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Spicy Chili with Flank Steak

January 24, 2011

This past weekend has gone on record as being the coldest of the season so far in the District. It was a steady and blustery 28 degrees on Saturday and with the wind blowing between the tall city buildings, it was colder than that. After working on Saturday taking some patients out for a trip to the Newseum (one of the best museums in D.C. — it’s not free, but worth every penny), I was glad to have a bowl of this chili waiting for me at home.

The real reason this chili came about was because we had an excess of flank steak in the freezer; a big block of it bought at the beginning of the month and tossed in the back. When we defrosted it, we had to defrost the whole thing so we needed something to use up three big slabs of  steak. I remembered one of my co-workers raving about this chili recipe from Whole Foods. She loved it for two reasons: one, she got to make it in her Le Creuset dutch oven, and two, the chipotle in adobo made for a wonderfully smoky and spicy combination. Both, as it turns out, are very good reasons.

The original recipe was for a vegetarian chili but when you’re living on a monthly food budget between seven people, you make your ingredients work for you and the flank steak paid off. The cut was tender after being simmered for half a day and made the chili heartier than it already was.

Spicy Chili with Flank Steak

Spicy Chili with Flank Steak

Spicy Chili with Flank Steak, adapted from Whole Foods


2 tablespoons olive or canola oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 medium green bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
1 medium red bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 to 3 tablespoons finely chopped chipotles in adobo 1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes, with their liquid
3 cups cooked red kidney beans, drained (OR 3 cups cubed flank steak)
1 1/2 cups cooked black beans, drained


1. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onions, carrots, celery, peppers and garlic and cook for 10 to 12 minutes, until vegetables are softened but not browned.

2. Add chipotles, oregano, cumin, chili powder and salt. Stir to blend. Add tomatoes and 4 cups water.

3. Gently simmer over low heat, uncovered, for 45 minutes. Add beans and simmer an additional 30 minutes. Garnish individual bowls with green onions or sour cream, if desired.

Spicy Chili with Flank Steak

Spicy Chili with Flank Steak



We substituted 3 cups of cubed flank steak, seasoned with salt and pepper, for the red kidney beans. Omitted the celery and chili powder and used red chili flakes instead. To adapt this recipe with meat, just heat oil as in step one with garlic, and add the seasoned cubed flank steak and brown. Then follow the recipe exactly as above. For further tasting, I added a couple of tablespoons of chili seasoning, salt, and a teaspoon or two of sugar.

I wanted to add some corn to this too and think it would taste awesome; the sweet kernels adding both a delicate flavor and texture. Alas, I didn’t have any but next time, I will be sure to have some on hand. The longer you let the chili simmer, the better it gets. We let our pot simmer for a good twelve hours throughout two days between re-heatings; each time it got thicker and tastier!

One Comment leave one →
  1. January 24, 2011 11:17 AM

    I really have to try this. The little “invention” with red chili flakes hasn’t crossed my mind. Good job !

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