This short rib chili recipe is made with luxuriously rich braised beef and is easy to make on the stovetop or in the slow cooker. It’s the best.
This short rib chili recipe from Tyler Florence is, admittedly, a little elaborate as far as chili recipes go. It calls for a pricey cut of beef, several kinds of chiles and chili powders, and even a touch of chocolate to smooth all the sharp and complex edges. And it’s worth every last cent. Bear in mind, it takes a while for short ribs to turn tender, but once they do, it’s nearly impossible to overcook them, so there’s no rush. Spoon the chili over pasta, potatoes, rice, tortilla chips, whatever you please.–Renee Schettler Rossi
Short Rib Chili
- 5-quart or larger slow cooker (if following the slow cooker method)
- 4 to 5 pounds square-cut, bone-in short ribs
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons cumin seeds
- 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
- 1/4 cup homemade chili powder
- 2 tablespoons sweet paprika
- 2 tablespoons salt
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano preferably Mexican
- 1 tablespoon granulated or light brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 onions chopped (about 2 cups)
- 4 cloves garlic minced (about 1 heaping tablespoon)
- 1 jalapeño chile stemmed and chopped
- 3 canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce chopped
- One can whole peeled tomatoes with their juice
- 1 tablespoon store-bought or homemade tomato paste
- 1 ounce dark chocolate preferably Mexican chocolate
- 2 tablespoons masa harina (optional)
- Chopped white onion (optional)
- Chopped cilantro (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 325°F (160°C) or select a slow-cooker large enough for the ribs (a 5-quart or larger should work fine).
- Season the short ribs quite generously with salt and pepper and let rest at room temperature.
- Toast the cumin seeds in a dry skillet over medium heat, shaking the skillet occasionally to prevent scorching, until fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Immediately transfer the toasted spices to a spice grinder. Repeat with the coriander seeds. Grind until the spices turn into a fine powder. Dump the spices into a bowl, add the chili powder, paprika, salt, oregano, and sugar, and mix well.
- Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat and sear the short ribs on all sides. Grab some tongs and transfer the ribs to a plate. Pour or spoon off some of the fat from the Dutch oven. Add the onions, garlic, and jalapeño to the fat that remains in the Dutch oven and cook, stirring and scraping the bottom, until the onions have softened and turned translucent. Lower the heat to medium-low. Add the spice mix and the chipotle in adobo and stir to combine. Add the canned tomatoes, tomato paste, and chocolate and use a wooden spoon or potato masher to break up the tomatoes. Return the ribs to the Dutch oven and gently toss to coat with the tomato and spice mixture.
- To cook the short ribs in the oven: Arrange the short ribs in the Dutch oven in a single layer if possible, making sure each one is completely coated in the chili mixture. Pour enough water over top to just cover the short ribs, which should be 2 to 3 cups. Cover the Dutch oven securely, place in the preheated oven and cook for 3 or 4 hours, or until the ribs are completely tender and come off the bone.
To cook the short ribs in a slow-cooker: Combine the ribs and sauce in the cooker. Rinse the Dutch oven with 2 cups water and pour this over the ribs. Set the slow-cooker to high for 3 hours, then turn down to low and cook for 2 to 4 hours more, until the ribs are completely tender and the meat comes off the bone. (If you want to cook the ribs while you are at work or out of the house, just set the slow-cooker to low and let it go for 8 to 10 hours.)
