Copyright Thomas Saaristo  All Rights Reserved
Braised chili

For the seared beef
2 tablespoons canola oil
4 pound chuck roast, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces, hard fat discarded
All purpose flour, for dusting

For the sofrito
2 fat carrots, trimmed and peeled, cut into 3 x 1 matchsticks
4 hearts of celery, ends trimmed as necessary, cut into thirds
4 fat cloves garlic, peeled, ends trimmed
4 large shallots, peeled, ends trimmed
1 small serrano chili, stemmed, cut into thirds
1 tablespoons canola oil

For the spices
1/4 cup fresh chili powder
2 tablespoons House salt
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons dried oregano
2 tablespoons ground cumin

For the braise
1 cup Port
3 cups chicken stock
1 bay leaf
1 star anise

For the toppings bar
Diced onion or shallot
Fresh cilantro and/or parsley leaves
Lime wedges
Orange zest
Sour cream
Bias cut scallions
Shredded Cheddar
Minced fresh chilies
Fennel pollen
Crispy crumbled bacon
Toasted sesame seeds
Grated bittersweet chocolate
Grated Macadamia nut


For the seared beef
Dust the cubed meat with flour. Heat a large saute pan over high heat for 2 minutes.
Add the canola oil and heat until it just begins to smoke

Add the beef in batches, searing each side hard (dark brown). Remove to a clean plate
and sear the rest hard on two sides

For the sofrito
Add the vegetables for the sofrito to the bowl of a food processor fitted with the
metal chopping blade. Pulse into an evenly texture paste, about 8 1 second pulses.
Add the canola oil to the pan where the beef had been seared and heat for 1 minute.
Add the sofrito and cook, stirring occasionally until the pan is quite dry

For the spices
Stir the spices together in a bowl until evenly combined. Move the sofrito to the sides
of the pan and sprinkle the spices into the center and toast for 30 seconds. Stir the
spices into the sofrito and cook, stirring occasionally, until the fond redevelops in the
bottom of the pan, 3 minutes. Deglaze the pan with the Porto and cook, stirring
constantly, until it has evaporated. Remove the pan from the heat

For the braise
Tumble the hard seared meat and any resting juices into the slow cooker. Add the bay
leaf. Add the sofrito in a reasonably even layer. Add the star anise. Add the chicken
stock and clean up the sides of the slow cooker above the mixture

Set the lid on the slow cooker and turn the gauge to Low. Cook for 8 to 10 hours

Taste the chili for salt and pepper

Bring the chili to room temperature and transfer to an air-tight container. Refrigerate
12 hours

On the day of service, heat the chili through in a large sauce pan, covered, over
medium heat. Discard the bay leaf and the star anise

For the toppings bar
Set up your toppings bar with any or all of the traditional and not so traditional chili
toppings in ramekins or small bowls

Serve the chili in warm bowls and allow guests to help themselves at the topping bar