Chile Colorado recipe

Hands up time! While absolutely delicious, I’ve no idea how authentic this recipe is. As a native Brit, there’s not a hint of South American cooking expertise in my lineage. The following recipe is something I’ve cobbled together over months of trial and error and reading countless online recipes and cookbooks. Some authentic, some not.

Ultimately I tweaked and tested until I ended up with a dish that I personally love: a spicy chile-based sauce with rich and slowly cooked beef. There’s quite a few notes with this one, scroll down.

Note: this is a fairly mild version, double the arbol chiles for a spicier take, or triple for a fiery finish!

Chile Colorado recipe
Prep Time
45 mins
Cook Time
4 hrs
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Servings: 4
  • 4 guajillo chile
  • 4 New Mexico chile
  • 2 arbol chile
  • 1 ancho chile
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 onion
  • 3 lbs chuck roast
  • flour
  • 4 cups beef stock
  • 3 bay leaves
  • cumin, coriander, oregano, apple cider vinegar
  1. Sear and soak the chiles (see notes)

  2. Blend the soaked chiles and garlic with two cups beef broth

  3. Dice onion and cook in a little vegatable oil until it starts to brown

  4. Trim excess fat from chuck roast and cut into cubes

  5. Coat with flour, season with salt and pepper and sear in a large pot

  6. Add browned onion and blended chile sauce to the beef

  7. Add bay leaves and remaininng two cups beef stock to beef

  8. Cover and simmer on low heat

  9. Depending on the size of your cubed beef it will take 3-4 hours for the beef to start to fully break down. When you can start to shred it with a fork and little effort youre almost there

  10. In the final 30 minutes of cooking I like to add a little cumin and ground coriander to offse the richness of the beef (see notes)

  11. Likewise I add apple cider vinegar to cut through the fattiness as well (see notes)

Chile Colorado cooked
Chile Colorado cooked

Chile toasting and soaking

Before you can use dried chiles you will first need to quickly toast them in a pan, before soaking in hot water for 45 minutes. I like to heat a frying pan (don’t use a non stick pan here) and once hot, add the dried chiles on by one to the pan for no more than 30-60 seconds. If you see smoke or char, you’ve gone too far and you’ll end up with bitter and acrid chiles – don’t use these.

Once seared, you’ll want to add them to just boiled liquid (beef stock here) and cover. Leave for about 30-45 minutes and the chiles will re-hydrate; this is the stuff of magic and the base of the sauce.

You can add the chiles and soaking water directly to a blender and blitz on high speed till its a terra-cotta red hued gravy.

Taste, tweak and taste again

The end of my recipe is intentionally vague. There’s some intensive work up front, a little tweaking at the end, but for the most part your slowly simmering delicious rich beef for several hours until it breaks down and develops a fantastic richness. There’s not much to do until the latter stages.

First up you’ll want to add some salt, use your judgment. Remember more is less, you can always add later, but you can’t take it out if you use too much!.

I usually also add 1-2 tsp of both cumin and ground coriander, earthy spices that offset the rich beef flavor. Speaking of which 1-2 tablespoons of sweet apple cider vinegar work wonders in cutting through the richness too.

I like to add these ingredients towards the end as the flavor profile of these two spices (and the vinegar too) will break down with extended cooking. If you add them earlier, they’ll simply be lost.

Chile Colorado close up
Chile Colorado close up

This is also one of those slow Sunday afternoon cook all day type of dishes; you’ll be returning to the pot, stirring and checking in all day. Depending on your mood you might decide to finish with a zesty flourish of finely chopped cilantro or tablespoon or two of assertive oregano – both valid – both great. It really depends on your mood and how the dish is coming together. Speaking of which…

Skimming off excess fat

Chuck roast can be a really fatty cut of beef. Depending on how well you and/or your butcher has trimmed the meat, you might end up with an oily mass starting to pool on the surface of your Chile Colorado around the three hour mark.

You may LOVE this – if you stir the sauce you can easily re-integrate this rendered fat. It will keep trying to separate and you’ll need to keep mixing it back in. I find when excess fat is pooling in large quantities, it’s a little much, it’s too rich if anything. If that’s the case, simply take a spoon and skim off the excess fat carefully from the sauce around the three hour mark.

And enjoy…

I love to enjoy Chile Colorado in a number of ways. Heck, just in a big bowl and dipped with some great bread is a quality meal. Obviously it also works well as part of a composed entree (rice, bean, salsa etc) or inside a burrito, taco or enchilada. I’ve been known to throw some on a Hoagie roll with ranch sauce (I’m a heathen I know) for lunch!

Chile Colorado roll
Chile Colorado roll
Come join our Facebook grocery group - and keep the discussion going! Talk about this, or any other food product with like minded home cooks and shoppers. Also share what you've been cooking up, and what you've found on yoru latest grocery shop. Join the conversation here.

Leave a Comment

Recipe Rating