Ancho Beef Chuck Chili at the Roadhouse

It’s not cold when you’ve got a little chili!

by Marcy Harris

A bowl of Ancho Beef Chuck Chili with a piece of Bakehouse Sourdough bread.

With the temperature dropping again, all I’ve been hearing about is chili! I always enjoy learning what people put into their recipe. Not to say I’m stirring the pot, but hearing debates about what makes the best chili spices up my day.

My recent favorite was a disagreement about the amount of tomatoes, which then simmered into a discussion about whether or not to add a pinch of cinnamon. Everyone seems to have their own approach, claiming it to be the best. As long as I get to try it, you won’t hear any arguments from me.

Curl up with a bowl full of what you love.

When the chili is cooking in the Roadhouse kitchen, the comforting smells of cumin and chili powder stir up memories of my childhood. My father would make a batch every winter and freeze it in glass jars. His recipe is classically Midwestern: ground beef, peppers, onions, diced tomatoes, and kidney beans. The beans were my favorite part. I love the way they split open when soft, soaking up the seasoned broth.

But what it really boils down to for me is that no matter where it comes from or what the story is, all chili is fantastic. There is more of a Southern influence with our Ancho Beef Chili, and with that added pinch of regional tradition, it tastes so good!

We’re letting a dark secret out of the pot!

Our Ancho Beef Chuck chili is a bit different, in a really good way. It is thickened with a dark roux, like a gumbo. Roux is equal parts fat and flour, and can be cooked to varying levels of color to impart varying levels of flavor. In the case of our chili, we take the roux to the color of dark chocolate, which adds a deep smoky character.

The ingredients are simple, yet when they all come together, make our chili rich and flavorful. We used pieces of beef chuck from local cows, dry-aged and gently stewed until they are super tender. Instead of kidney beans we throw in small black beans that bring really big flavor! I like them because while they still offer that satisfying texture similar to kidney beans, they don’t overpower the beef.

Our pepper is just a lil’ chili!

We then take it all up a notch with cumin, Muscavado brown sugar, Ancho chili powder, and Pequin chiles. Ancho chiles are the dried version of ripe Poblanos. They are deep reddish-brown, and bear a mild fruity flavor, as they develop a sweeter side when dried. Pequin chiles are small, yet mighty. They definitely kick up a bit of heat, beating out the Jalapeño on the Scoville scale. Yet they are also smoky and citrusy up front, so the spice in our chili unfolds slowly.

Whether you scoop it up with crusty buttered Bakehouse bread, or smother your fries with it, our chili is warm, inviting, and delicious. My sister’s boyfriend craves it, and every time they visit Ann Arbor, he has to stop by the Roadhouse for a bowl. I know your recipe is awesome, too, but definitely give ours a try, it might be your new favorite!

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