Brisket Chili. Need I say more? I don’t think so, but I will! Today there are a lot of people snowed in – in the northeast. What better time to stay home all nice and warm and cook all day? When I spoke to each of my sisters in New York, they were both very busy cooking! One sister spent the day making soups; she made chicken and lentil. The other sister made meatloaf, turkey chili and meatballs. Wish I was there to enjoy their bounty of deliciousness with them! Recently, I had my own freezing cold day where I stayed in and cooked all day. One of the things I prepared was brisket chili. I usually make turkey but this is where the Barefoot Contessa comes in. I was watching television and her show came on. It was the episode with her friend Devon’s award winning brisket chili recipe.
Ina Garten, aka the Barefoot Contessa, really knows how to live it up. She’s always having friends over to cook, bake, BBQ, decorate with and let’s not forget how much she likes surprising her husband Jeffrey with something (usually chicken)! In this episode, her friend Devon joined her to teach her how to cook her Award-Winning Chili and of course, to surprise Jeffrey! When Ina asked Devon why brisket, she simply said because it’s New York Chili – that’s why! I guess that’s as good a reason as any!
When seeing the show, I remember the first thing that popped into my head was – wow! that is a lot of spice! Then when Ina tasted it, she confirmed what I was thinking! The second thing was… brisket that’s extravagant cut of meat for chili. I had never thought of using brisket. For one reason, we don’t eat very much red meat in my house. Second, we keep kosher and kosher brisket is a very expensive cut of meat to turn into chili. As I watched her make it, I knew I had to try it. Even though I knew there was no way I was adding as much cayenne and chili pepper to it as she did! They added 2 tablespoons of chili powder, 1 tablespoon of red pepper flakes, and 1 tablespoon of cayenne pepper! Talk about hot! It was enough spice to melt all the snow in the northeast!
Anyway, as luck would have it, I was at my butcher last week and all they had was chicken. Yes, I said chicken – hang in there with me I’m getting to it! David, the nice man that works at the butcher shop, walked out from the back with a tray of brisket, but before seeing what it was, I made a joke and said “where’s the beef!” Then he showed me what he was about to put in the showcase. It was beautiful brisket, but the price – not so beautiful to use for chili! That’s when he leaned over, nudged me in the elbow and asked me if I like stew meat? I said yes, when I make stew. He said this is very special stew meat, you’ll never see it here again and he whispered, it’s the leftover brisket scraps at stew meat prices! I put every package in my cart and headed to the register before someone stopped me. Brisket chili here I come!
This is a very loosely adapted version of Devon’s Chili recipe. I want to give credit where credit was due but please note, I did change it quite a bit. The first time I made it last year, I made it close to the recipe but altered the spice to our liking (especially since Ina said it was so hot). This time around, I made it my own and added celery and more peppers plus, I like using canned tomatoes for chili. If interested, her original can be found on the Food Network website. Enjoy!
5 pounds beef brisket, cut in 1-inch cubes
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups chopped sweet onions
1 cup celery diced
3 peppers of any color seeded and diced (I used one of each, yellow, orange and red)
6 large garlic cloves, minced
1 bay leaf
2 (28 ounce) cans of diced tomatoes with their liquid
1 (14.5 ounce) can tomatoes with mild chili’s
1/2 cup strong coffee (I used decaf)
1 can white cannellini beans rinsed and drained
1 can red kidney beans rinsed and drained
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon chili powder (or to taste, more if you like it spicy!)
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or to taste, same as the chili powder)
2 tablespoons chopped basil leaves
Serve with: Diced tomato, Shredded Lettuce, Brown Rice, Corn, Tortilla chips, Guacamole or other condiment you like with your chili.
This recipe makes 8 to 10 servings
Pat the brisket cubes dry with paper towels. Heat the oil in a very large heavy-bottomed pot and quickly brown the meat, in batches, on all sides. Transfer the brisket to a separate bowl and set aside. Saute the onion and garlic in the same oil over medium heat until limp, but not brown, about 5 to 8 minutes and then add the celery and saute another 5 minutes until translucent.
Add the tomatoes with their juice, the reserved meat, chili powder, cayenne pepper, and bay leaf and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover the pot with a tight fitting lid and simmer for 2 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally. At this point it should be perking gently not bubbling rapidly. Taste and season with salt and pepper to your liking. Add the coffee and the diced peppers and cover the pot allow to simmer for 1 more hour or until the brisket is very tender.