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Relajo Steak Chili

I know plenty of chili "purists" out there who will rabidly disagree with me, but I am a firm believer that you can never have too many chili recipes in your repertoire. Chili is endlessly customizable and ALWAYS a good idea, whether it's freezing outside or you're enduring a heat wave. Need a Meatless Monday meal that will satisfy everyone in your household? Chili. Wondering what to do with that stew meat or ground turkey or chicken breast in the freezer? Chili. You get the idea.

Now, instead of just your usual chili powder (and maybe cumin), this chili gets a deep, nuanced flavor from relajo, which can most easily be described as a dry spice version of a Mexican mole sauce. I make my relajo using a blend of five different chiles (pasilla, guajillo, arbol, California and New Mexico), along with star anise, cinnamon, bay leaf, coriander, pepitas (pumpkin seeds), sesame seeds, achiote, oregano, cumin, and cocoa powder. It's rich and complex, and SMELLS AMAZING. You can get yours here.

Let's get cooking, shall we?

Relajo Steak Chili

Serves 8


  • 1/4 cup neutral oil (I use grapeseed), divided

  • 2 pounds bottom round roast, cut into 1-inch cubes (pre-cut beef stew meat works great as well)

  • Kosher salt and black pepper

  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

  • 1 large yellow onion, diced

  • 4-5 garlic cloves, minced

  • 4 tablespoons Five-Chile Relajo spice blend

  • 1 12-ounce bottle of dark beer (try Modelo Negra or Dos Equis Amber)

  • 3 cups low-sodium (or homemade!) chicken stock

  • 1 15-ounce can peeled tomatoes

  • 4 15-ounce cans beans (I used black and cannellini beans, but you could just as easily use pinto or kidney beans if that's what you've got in the pantry. Also, we REALLY like beans in our household. You can use less if you'd like.)

  • Toppings of choice: We love pepper jack cheese, Greek yogurt (or sour cream), pickled red onion, avocado, sliced serrano chiles, cilantro, fresh lime, and tortilla chips


Heat a couple of tablespoons of oil in a large Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Season the beef with salt and pepper and then toss with flour to coat. Brown the beef in two or three batches (adding oil if necessary) and transfer to a bowl and set aside. Don't worry about the crust that develops on the bottom of the pot. That is called the "fond" and will help to make your chili extra delicious.

Once all the beef has been browned, add the onions and garlic to the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent and softened. Add the Five-Chile Relajo and stir for about 30 seconds until it is nice and fragrant and the onion and garlic are fully coated.

Add the beer and use a wooden spoon to scrape the fond from the bottom of the pot. Allow the beer to reduce almost fully, stirring occasionally. Using your hands, crush the tomatoes as you add them to the pot, followed by the chicken stock, browned beef, and beans. Bring the chili to a boil then simmer for about 45 minutes, until the beef is tender and the flavors have melded.

Season with salt to taste and then serve with ALL your favorite toppings.

Suggested Drink Pairing: I'm partial to beer with my chili, but a juicy Syrah or Mourvedre would be really delightful with the complex spices in this recipe. Can't decide between the two? Try a GSM (Grenache/Syrah/Mourvedre) blend.

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