- When the short ribs are falling apart tender, grab some tongs and transfer the ribs to a plate until cool enough to handle. Then roll up your sleeves and discard the bones, membrane, and excess fat. Use 2 forks to shred the meat from the ribs. Return the shredded meat to the pot and stir to combine with the cooking sauce. If the sauce seems too thick, add water. If it’s too watery, you can add some masa harina dissolved in water and let it cook for about 5 minutes on high to thicken. Taste and adjust the seasoning by adding salt and pepper to taste. Serve in a large bowl, family style.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
This chili recipe is refreshingly perfect. This is boldly spiced, vibrant tomato sauce, rich meaty goodness, finger-licking deliciousness. (Even I couldn’t tweak it to procure better results (so much for humility!) Might I add so ideally suited for the cooler temperatures coming our way. Of course, if you like your chili bland and boring and made with ground beef, this recipe is NOT for you. That said, for all you spice lovers, the melange of flavors in this chili coupled with the ease of cooking it in the oven makes this one a winner, whether weekday at home or at a potluck party for your gourmand friends. I made the chili powder recipe and it came out to 1/3 cup. I used all of it since you can never have too much spice. I’d pair this with an IPA or light lager to complement the spices.
Big hit in my house. I love the rich flavor of short ribs, and the ease of browning just 8 or so pieces of meat instead of 3 pounds of cubed meat. Having said that, though, I prefer my chili with chunkier meat. It was a little bit like eating pulled pork without the bun—a bowl of shredded meat in sauce. I wanted a little bit more texture. I used a 5-quart slow-cooker for 3 hours on high and 2 1/2 hours on low. I also made the stew the day before and stored the shredded meat and sauce separately so that I could skim the fat off the next day. This may have contributed to the meat shredding even further when I warmed it up again. (OK, I just had this brilliant idea while writing. Next time I will chill the ribs before shredding, that way I can obtain larger chunks of meat, bring the sauce to simmer, and then add the meat to briefly warm through.) I followed the recipe exactly, including making the homemade chili powder, and used all spices in the quantities stipulated. I would have liked the chili spicier, maybe add more chipotle chiles and jalapeno peppers next time. I served this with this buttermilk cornbread recipe—now that was a win! We gave the cornbread a 10, too! I would make this again.
Having never made chili before (what?!), I decided to start out with this short rib chili recipe that’s something a bit off the beaten path. What I ended up with was really more of a deeply flavored braised short rib dish than “bowl uh stew” material. The rather large amount of the spice mixture penetrated and mingled with the meat over the course of the long braise. Considering that it’s a full-day project, the richness and depth of the final dish was worthwhile and impressive. My grocery store didn’t have bone-in short ribs so I ended up buying 5 pounds of boneless short ribs, only later realizing that a significant amount of the weight came from the bone. I had a TON of meat. It took a while to sear all of it, but it fit fine in my large Dutch oven. My grocery store also didn’t have Mexican chocolate so I substituted bittersweet baking chocolate instead. Didn’t taste it a ton in the finished product, I assume it just added another layer of flavor. Once in the oven, I let the chili go for 4 hours and it was tender enough to shred at that point. I checked at 3 hours and it definitely needed more time. I added fine-ground cornmeal, which I had on hand, to thicken it. (I figured it did the same trick as masa harina.) I did skim off a significant amount of fat off the top (3/4 cup), I figured that bright orange spicy fat would be a heartburn nightmare. I served the ribs with rice, tortillas, and cilantro. It was excellent.
I was raised in the northern U.S. and chili here normally implies beans, vegetables, and often adding meat. This “chili” was certainly of the southern variety—just straight meat! The roasted chiles that were ground into the chili powder plus the chocolate gave an almost mole-like smokiness and flavoring to the dish. (I couldn’t find Mexican chocolate so I substituted semisweet chocolate plus a little ground cinnamon.) This tender shredded beef was well worth the extra time and effort to toast and grind the spices. I used a 5-quart slow-cooker. It’s a very basic model, no bells, no whistles, no timer. The beef was luscious and fall-apart-tender after 9 hours in the slow cooker. This recipe yielded 6 servings and could easily be stretched to 8 if served over pasta or rice. I might suggest changing the title of the recipe so that people in our wide audience aren’t confused by the title. Chili certainly refers to the spice used in this recipe, but depending on geographic location had the varying implications I mentioned previously. Just calling it short ribs wouldn’t be a detriment.
Originally published January 24, 2016