Hell’s Kitchen Chili

A chunky beef chili perfected in our friend Sidney⁏s kitchen, just off Ninth Avenue in the thirties, an area of New York City that’s always "hot" in itself. Hopefully you’ll have a square dance to go to or a calf to wrestle to work this off.


  • 3 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons good-quality chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
  • 2 pounds beef bottom round, cut into ½-inch cubes
  • 2 cups crushed tomatoes
  • cups homemade beef stock or canned broth
  • ½ cup tomato paste
  • 2 slices Canadian bacon, minced
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


  • Chopped red, yellow, and orange bell peppers (mixed)
  • Minced watercress or arugula
  • snipped fresh chives
  • Crumbled cooked bacon
  • Sour cream
  • Crumbled corn chips


  1. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a flameproof casserole or dutch oven. Add the onion, chili powder, cumin, oregano, and red pepper flakes. Cook over medium-low heat for 5 minutes.
  2. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, and brown the meat over high heat, in batches if necessary.
  3. Stir in the tomatoes, stock, tomato paste, Canadian bacon, and sugar. Simmer, uncovered, until the beef is tender, 1¾ hours, covering the pot when the mixture becomes thick. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Serve the chili in a large bowl, surrounded by small bowls of the garnishes.