Braised Beef Chili
Yeeeee-haw! OK, now that we've gotten that out of our systems, we believe in our hearts that there isn't anything better on a cool fall day than real, down-home, Texas-style chili. What that means is good beef, cooked low and slow, with lots of peppers and tomatoes. Beans on the side, please.
Our chili starts with a boneless chuck roast, rubs it, sears it on a hot grill, then braises it in stock and vegetables for a couple of hours. On the grill....
If you use a gas grill, this isn't a difficult process — you just have to utilize the temperature knob! If you use a charcoal grill, you will need to improvise a heat deflector (see our sidebar on Grilling 101/Braising for more information). Either way, you will need a large, heavy pot with a tight fitting lid, one that you can dedicate to use on the grill and that you won't mind giving a few (more-or-less permanent) smoke stains.
1 2-3 lb boneless chuck roast
1 Tbs GirlsonaGrill Cajun Rub
1 tsp cumin
2 Tbs brown sugar
1 tsp chipotle pepper flakes
1 large sweet onion, rough chop
1 sweet red pepper, rough chop
3 plum tomatoes, rough chop
3 Tbs flat-leaf parsley, rough chop
2 cloves garlic, pressed
Liquid for braise:
2 cups water with
3 Tbs Better Than Boullion Beef Stock, dissolved
1 cup beer (we like Abita Amber or Corona)
2 Tbs molasses
1/2 small can tomato paste
3 Tbs masa harina (latin-style corn flour)
Remove the roast from the fridge, and massage in the rub mix very well. Allow it to warm up while you get the grill started. You will begin with a medium-hot modified two-level fire (all the coals to one side, and no coals on the other side) so that you will later be able to cool the fire down and grill at about 250 degrees for several hours.
Sear the roast over the hot fire until it browns, but be careful and watch it closely because there is sugar in the rub, and it burns quickly. When the roast is browned on all sides, removed it from the grill, put in in the large pot and add the vegetables. Then, pour the liquid over it, and close the lid. Meanwhile, remove the grate, add the heat deflector, put the grate back, and put the pot on the grate. Shut down the vents about 3/4 of the way. Put a grill thermometer on the grill, and close the lid. Check occasionally to see if the grill temp has dropped to 250 degrees — if it's hotter, shut the vents a little more; if it's cooler, open up the vents a little bit. Try to maintain a constant 250 degrees without opening the lid very much (you will lose heat every time you do.) You will have to add charcoal every hour or so to maintain the heat.
You will cook the roast about an hour-and-a-half for every pound - and it will take 3-4 hours, minimum, until the roast is fork tender and falls apart if you stick a fork into it and try to lift it out of the pot. When it's done, take it inside to the stove to finish it off.
Remove the vegetables to a blender or food processor, and process until smooth. Remove the roast from the pot and shred or chop the meat, taking off any large fat deposits as you go. Bring the juice to a simmer and add the processed vegetables, molasses, tomato paste and masa harina, bringing the mixture to a boil. Immediately turn off the heat and add the shredded/chopped meat. Stir in well.
Serve with warm tortillias and beans on the side. Additions could include sour cream, sliced green onions, and guacamole. Ole'!
The method starts with searing the meat at high temperature, then cooking it on low for several hours until the fat and connective tissue breaks down. That's why this technique ALWAYS uses tough, stringy cuts of meat like brisket, shoulder, chuck, etc.
Make sure that you use a stock or juice that is highly flavored — the juce from the meat will dilute the taste.