Monday, March 3, 2014

Secret Ingredient Brisket Chili

Here in Texas, it's Rodeo season! It's all anyone talks about this time of year. What a perfect time for me to share with you my husband's recipe for his famous brisket chili. Y'all (yes, "y'all"--it's fitting for the season, ha!) this is the best chili I have ever tasted. Words fail me here, but it is amazingly good.
If you're planning on having a rodeo party, or gearing up for a chili cook-off and want to finally beat that neighbor down the street, give this recipe a try!

This is definitely a weekend chili--meaning it's a little bit of a time commitment. We're not talking about throwing a few cans of beans and tomatoes together with some ground beef. Just trust me, though, when I say that the time commitment is totally worth it. I'm using lots of bold letters today, but that's how strongly I feel when I say you must try this recipe! :)
This chili is spicy; at a recent chili cook-off I overheard someone say they ate some of this chili and could still feel the burn after tasting three other bowls of chili. We like it that way (although I confess I keep a stack of Kleenex next to me when I eat it), but cut down on the peppers a little bit if you don't like your chili to have too much of a kick.

Are you ready to know what the secret ingredient is? I bet you can't guess...

Yep, it's coffee! Sounds weird, doesn't it? I know you're probably feeling a little apprehensive about this, but trust me, it's delicious! This chili uses ground coffee in the brisket rub and brewed coffee in the chili itself. I'm not a coffee drinker myself, so I was skeptical when my husband told me he was going to add coffee. I promise there is no "coffee flavor" to this chili, just an added depth of flavor. According to my husband, "when people taste this chili, the accolades pour forth in abundance, people find hope in their darkest hour, and the minstrels weep in exuberant jubilation."  And so far, no one has guessed or even believed that the secret ingredient to this chili is coffee. I don't know why it is, but something about the combination of flavors here works so well together!

We typically use a pre-marinated, pre-trimmed brisket, but you can also buy a plain brisket and use a rub or marinade of your own on it, in addition to the coffee and mesquite habanero spice, which can be purchased in a 3-pack using the link below.

*Scroll to the bottom of the post for a printable version of the recipe*

Brisket Rub
1/2 C (or more) ground coffee
Mesquite Habanero spice
We bought this stuff:

Or you could substitute some of your favorite spices; I would suggest some cayenne, garlic powder, onion powder, and possibly some liquid smoke.

3-5 lb brisket
32 oz canned chili beans, drained
3 ripe tomatoes
3 tomatillos 
4 cloves garlic
2 sweet onions
2 jalapeno peppers
1 poblano pepper
1 Anaheim pepper
1 can chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
5 dried ancho peppers
8 dried New Mexico peppers (also called Guajillo peppers)
3 C strong brewed coffee
2 T cumin
2 T Mexican oregano
2 C ketchup (we like Whataburger Spicy Ketchup--see link following ingredients. If you can't get that, you can try regular ketchup or add a teaspoon or two of Cayenne pepper)
1/2 C Sriracha sauce
1 T honey
1 T Worcestershire sauce
Salt & black pepper to taste
Optional:  Handful of dried Arbol peppers (My hubby adds these in, but they do add a lot of spice! As listed without the optional Arbol peppers, this is probably a 3 on a spicy-scale of 5.)
UPDATE 3/10/14: After receiving feedback from some more taste-testers, I've upped the spiciness to a 4 out of 5 without the Arbol peppers. If you like your food a little more mild, you may want to cut the amount of peppers in half.

If you're not using a pre-marinated brisket, apply brisket rub to all sides of brisket.
If you are using a pre-marinated brisket, begin at the next step.

Liberally rub ground coffee over entire surface of brisket. Sprinkle on mesquite habanero spice and rub in, as well. Place in roasting pan fat-side up.

Cook brisket at 350 degrees for 1 hour uncovered and then 2 hours covered (depending on weight of your brisket, cooking times will vary).

While brisket is cooking is an excellent time to do the rest of your prep work. All of the peppers, fresh and dried, will need to have the stems and seeds removed. (The canned chipotle peppers will be used just as they are).
Begin with the dried peppers. You will need to rehydrate and puree them. To do this, boil a few cups of water and add in the de-seeded, de-stemmed peppers. Boil for 15 minutes or until soft, then drain. Puree the peppers using an immersion blender, food processor, or blender. Add in the canned chipotle peppers, sauce and all, and puree them, as well.

While the dried peppers are rehydrating, remove the stems and seeds from the fresh peppers and dice them. Make sure to wear gloves when working with peppers!

"Two by two, hands of blue"...any Firefly fans in the house?

Dice the tomatoes, tomatillos, onions, and garlic. Yes, there's a lot of chopping! The minute you taste this chili, it will all be worth it!

When the brisket is fully cooked, remove it from the oven. Remove foil and let brisket cool for at least 20 minutes, preferably longer. This will help it retain some of the juices and flavor.

Place the brisket on a cutting board, but don't discard the fat and juices!

Okay, you can discard the fat and juices, if you absolutely must save on calories, but we just add it all into the chili, and it adds so much flavor. Come on, if you're making this chili, you're not concerned about calories. ;)

Slice the brisket, and then cut the slices into bite-sized pieces.

Okay, this is when your prep work finally starts coming together. The rest of this is a piece of cake!

Dump all of the ingredients into a large pot--the brisket, all the stuff you pureed and chopped, plus everything else on the list you haven't gotten to yet.

Give it all a good stir and let it simmer for at least 3 hours. We like to simmer it for several hours; the longer you simmer it, the better the flavors blend.

The heat will also dissipate some the longer the chili sits. We usually spend an afternoon/evening making the chili, let it simmer until we go to bed, put it in the fridge, and let it simmer some more the next day before we eat it (or reheat it in a crock pot).

Dish yourself up a bowl and top with some shredded cheddar and a dollop of sour cream. Enjoy eating the best chili you'll ever have!

Right-click the image below to download a printable version of the recipe.

Adapted from a recipe found at The Smoke Ring.


  1. Yummy! It looks delicious, and just about anything with coffee is good! Can't wait to try this one

    1. Thank you! It is so tasty, and well worth the time spent to make it!

  2. I love coffee, but have never cooked with it! Interesting, I bet it's a great rub, thank you!

    1. Jenna, I haven't either, and was super dubious when my husband started making this chili. The finished chili has no coffee taste at all, although you would think it would! Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Your Secret Ingredient Brisket Chili is going to be fantastic and I can't wait to taste it! Thanks so much for sharing with Full Plate Thursday, it is so nice to have you with us today. Have a great weekend and come back soon!
    Miz Helen

    1. Thanks Miz Helen! Always a pleasure joining it at Full Plate Thursday, and I think the chili will be a hit!