If you’re a fan of braised meats and Mexican food you’re probably already familiar with chile colorado, but did you know that it’s super easy to make at home? This homemade version was partly inspired by my distaste for the occasional plate of rubbery, under-braised meat I was served in restaurants. (Let’s just say I do not frequent these tough-meat-serving establishments any more. Much better, yet similarly priced, options are out there — Nopalito, Copita and Tacolicious, to name a few . . . and let’s not forget your own kitchen!)
The other reason behind the shift: chile colorado can be a hidden source of gluten since some places dredge the meat in flour before searing. Let’s just say I never looked back after the first batch I made on my nineteenth birthday, though the recipe has certainly evolved. Notably, I no longer use cornstarch in place of flour, instead I reach for my favorite: millet! This simple substitution creates a lovely, non-gelatinous sauce and a allows for beautiful sear on the meat.
This is one of those recipes that you can commit to memory it’s so simple, with such a streamlined list of ingredients; I like that. Peppers are soaked and puréed, meat seared, onions sautéed then everything is popped into the oven to braise for several hours — so much less time consuming (no stirring or monitoring the aggressiveness of the simmer) than cooking the chile colorado on the stovetop, plus the meat cubes stay better intact because they aren’t being fussed with. The result is a plate of tender beef enrobed in a mild chile pepper sauce, perfect served with beans, rice and a stack of corn tortillas to use more like bread (versus a taco-making device) to swipe up every last drop of sauce!
Preparation Time: 30 minutes
Inactive Preparation Time: 30 minutes
Baking Time: 4 hours
Serves: 6 – 8
- 4 ounces (113 grams) California/New Mexico/Anaheim chile peppers¹
- 4 cups low-sodium beef broth
- 1/4 cup (30 grams) millet flour
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 3 1⁄2 pounds beef stew meat or a 4-pound chuck roast cut into about 2″ cubes¹
- 2 tablespoons (28 grams) refined peanut oil, divided
- 8 ounces (from about 1 medium-large) finely chopped onion
Remove stems from peppers, split lengthwise rinse out seeds (remove ribs if you prefer less spicy food). Place in a small or medium (2- or 4-quart) saucepan, add beef broth. Over high heat, bring mixture to a boil; once it comes to a boil, remove from heat, stir, cover and steep for at least 30 minutes.
After peppers have softened, transfer the entire mixture (peppers plus cooking liquid) to a blender or food processor (if the mixture is still warm, the top cannot be completely covered unless you want an explosion to occur — I just hold several layers of floursack towel over the small, center hole). Blend peppers until smooth; set aside.
Sear Meat, Cook Onion and Braise:
Arrange/remove oven racks so a 6-quart Dutch oven can be centered vertically. Preheat to 250°F.
In a gallon or larger zip top bag, combine the millet flour, Kosher salt and pepper; seal and shake to mix. Pat meat dry with paper towels before adding it to the flour bag. Shake vigorously to lightly coat meat on all sides.
Heat 1 tablespoon of the peanut oil in a 6-quart Dutch oven over high heat until shimmering and just beginning to smoke. Sear half of the meat for about 1 minute total, turning so it gets lightly browned on just about all sides); transfer to a heatproof plate. Repeat with remaining oil and meat.
Reduce heat to low and add onions. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and browned in spots, about 5 minutes. Deglaze pan (be careful, it’ll steam!) with some of the blended pepper mixture. Add remaining pepper mixture along with the seared meat and any accumulated juices; stir, covering meat completely. Cover with lid, and place in preheated oven. Bake for about 4 hours or until meat is very tender.
Thicken Sauce and Serve:
Once meat is tender, remove cubes with a slotted spoon to a heatproof serving dish and tent with foil to keep warm. Set Dutch oven over medium-high heat, cover with a splatter screen and cook sauce, stirring often, for about 10 – 15 minutes or until desired thickness is reached (I recommend a consistency that’s just a touch thicker than gravy). Season to taste with additional salt, if needed. Pour reduced sauce over meat and serve with tortillas, beans and rice.
² If you frequent a butcher that you trust will supply you with consistently-sized, large chunks of stew meat that need minimal trimming I say go for it. I have been consistently pleased with the quality of cuts purchased at several Whole Foods (San Francisco Costco, on the other hand, is on my stew meat naughty list). Otherwise, pick up a beef chuck roast and prepare the cubes yourself — it’ll likely need some serious trimming, hence the 4-pound roast recommendation, but you just need about 3 – 3 1⁄2 pounds of usuable, cubed meat for this recipe.