This Mexican beef taco chili is thick, smoky and filled with beans, butternut squash and two different types of meat. Perfect for curling up under a blanket and staying in out of the cold.
Mexican Beef Taco Chili
It’s snowy outside, football season is near a close and the holidays are over. There is only one thing we must do to survive all of these things. MAKE CHILI!
I LOVE chili. It’s so versatile, everyone has their own style of making it. Some like it crazy hot, some like it super sweet, some like 3-bean while others like no beans! While there has never been a chili I haven’t liked, when making it at home there are a few musts for me…
THICK, the thicker the better.
MEATY, and lots of it.
SPICY, make me sweat hot (this recipe I have omitted spiciness for the masses, check my notes at the bottom of the recipe if you like it hot).
BEANS, a good amount.
TOPPINGS, chopped fresh onion, sour cream and cheese are a must.
Mexican Dried Chilies:
Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s get down to what we wanted for this chili. To get thick chili I wanted to start with Mexican dried chiles. Dried chiles are the base for some of my favorite Mexican dishes like mole or enchilada sauce. The thicker you make the base, the thicker your chili can be. SPECIAL NOTE: For those who are not familiar with working with dried chilies or aren’t able to find them, you can purchase adobo bases. Frontera has a couple in the flavors of guajillo and ancho you can use as a substitute (can be bought on amazon). If you can not find a good adobo base, then look for a can of chipotle in adobo sauce and blend up two chipotle peppers with all of the sauce for a substitute for the base created below.
The reason I used these specific peppers is because they have a slightly sweet and smoky flavor to them. This will add depth to our chili and give it that fire roasted feel even though we are making this in a slow cooker.
Dried peppers used to be so intimidating to me until I just took a chance and started playing with them. Once you get used to it, you don’t go back. I also love that they are SO cheap and last forever in the pantry. You can grind them up and use them as a spice or re-hydrate them and create an adobo or base sauce and freeze until you need it for a recipe. They are amazing. For this chili, I used two of each of the three peppers I picked(6 in total). To re-hydrate the chiles place them in a bowl after you’ve cut the tops off and taken all the seeds out(shown below).
Once you have the chiles in a bowl, then take hot water and pour enough to just cover. I used an empty glass bowl to make sure the peppers were submerged, this process will take 30 minutes.
Once the chiles are dried, they should look brighter and have a leathery feel to them. Then they are ready to be blended into a paste or sauce depending on how much liquid you add.
Because the peppers vary so much in size, I would start with a 1/2 cup of water or broth of the leftover water from re-hydrating them. I ended up using a full cup of pepper liquid.
So beautiful, vibrant and earthy tasting! I just love this color. Now let’s make some chili! I’m excited. Now you can add all the seasoning for the chili to the pepper sauce and blend in the food processor one more time for an even consistency. The seasonings I added are 4 cloves of garlic, two heaping tablespoons of chili powder, 1 teaspoon of cumin, 2 tablespoons of taco seasoning, 1 cup of beef broth and 1/4 teaspoon of salt.
I decided to use stew meat and Mexican chorizo to have a difference of texture and the chorizo is so heavily spiced it just adds more depth and complexity to our chili. I chose to brown the meat just before placing in the slow cooker. Sear the meat over medium high heat on each side until just browned (roughly 30 seconds on each side). For the chorizo, I took the meat out of the casing and seared it whole before placing in the slow cooker.
Once all the meat is finished, it can go in the slow cooker. As the chorizo cooks down, it will get more crumbly like ground beef and it will taste soo good.
Assemble the rest:
Next you can pour your seasoned pepper sauce that you made over the meat. Then add your pinto beans, fire roasted tomatoes, onion and butternut squash.
NOTE: If you can find already pre-cut butternut squash or frozen…do it! For me personally, cutting the squash was a pain. I do have a trick if you do decide to use fresh squash: Score the skin of the fresh butternut squash by running a knife down the sides of the squash. Place the scored squash in the microwave for 4 to 5 minutes. Then after removing the skin and seeds (be careful it’s hot!), chop into large 1 inch chunks (about 2 cups).
Cover the slow cooker and set to high for 4 hours and done!
Like I said before, I love toppings. I chose to use Mexican shredded cheese, sour cream, chopped onion, sliced jalapeno and a dash of chopped cilantro to finish off my chili.