Thursday, May 14, 2009

Chile Colorado con Carne

If you've got a couple pounds of roast handy but you're tired of pot roast with potatoes and carrots, here's a delicious way to use it that will make your family happy. This is a very rich dish with deep flavors, and it can be as spicy or mild as you prefer, depending on the type and number of chiles you add.

Chile Colorado con Carne (usually just called "Chile Colorado" on restaurant menus) is a traditional Mexican dish, not to be confused with the Tex-Mex dish we know as "chili con carne". Not that chili is bad, but it is very different from Chile Colorado. (Note the difference in spelling: Chili versus Chile.) "Chile Colorado" simply translated means "Red Chile", and it is the chiles that give the sauce its deep red color and bite.

I've seen many recipes for this dish that use pork, but this is properly a BEEF dish. A similar dish using pork, which takes a good couple of days to make properly, is called Carne Adovada. A wonderful comfort food, I'll cover it at another time. For now, I give you the amazing, the delicious, the rich, meaty, utterly delectable--


  • 2 to 3 pound beef roast, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 6 to 8 dried red chiles (such as ancho, pasilla or guajillo) rehydrated and ground into a paste (more or less, to taste) *see below
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 beef bouillon cube
  • 1 Tablespoon cocoa
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons salt, preferably kosher or sea salt (or to taste)
  • 2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • Small amount of oil for browning the meat


In a large Dutch Oven or heavy pot, brown meat in hot oil over medium high heat. Add bouillon, prepared chile sauce (*see below), tomatoes, onion and enough water to cover meat. Bring to a boil, then turn heat down to a simmer. Cover the pot and simmer for about 3 hours, or until meat is very tender. Add a little water from time to time if it seems to be getting too dry. (The long simmering time also allows all the flavors to meld.)

Serve with hot flour torillas.
*Making the Chile Sauce:
Pick dried whole chiles that look reasonably fresh. Rinse off any excess dust or grime under cool water and pat dry. Cut the tops off the chiles, then slit them down the middle and shake out the seeds. Note that the seeds and the veins add extra heat to the dish, so if you want a milder finished product be sure to peel off the dried veins that run in a line down the inside, and to remove as many seeds as possible.

Roast the dried chiles on a hot griddle or in a heavy pan for 2 or 3 minutes, being sure to turn them frequently so they don't burn. Then put the chiles in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Let them soak for 20 to 30 minutes. Using tongs, remove the softened chiles from the water and put them in a blender with about 1/4 cup water. Add the garlic, cocoa, oregano and cumin and puree until smooth. (At this point you have the choice to use it as is or to press it through a sieve to remove pieces of skin and seed; this gives a smoother finished product, but is not necessary.) Now it is ready to add to the meat.

Depending on personal tastes, some cooks add canned tomatoes or tomato sauce to this dish while others omit that entirely. I like the tomato element, but you can leave it out if you want to. Just be sure to add a little extra broth or water to replace what would have been in the tomato product.

Buen Provecho!

If you have a favorite recipe for a Mexican or Mexican-inspired dish, I'd love to add it to our recipe box! email (and put "recipe" in the subject box so I'll know what it's about)


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