Hand Cut Chili

Prep: 10 minutes

Cook: 1 hour and 15 minutes

Serves: 6

This recipe is from Phil Ferrato, the chef for the staff at Wired Magazine. He makes this recipe for the employees at the magazine and cooks it for a crowd. You can reduce the ingredients proportionately if you want to cook for fewer people.


5 lbs Niman Ranch hand cut beef for chili

½ cup vegetable oil

2 quarts strained tomato

3 medium white onions, chopped fine

2 heads garlic, chopped fine or pressed

2 Tbsp dried epazote (a specialty herb)

2 Tbsp dried oregano

2 Tbsp dried thyme

2 Tbsp cumin seed

2 Tbsp ground ancho and pasilla chilis, or paste (see note below)

1 tsp ground chipotle chilis

¼ cup sea salt


  1. In a heavy pot large enough to contain all the ingredients, heat the oil over medium heat, add the remaining ingredients (save the chili beef) and cook the mixture for about 15 minutes, making sure it doesn’t start to brown. Add small amounts water if the mixture gets too dry. Add about 2 quarts strained tomato and cook for about 30 minutes, adjusting seasoning to taste. Add five pounds Niman Ranch hand cut beef for chili and simmer gently for about 40 minutes. Do not allow the mixture to boil; it will get tough, watery and grainy. You can add cooked pinto beans to the meat chili if desired. This chili tastes best reheated the next day.
  2. Serve it with Basmati rice, crème fraiche or sour cream and tomatillo salsa or salsa of your choice. Sliced avocado are a great garnish.

The chef’s notes on Ingredients:

Pomi brand strained tomatoes are recommended. For the ground chilis, you can buy ground red chilis and chipotle in bulk spice departments of specialty grocery stores. To make the chili paste, soak whole dried chilis in warm water. De-seed and stem, puree in a food processor and add to recipe to taste. Be sure to wear rubber gloves! Even ground chilis should be handled with care.