Chili Con Carne with Lumpy Guacamole

Photo: Beatriz de Costa

A heaping batch of this hearty Texas dish has Texas-size flavor. Our recipe uses two varieties of whole dried peppers with plenty of personality.


  • 1 pound dried pinto beans, soaked according to package directions

  • ¼ cup plus 3 tablespoons corn oil

  • 3 ½ pounds plum tomatoes (about 18)

  • 2 ½ pounds medium yellow onions (about 7), stem ends trimmed, quartered lengthwise with skins left on

  • 10 garlic cloves (skins left on)

  • 4 mulato chiles

  • 3 ancho chiles

  • 1 can (14 ½ ounces) low-sodium beef broth

  • 1 cup water

  • 5 pounds ground round or ground chuck

  • 1 tablespoon coarse salt

  • 2 ounces Mexican chocolate or semisweet chocolate, chopped

  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • Lumpy Guacamole


  1. Drain and rinse the soaked beans, and place in a large saucepan with water to cover by 2 inches. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer gently until beans are tender, about 1 1/2 hours. (You can prepare beans 1 or 2 days ahead; let cool, cover, and refrigerate in their liquid.)

  2. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a 12-inch cast-iron skillet over medium heat; add tomatoes, and cook, turning occasionally, until skins begin to char, about 5 minutes. Cover pan, reduce heat to medium-low, and continue to cook, turning, until tomatoes have softened, 7 to 8 minutes more. Transfer to a large bowl. When cool enough to handle, peel and core tomatoes. Place tomato flesh in a clean bowl, and reserve.

  3. While tomatoes cool, place two-thirds of onion quarters in same skillet with 2 tablespoons oil. Cover, and cook over medium heat, turning occasionally, until nicely charred and softened, 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a bowl to cool. Repeat with garlic cloves, remaining onion, and another tablespoon oil. When cool enough to handle, peel garlic and onion, cutting off and discarding roots and peels and adding flesh to bowl with tomato. Transfer vegetables and any juices to a blender in batches (fill no more than halfway), and puree until nearly smooth. Set aside in a large bowl.

  4. Tear the chiles in half, and discard stems and seeds. In the same skillet over medium heat, toast chiles in remaining 2 tablespoons oil, turning with tongs, until smoky, about 3 minutes. Transfer to the blender. Bring broth and water to a boil, pour over chiles, and let stand until chiles are pliable, about 5 minutes. Puree chiles and broth, and stir into tomato mixture.

  5. In a 7-quart Dutch oven over medium heat, cook one-third of meat, breaking it up with a spoon and stirring occasionally until nicely browned, about 8 minutes. While meat is cooking, brown another third of the meat in the skillet. Then add that batch to the first in the Dutch oven. Stir tomato mixture into meat in Dutch oven. Brown remaining beef in same skillet; add to Dutch oven. Drain cooked beans; add them to pot with salt.

  6. Bring the chili to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer gently, stirring, until heat is tender and sauce is thick, about 1 1/2 hours. Stir in chocolate, and season with the pepper. Serve with guacamole.

Cook's Notes

Control the heat by increasing or decreasing the number of chiles; be sure to have good ventilation over the stove when pan-roasting them. If you have two large cast-iron skillets, save some time by using both at once. We served this deep, dark chili with traditional garnishes: shredded extra-sharp cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese, sour cream, chopped cilantro, and guacamole.

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