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!
- 4 guajillo chile
- 4 New Mexico chile
- 2 arbol chile
- 1 ancho chile
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 onion
- 3 lbs chuck roast
- 4 cups beef stock
- 3 bay leaves
- cumin, coriander, oregano, apple cider vinegar
Sear and soak the chiles (see notes)
Blend the soaked chiles and garlic with two cups beef broth
Dice onion and cook in a little vegatable oil until it starts to brown
Trim excess fat from chuck roast and cut into cubes
Coat with flour, season with salt and pepper and sear in a large pot
Add browned onion and blended chile sauce to the beef
Add bay leaves and remaininng two cups beef stock to beef
Cover and simmer on low heat
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
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)
Likewise I add apple cider vinegar to cut through the fattiness as well (see notes)
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.
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.
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!
Hi I’m Stuart, professional food writer and long time eater. You can find my writing at places like Gastronomic SLC, Visit Salt Lake, The Salt Lake Tribune, Utah Stories, Utah Now Online and many others.
As well as writing extensively about restaurants for more than fifteen years, I’m endlessly curious about that product on the shelf. Is it any good I wonder? If you’re like me, wonder no more. Follow along on Instagram too!