Smoked Chili Con Carne

Smoked Chili Con Carne

There’s nothing like a bowl of “red” on a chilly day, especially one subtly infused with wood smoke. In this recipe, we share a trick for smoking ground meats and diced vegetables using equipment you likely already have in your kitchen.

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Ingredients

  • 2 pounds ground chuck
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 red or green bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes, or diced tomatoes with chiles
  • 2 cups prepared beef bouillon or stock, plus more as needed
  • 1 beef, chicken, pork, or chipotle bouillon cube, preferably Knorr’s brand
  • 1/2 cup dark beer or strong brewed coffee
  • 1/2 cup canned tomato sauce, or 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1-1/2 to 2 tablespoons chili powder, or more to taste
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin, or more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon oregano, preferably Mexican
  • 2 15-ounce cans chili beans with sauce
  • 1 tablespoon chocolate chips
  • Optional for serving: Chopped fresh cilantro, grated cheese, sliced green onions, sour cream, tortilla chips, Mexican hot sauce

Preparation

Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and top with a wire grid cooling rack.

Using a rolling pin, roll the meat into a rectangle roughly the size of the cooling rack between sheets of plastic wrap or wax paper. Remove the top piece of plastic wrap and use the bottom one to help you flip the meat onto the rack; remove the bottom piece of plastic wrap and discard.

Transfer the diced onion and bell pepper to a perforated vegetable grilling tray or a metal kitchen colander. Alternatively, you can poke holes in a heavy duty sheet of aluminum foil; the point is to allow smoke to circulate around the ingredients.

When ready to cook, start the Traeger grill on Smoke with the lid open until the fire is established (4 to 5 minutes).

Put the baking sheet and grilling tray on the grill grate. Smoke the meat and vegetables for 1 hour. Break the meat up into small chunks or crumbles and add to a Dutch oven along with 2 to 3 tablespoons of the meat drippings. Stir in the onion and bell pepper, as well as the garlic, diced tomatoes, beef bouillon, bouillon cube, beer, tomato sauce, chili powder, cumin, and oregano.

Increase the heat on the Traeger to 300 degrees and cook the chili, uncovered, for 1-1/2 to 2 hours. Stir in the chili beans, and chocolate chips. Taste for seasoning and texture, adding more prepared beef bouillon or spices if needed. If the chili is too runny, remove one to two cups and puree in a blender jar: stir back into the chili. Continue to simmer for 30 minutes to 1 hour more.

Serve hot in bowls with any or all of the suggested toppings.