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Spicy Meaty Chili

Jason Santos' Short Rib Sandwich + Quahog Chowder, Ben Ford's Mojo Ribs + Meat Chili
Jason Santos' Short Rib Sandwich + Quahog Chowder, Ben Ford's Mojo Ribs + Meat ChiliNathan Congleton / TODAY

Chef notes

This classic chili brings all the earthy, spicy, meaty flavors you're looking for. The creamy avocado adds a cooling element to this hearty dish.


  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon smoked sweet paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon New Mexico chile powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon chipotle chile powder or 1 teaspoon pureed chipotle in adobo
  • 1 pound ground turkey or beef
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken stock or water, plus more as needed
  • One 12-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • One 15-ounce can pinto or kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
Mashed avocado
  • 1 ripe Hass avocado, pitted and peeled
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/2 lime, juiced
To serve
  • Mashed avocado (recipe above)
  • Shredded cheddar cheese
  • White onion, finely diced
  • Cilantro leaves
  • 1 Serrano chile, thinly sliced into rings


For the chili:


Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions, sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and sauté until translucent and softened, about 15 minutes.


Add the garlic and sauté for about 1 minute (don't let it brown). Add the chili powder, paprika, cumin, cayenne, red pepper flakes, coriander, and New Mexico and chipotle chile powders. Sauté, stirring constantly, for about 2 minutes to integrate the flavors.


Add the meat, season with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, and cook, stirring and breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, until the meat is evenly browned, about 15 minutes.


Add the stock, tomatoes (including their juices), beans, oregano and sugar. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer the chili, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes or more, until it is thick.


Taste for seasoning and add more salt or pepper to taste.

For the mashed avocado:

Put the avocado in a bowl. Sprinkle liberally with salt, add lime juice and mash with a fork.

To serve:

Spoon chili into bowls. Garnish with mashed avocado, diced white onion, cheddar cheese, cilantro and sliced serranos chiles.