advance?

Absolutely! Chili Colorado tastes even better the next day as the flavors have more time to meld together. Just refrigerate and reheat when ready to serve.

How do I thicken my Chili Colorado?

If your Chili Colorado is too thin, you can thicken it by making a cornstarch slurry (equal parts cornstarch and water mixed together) and stirring it into the stew. Let it simmer for a few more minutes to reach the desired consistency.

Can Chili Colorado be frozen?

Yes, Chili Colorado freezes very well. Let it cool completely, then store it in airtight containers or freezer bags. It can be frozen for up to 3 months.

What are some common sides to serve with Chili Colorado?

Common sides include warm flour or corn tortillas, Mexican-style rice, refried beans, or a simple salad. It’s also great over mashed potatoes or used as a filling for burritos and enchiladas.

Can I make Chili Colorado in an Instant Pot or pressure cooker?

Yes, you can make Chili Colorado in an Instant Pot or pressure cooker. It will significantly reduce the cooking time while still yielding tender beef and rich flavors.

Is it necessary to use all three types of chiles in the recipe?

While using all three types of chiles provides a complex flavor, you can adjust according to availability and taste preference. Ancho chiles are essential for their mild and sweet flavor, but the others can be substituted or omitted based on your heat tolerance and flavor preference.

By addressing these FAQs, you can confidently cook and enjoy a traditional Mexican dish that offers rich and robust flavors, perfect for any occasion.


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