"What makes a great Homemade Chili Colorado? In my mind, it's the perfect combination of tender, juicy chunks of beef or pork that has been slowly simmered in a rich chili sauce. Not too hot, not too mild. But just right…This Chili Colorado has a great chili flavor but is not overly hot. If you like it hotter, feel free to add some cayenne pepper to 'heat it up a bit."
How to make Homemade Beef Chili Colorado
A good Homemade Beef Chili Colorado is all about the chiles.
Since moving from Southern California to Northern California via Tulsa Oklahoma, I've been hard-pressed to find a really good chili Colorado. So I do what I do, I make my own. And my Homemade Chili Colorado is not only delicious it's not all that hard to make. Once the sauce is made and the meat is cut and in the pot, it's all downtime. Until you put that tasty morsel in your mouth and then, yum!
- How to make Homemade Beef Chili Colorado
- What Chilies to use in Chili Colorado
- The other Key Ingredients
- How to buy dried chilies
- How to rehydrate dried chilies
- Ways to serve and eat Chili Colorado
- How to make the perfect Chili Colorado Toastda
- Best cooking methods
- Wine Recommendation
- Homemade Chili Colorado
What Chilies to use in Chili Colorado
When making your own, Homemade Chili Colorado, you can use any variety of chilies you like, although I have suggestions for the ones I like best. Here is a quick roundup of some of the many varieties that will work well when making Chili Colorado.:
"Chili Colorado is all about the chiles"
Ancho: The name means "wide chile" in Spanish, a nearly black pepper, made from ripe poblano peppers. They have a high yield of flesh to skin which makes them great in sauces. Anchos are mild with a rich, dark cherry/raisin sweetness. Beware: Ancho chiles are sometimes labeled "pasilla chiles," but they are much wider at the stem than true pasillas.
California: Shiny red with fairly smooth skins, these are dried, ripe Anaheim chiles with an uncomplicated, sunny flavor that is very mild. They are usually blended with more interesting chiles when making sauces. I call these, "filler" chilies as they add flavor but not much heat so are great for building up the chili factor in the Chili Colorado.
New Mexican: A variation of dried Anaheim chiles, these long, tapered chiles are often labeled "Colorado chiles." Hotter than California chiles, but with the same bright flavor.
Guajillo: These are dried mirasol chiles. They have long, shiny, tapered pods with tough cranberry-red skins. They boast a moderately spicy, tangy flavor with a hint of citrus. The skins are tough, so these peppers are best strained after your sauce has been blended.
Pasilla: These long, tapered chiles sport black, wrinkled skins and lend a subtle, prune-like flavor with hints of licorice. Complex and quite spicy.
Chipotle: Made by smoking and drying jalapenos, chipotles are often sold canned in tomato sauce as "chipotles in adobo," but they also come in two dried varieties: Meco (mellower) and mora/moritas (very spicy). They have a dusty, tan appearance and a woodsy, smoky flavor with quite a bit of heat. Because of their smokey flavor, they are best used in moderation.
The other Key Ingredients
While Chili Colorado may be all about the chilies, it also has some additional key ingredients necessary to round out the flavor. These include:
- Chili Powder - I prefer Gebhardts, but any good chili powder will work.
- Cumin - As it's known here, it's also known as Comino in many parts of the country.
- Dried Oregano - While I generally only have Mediterranean oregano in my pantry, Mexican oregano is nice to use in Chili Colorado.
How to buy dried chilies
Where to buy your chilies?
Well, the best place is at a Mexican market.
Why? Because they use them so they will not only be the freshest, but also the cheapest.
Supermarkets may carry them, but because of the slow turn-around, they will be older and more expensive.
How to rehydrate dried chilies
Many instructions for rehydrating dried chilies, like those used in Chili Colorado, suggest you toast the chilies before softening them. Through trial, and error, I have found there is a really fine line between toasting them and ruining them; I’ve also found in the end product, it didn’t make that much difference.
