I tried to tell my husband and kids that this dish was a flop, but once they got a whiff of the delicious smell wafting out of the slow cooker, there was no way to fend them off of my precious chili colorado. Drat. Now I have to share.
“Colorado” here means red, so essentially this is red chili. Online, you will find plenty of arguments for how to properly make this dish (no tomatoes! hand-ground chiles!). But for me, the perfect chili colorado is both flavorful but mild and exciting yet comforting. This recipe is it.
I first discovered chili colorado in our family’s favorite hole-in-the-wall Mexican restaurants in LA, and I immediately fell in love. Unfortunately, one of problems that arises when you decide to make real food a way of life is that sometimes, some of your favorite foods are no long on the menu.
In general, I prefer to take an 80/20 approach when it comes to this – meaning I aim for 80% of the food my family eats to be real food with no more than 20% being exceptions that help to make life fun and not so darn up-tight.
I blame my stint as a vegetarian, but one place I don’t like to cut corners is when it comes to meat. Personally, I’d rather avoid factory raised meat and save my carnivorous meals for when I’m dining at home or somewhere where I know the food has been properly sourced.
That’s why I was thrilled to finally master this simple recipe for chili colorado. It’s so easy to throw together in a slow cooker and forget all day, only to come back to dinner perfection. Serve it with my family’s favorite Spanish rice, and to balance it out just a touch, a nice simple green salad.
Chili Colorado ingredients
- 1 onion
- 4 cloves garlic
- 3 pounds beef shoulder – get grassfed beef online here
- 1/2 cup sprouted flour or 1/2 cup arrowroot powder
- 4 tablespoons bacon fat, or coconut oil
- 5 teaspoons mild chili powder*
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 1/2 tablespoons sea salt, plus more to taste – this is my favorite sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper, plus more to taste
- 2 cups beef stock, or chicken stock – learn how to make beef stock here
- 7 ounces tomato paste – this is my favorite tomato paste in glass jars
*This is a mild version of this dish. If you prefer more spice, feel free to add some hotter chili powder.
Chili Colorado method
- Preheat your slow cooker on high. Mince the onion and garlic. Cut the beef into 1 inch cubes.
- Place flour or arrowroot and beef in a large bowl; toss to coat.
- In large skillet, melt half the bacon fat or coconut oil over medium high heat. Brown the beef well on all sides.
- Transfer browned beef to the slow cooker, and reduce heat to low.
- Back at the stove, add the remaining bacon fat or coconut oil and the onions, garlic, chili powder, cumin, sea salt, and black pepper. Cook until the onions begin to soften.
- Add the stock to deglaze the pan (scraping brown bits off the bottom). Stir in tomato paste. When well combined, carefully use an immersion blender (tilting the pan as necessary to avoid splatter) to puree the sauce to smooth.
- Pour blended sauce into slow cooker. Cover and cook for 6-8 hours on low, until the meat is tender and falls apart easily when mashed with a fork. Serve.