Baja Chile con Carne

By: rick hammond

Servings: 8-10

4 lbs grass-fed stew beef, 1 1/2″ cubes
3 lbs sweet onions, 1/2″ dice
3 heads garlic
3 lbs roasted red peppers, (4) 12oz jars
3 medium yams, peeled, 1″ dice
3 limes, juiced
1 qt no-sodium beef broth
1/2 C Penzey’s chili powder (hot or mild)
1/2 C lard
1/4 C refined coconut oil (not EV)
3 Tbsp cocoa powder
1/2 tsp ground Ceylon cinnamon (canela)
Coarse sea salt and kosher salt to taste
Whole cloves, orange peels (optional)

1 bunch cilantro, washed and spun dry
2 large white onions
Jalapeno, Serrano or Habanero chiles (optional)
Kosher salt and raw honey to taste

Instructions: Place the beef broth in a 3 qt saucepan
with a few whole cloves and the orange peel if desired and simmer gently until reduced to 1 cup.  Strain and reserve.

Pre-heat the oven to 350F and slice the tops off the three garlic heads, place them cut-side down on a sheet of foil with a couple teaspoons of the coconut oil.  Wrap the foil into a purse and place on the middle rack, roasting the garlic for 50-60 minutes until well browned but not burned.

Place cold water about half-way up a 3 qt saucepan, add a large handful of kosher salt and place over medium-high heat.  Add the diced yams and when the pot comes to a boil reduce the heat and simmer for 5-6 minutes just until the yams are barely tender to the point of a sharp knife.  Dump the saucepan into a colander in the sink and allow the yams to drain.

Meanwhile, dry the beef of excess liquid on paper towels and heat the lard in a large dutch oven over medium heat.  Season the beef lightly with sea salt and black pepper.  Brown the meat on all sides in batches until well caramelized, removing the browned pieces to a large bowl as you go.

When all the beef is browned, add the remaining coconut oil to the dutch oven and saute the drained yams over medium to medium high heat until browned well.  Remove the yams with a slotted spoon and add them to the bowl with the beef cubes.

Lower the heat to medium low and add the diced onions, stirring often and let the onions carmelize until well browned.  Squeeze the roasted garlic from each head into the pan and add the chili powder.  Stir vigorously to break up the garlic and keep the chili powder from burning (the spices should gently fry in the fat just until fragrant).

Stir in the cocoa powder and canela, raise the heat to medium and stir for just another minute or two, seasoning with a little more sea salt at this point.

*Pre-heat the oven to 170F if possible.

Add the roasted peppers with their juices and raise the heat allowing the liquid to reduce by half, stirring occasionally.  Check the seasoning and add a little more sea salt if needed, add the beef broth and return the beef and yams to the pot and add 2/3 of the lime juice, stirring well.

Cover the dutch oven with its heavy lid and place on the middle rack and braise the chile for 6-8 hours minimum or even overnight; the longer, the better the flavor and the more tender the beef.

If you can set your oven down to 145-150F you may let the chile braise for a day or day and a half even.

Serve in heated bowls, passing the garnish around to each guest.

*If you have a gas oven that won’t go to 170 or below, transfer the entire contents into a large crockpot set for the lowest possible simmering temp.

Notes: To make the garnish, dice the onion and wash 3x’s in cold water breaking up the onion layers with your fingers.  Drain and dry the onions in a salad spinner and place them in an attractive serving bowl.  Chop the cleaned cilantro and add to the bowl with some kosher salt to taste and the remaining lime juice.  You may add raw chopped chiles or chopped roasted chiles (blackened in a cast iron skillet) in any amount you desire but balance the heat with some raw honey to taste…

Categories: Chili Contest


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  1. says

    Thanks Amy, appreciate it!

    BTW for anyone trying or testing this recipe, the Penzey brand chili powder (available via and various retail locations) is my preferred brand because it is made from authentic Mexican ingredients: ground chile ancho, cumin, Mexican oregano, allspice, black pepper and cloves. Other chili powders contain silicon dioxide, powdered garlic, powdered onion, the wrong kind of oregano and no allspice or cloves, so please use the real stuff as it makes a big difference imo, either Penzey’s or any brand that uses those preferred ingredients…

    Buen provecho,

    Chef Rick

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