Now I go for the easy. Just seed and stem them, then put them into a pot with enough water to just cover, bring to a boil then reduce the heat to simmer, for about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave them covered for half an hour. Save the liquid, and blend the chilies. This is the base of your Homemade Chili Colorado.
Mediterranean oregano is a spice with minty undertones. It matches perfectly with dishes from that region. Mexican oregano has lemon and citrus flavors as well as some tones of licorice and works well with dishes of that region. Although most of us would be hard-pressed to tell the difference in the final dish.
This will depend on what type of blender you have. If you have a very high-powered blender such as my Vitamix, you will more likely not need to strain. However, if you don't and your skins are not fully blended into the liquid, then I would strain it through a fine sieve to remove the pieces of skin. They are not pleasant to eat.
Yes. The heat will be determined in part by your choice of chilies, as mentioned above, California and New Mexico Chilies are very mild in heat, but add a lot of flavors. Ancho and Pasilla peppers will add a bit more deep flavor, as well as heat.
You can also adjust the amount of chili powder and add some cayenne pepper to adjust the heat.
Roundness of flavor. Same as adding a pinch of salt to a sweet dessert batter, adding these small amounts of cocoa powder and clove adds just a depth of flavor that I couldn't get without them.
No, While the meat doesn't need to be browned, you still want to cook it slowly so the juice of the meat is released. This juice is important for making the sauce as it adds a beefy flavor.
A lot of Mexican restaurants and recipes call for the use of pork. While I prefer using pork in Chili Verde, it can be used in Chili Colorado.
Ways to serve and eat Chili Colorado
This meaty flavorful chili Colorado is so versatile.
- Serve it all by itself. Just put some in a bowl, and add a side of tortillas or homemade cornbread, or polenta muffins.
- Roll it into some softened corn tortillas, top it with a homemade red sauce, and make an enchilada using the Chili Colorado in place of the cheese, or actually along with the cheese is best!
- Use it as a topping for the best tostada!
How to make the perfect Chili Colorado Toastda
Step 1: You need to have a crunchy crispy tortilla, I prefer corn and am not sure how to make a crispy flour tortilla taste good, so we'll stick with corn.
There are two methods to making your tortilla crispy, either in the oven or on the stovetop frying it in hot oil.
Method 1 - Oven Baked. Heat the oven to 350ºF. Brush both sides with oil and place on a cookie sheet. Put into the oven and cook, turning occasionally, for 10 - 15 minutes or until crisp all the way through to the center. YOU WANT THE ENTIRE SHELL CRISPY.
Method 2 - Stovetop. Heat about ¼ inch of neutral oil, like Grapeseed or Avocado, in a small skillet. Once the oil is hot, add the tortilla, turning occasionally, and using your spatula or tongs to keep it flat, cook until crisp.
Step 2: Add the toppings.
Other than the required topping of Chili Colorado, there are a few that I consider essential to make a proper tostada. They include:
- Refried beans. For Chili Colorado, I prefer mashed black beans. Pinto beans will work as well.
- Shredded Lettuce. ICEBERG. While I don't use iceberg lettuce a lot, it is essential for crunch as a topping in Chili Colorado or inside your homemade taco. Also for a Wedge Salad.
- Shredded and Crumbled Cheese. I use mostly cheddar for my tostada, with a sprinkling of Cotia. Jack cheese will work as well.
- Guacamole: Super Simple Guacamole is the best choice for pure fresh avocado flavor. Or you could just slice some avocado slices on top.
- Sour Cream: For me a yes, yes. For the hubs a no-no. So you decide.
Layer on top of each other in the order listed and...you have a wonderful tostada. I love to crunch up some tortilla strips to put on top, just to get a little more of that tostada, taco, corn tortilla flavor.
Optional Ingredients include sliced black olives, pickled jalapenos, sliced fresh jalapenos, and thinly sliced radish.
