the tao of bobby flay

The Tao of Flay can be summed up thus: Layered. Spicy. Southwest.

Also: fussy.

Since, like my friend B. Flay, I can never leave well enough alone, I figure I am an ideal devotee. And since Billy loves all things layered, spicy, and southwest in the first place, we have basically formed a house of worship here on Melrose Court.

There were the BBQ Chicken Quesadillas with Grilled Tomato Salsa and Buttermilk Dressing, which have never not been a hit, or time-suck. And now, there is the Beef and Black Bean Chili with Toasted Cumin Crema and Avocado Relish. How long are those recipe titles?! It’s never just one thing; there’s always gotta be STUFF on top.

This chili is delicious, but alert: it is not your typical chili. (It’s also the first chili I’ve ever made, so like I care.) It’s not ground meat, but small cubes. There’s a definitively smoky aroma, not a whole mess o’ beans, and real depth of flavor (cumin, chili powder, chipotle, lime, avocado). And in case you didn’t guess from the ingredients list: yes, it’ll take you to Mexico.

The warm temperature and hot spices were the perfect antidote to the first freeze of the season, and I can tell we’ll be pulling it out again and again this winter.

Bobby Flay’s Beef and Black Bean Chili

(Via.) Can’t get excited about the extended time frame? Chili is an excellent candidate for your make-ahead files. The flavors will marinate together all the better.

Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 lb beef, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (I used the store’s “stew meat,” no need for a fancy cut)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 large red onion, finely diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp ancho chili powder
  • 1 tbsp pasilla chili powder (I couldn’t find this, and simply omitted)
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 bottle dark beer
  • 5 cups chicken stock
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can chopped tomatoes, drained and pureed
  • 1 tbsp chipotle pepper puree*
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 2 cups cooked or canned black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 tbsp fresh lime juice

Heat the oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over high heat. Add meat and sear all over, seasoning liberally with salt and pepper. You want the oil very hot so it puts a nice, dark crust on the meat (flavor!) without cooking it through — that’s what an hour in the chili will do later. Remove meat with tongs and pour out all but 3 tbsp of the oil and rendered fat.


Lower heat to a medium flame. Add diced red onion and cook until soft, about six minutes. Add the garlic and cook two minutes (careful not to burn!). Add both chili powders and cumin and cook two minutes more. Add the beer and cook down until completely reduced. It will look like a sludgy witch’s brew: persevere!



Return beef to the pan and add chicken stock, pureed tomatoes, chipotle puree, and honey. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cover pot and simmer for 45 minutes.

Add the beans, and continue cooking for 15 minutes. If the chili looks too soupy for your liking, leave the pot uncovered for this period; otherwise, keep covered.

Before serving, add the lime juice and adjust seasoning to taste. Top with a dollop of toasted cumin crema and avocado relish.

* Can’t find “chipotle pepper puree” in your grocery store? You may either: (a) Dump the contents of canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce in a blender, and pulse into a puree, OR (b) soak dried chipotle peppers until hot and whiz in a blender with some lime and garlic until smooth.

Toasted Cumin Crema

  • 1 tbsp cumin seed
  • 1 cup Mexican crema or creme fraiche
  • salt and pepper to taste

Toast the cumin seeds in a dry pan over a medium flame until fragrant and golden brown. Place in a small bowl and stir in thick cream. Season to taste.

Avocado Relish

  • 2 ripe avocados, peeled, pitted and diced
  • 1/2 small red onion, finely diced
  • 1 jalapeno, finely diced
  • lime juice
  • chopped cilantro leaves
  • salt and pepper to taste

Combine the ingredients in a bowl and season to taste.

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