You might think that the tender chunks of slow-braised beef are the star of this dish, but it’s the smoky red sauce that really steals the show. Whether you dish it up taco-style with queso fresco and cilantro (um, highly recommended, always) or just curl up with a big bowl and a fat stack of flour tortillas, this is the dinner to get us through this snowy winter.
The first time I remember seeing Chile Colorado on a menu was at a Chinese restaurant. The name didn’t sound particularly authentic and neither did the description of ‘mexican spices’. I’ll never know why I ordered it other than because it was the dead of winter, below zero and snowing, and something about it just sounded really great in that moment.
I practically dove into that tureen of neon-red sauce and scooped out every last drop with a generous stack of flour tortillas. Rationally, if I tried it again today I probably wouldn’t think much of the version at that Chinese restaurant, but it was so perfect that one time that I’ve forever associated the dish with comfort food.
The flavor you’ll find in freshly dried chiles is unbeatable, so look for dried ancho, pasilla, arbol, or guajillo chiles if you can. They should be soft and pliable, not brittle. If not, bags of ground red chiles are usually stocked in the Mexican aisle of most grocery stores.
Just please, don’t try to make this with a jar of generic ‘chili powder’ that’s been hanging out in your cupboard for years. You will smoke yourself out or have a strange metallic aftertaste or end up with zero flavor or possibly some strange combination of the three. Using the wrong spices is the greatest danger to really delicious food.
Bundle up for the weekend and get cozy with a big bowl of stew!
You might crave Chile Colorado for its tender chunks of slow-braised beef, but it's the rich, smoky red sauce that steals the show! Whether you dish it up taco-style or heaped in a bowl, this is the comfort-food dinner that'll get us through winter.
- 2 T. oil
- 3 lb. beef roast
- 1/4 cup freshly ground dried red chiles or chile molido puro
- 1 T. ground cumin
- 2 cups beef broth
- 1 cup fresh orange juice
- 4 chipotle peppers in adobo minced
- 2 T. fish sauce
- 1 T. white vinegar
- 2 onions halved & thinly sliced
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- flour tortillas for dipping
- corn tortillas lightly fried
- queso fresco
- red onion thinly sliced
- cilantro roughly chopped
- limes cut into wedges
Heat oil in a large cast iron skillet over high heat until shimmering. Pat the surface of the beef roast with paper towels to remove as much moisture as possible.
Brown all sides of the roast in the hot skillet, then transfer to roast to slow cooker. Drain any excess oil from the skillet and reduce heat to low.
Add red chile powder and cumin to the skillet and toast until fragrant, stirring constantly.
Pour broth, orange juice, chipotle peppers, fish sauce, and vinegar into the skillet. Bring to a simmer, whisking often and scraping the bottom.
Arrange sliced onions and garlic on top of the roast in the slow cooker, then pour chile sauce over the onions.
Cook on high for 4 hours or on low for 8 hours.
When the roast is done, stir with tongs to break the meat into bite-sized pieces.