Best cooking methods
I just love choices, don't you?
While slow cooking in the oven is my favorite method, the smell will drive you nearly insane as it cooks, Chili Colorado can also be done in your Instant Pot either as a slow cooker or pressure cooker, slowly on the stovetop (be sure to stir occasionally and check your liquid levels adding more broth or water as necessary) or in your good old-fashioned "crock pot". See the recipe card for details.
Homemade Chili Colorado freezes beautifully and is always nice to have a container, or two, in the freezer. Simply portion out servings, and then freeze them in freezer-safe containers. I transfer mine to a seal-a-meal bag once frozen which allows Colorado to store for more than a year in the freezer without any ill effects.
If you are not having a beer or a Margarita, you would be doing as I would be doing and having a nice Merlot or Sangiovese.
Homemade Chili Colorado
- Heavy Duty Blender or other blender
- 4 - 5 dried California chiles stemmed and seeded
- 2 - 3 dried New Mexico chilies stemmed and seeded
- 2 Ancho chiles stemmed and seeded or pasilla
- 3 cups water
- 2 cloves garlic chopped
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano or to taste
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin or to taste
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- ½ teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder or to taste
- Chile powder as needed to adjust the final product
- 4 - 5 pounds beef chuck cut into medium-sized cubes (not quite an inch, not quite a half-inch, just a nice bite size
- 1 - 2 tablespoons oil I use only grape seed oil or olive oil, for this grape seed
- 2 tablespoons flour for a thicker sauce, if desired
- Optional Tostada Fixins
- Refried or black beans lightly mash whole black beans
- Shredded iceberg lettuce I don't usually recommend iceberg lettuce, but for this, the crunch is necessary
- Diced tomatoes or Pico de Gallo
- Diced onions
- Shredded Mexican cheese
- Sliced black olives optional
- Guacamole optional
- Sour cream optional
- Taco sauces of your choice
- Crisp corn tortillas
- Place the chilies in a saucepan, cover with water. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes; cover, turn off the heat and allow to sit for 30 minutes. After at least 30 minutes, drain the chilies, reserving the liquid. Place in a blender along with the garlic, salt, oregano, cumin and cloves along with a small amount of the cooking liquid; blend until smooth. (if you don't have a very powerful blender that makes a smooth paste, pass through a food mill using a medium grade disk, or a sieve to remove skins.) You should now have a very smooth and rich chili sauce. Set – aside.
- Preheat the oven to 325°FIn a large Dutch oven over medium heat, heat the oil. Season the meat well with salt and pepper, and then add to the pot all at once, you don’t want to brown the meat, you just want to take the red off it and allow it to release its juices. Just stir the meat, (it will look gray, not brown); once the meat has been cooked and is simmering in its own juices, add the optional flour, if using. Cook stirring for a minute or two or until the flour starts to thicken the juices, then add the reserved chili sauce and the liquid from steeping the chilies. Stir in the cocoa powder. If the meat is not covered, add a little water or beef broth to cover completely. Bring tthechili o a simmer, then cover tightly and place in the oven. Allow to cook 2 ½ to 3 hours, or until the meat is extremely tender. Using care (and mitts) remove from the oven, taste and adjust seasonings with salt, chili powder, and additional chocolate, oregano or cumin, and cayenne pepper as desired.
- You can eat a bowl of this, topped with some chopped onion and cheese (cheddar or cotija); serve some corn or flour tortillas alongside. Or continue on and make tostadas.
- To make the Tostada Brush the tortillas on both sides with oil and bake on a cookie sheet in a 350°F oven for about 10 – 15 minutes or until crispy, turn a couple of times. Or fry in a small amount of oil until crisp, turning often and keeping them flat.
- Place the crisp tortilla on a plate; top with refried or black beans; a nice helping of Chili Colorado, then top with the toppings of your choice. I like to add another bit of the chili on the top of the veggies, then add the Guac and sour cream.