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Beef Chili with Pancetta, Ancho and Chocolate


Recipe from the Tasting Table Test Kitchen

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Rate this recipe 3.9/5 (13 Votes)


  • 2 ancho chiles—stemmed, seeded and crumbled
  • 1/4 pound pancetta, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 pounds ground beef chuck
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • 2 large yellow onions, finely chopped (about 3 cups)
  • 1 green bell pepper, finely chopped (about 1 1/4 cups)
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced (2 tablespoons)
  • 3 tablespoons red chile powder
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons dark brown sugar
  • One 12-ounce bottle dark beer (such as Negra Modelo)
  • Two 15-ounce cans pinto beans, drained
  • One 14-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • Sliced avocado, cilantro, pickled jalapeños, grated cheddar, diced white onion, lime slices and sour cream for serving


Servings 8
Preparation time 30mins
Cooking time 165mins
Adapted from


Step 1

1. Place the dried chiles in a bowl and pour 1 cup of boiling water over them. Let the chiles soak for 10 minutes. Transfer them to a blender and purée until smooth; set aside.

2. In a large heavy-bottomed 6-quart pot or a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, add the pancetta and cook, stirring often, until the fat has rendered and the pancetta is crisp, 4 to 6 minutes. Remove the pancetta and transfer to a bowl.

3. Add the oil and increase the heat to high. Working in two batches, brown the beef, breaking it up using a wooden spoon, 2 to 3 minutes per batch. Remove the meat using a slotted spoon and transfer to the bowl with the pancetta.

4. Reduce the heat to medium high. Add the onions and pepper to the pot. Season with salt and cook, stirring often, until soft, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the garlic, chile powder, oregano, black pepper, cayenne and bay leaf and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until the pot is very fragrant from the spices. Add the tomato paste and reserved meat and pancetta and cook for an additional 10 minutes. Add the reserved ancho chile purée, brown sugar, beer, beans, crushed tomatoes and chocolate and simmer over medium low heat for 1 hour and 15 minutes to 1½ hours, or until the flavors have melded together. Stir in the vinegar. Taste and adjust the seasoning as necessary. Serve the chili hot with avocado, cilantro, pickled jalapeños, cheddar, onion, lime and sour cream. Make ahead: Chili can be made 2 days ahead, then covered and chilled. Rewarm over low heat.

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