New Mexico / Colorado Family Style Chile Rojo

My family recipe, with my own touches of which mi querida mama would never approve. Halving, doubling or something in between all work. Season according to your taste. Enjoy with a bowl of good pinto beans or over a fried egg.


  • 2 pounds (~2KG) ground beef
  • 1/2 large white (or yellow) onion, diced
  • 4 (more or less) cloves, finely chopped or pressed
  • 2 TB of oil (either neutral or left from frying beef)
  • 2 TB flour
  • 1 TB oregano
  • 1 tsp dried epazote (or a few leaves of fresh)
  • 1 tsp sugar, any (piloncillo or jaggery are good)
  • 1.5 tsp salt, or more to taste
  • pinch of ground clove (very optional)
  • Quart (about a liter) of water (more or less, depending on chile combination and desired consistency, see below)

For acidity use any combination of the below until it’s right:

  • 1 TB cider or other vinegar
  • 2 TB tomato paste
  • 1 TB ketchup (seriously, it’s every pocho’s secret ingredient)
  • 1 tomato, chopped

Chili options:

  • 8-10 dried Guajillo, New Mexico, or Ancho chili pods OR
  • 1/4 cup New Mexico chili powder OR
  • combination of the above, until it’s just right


Prepare Chili

If using dried chiles,

  1. Lightly toast the chiles over flame or in a hot pan until it makes you cough a little (you can also toast some unpeeled garlic cloves).
  2. Pour very hot water over toasted chiles, put plate over chiles to keep them submerged.
  3. After 30 minutes, remove stem and seeds and process chiles in Whirrinator (blender) along with garlic cloves (peeled raw or toasted), some chile water (not all–just enough to make it into a loose paste), set aside.

If using powdered chile,

  1. Pour very hot water over the powder, up to about a quart (liter), set aside.


  1. Fry the beef in a good pan until it just loses its rawness
  2. Using a slotted spoon, transfer beef to a bowl
  3. Saving about 2TB of oil (add oil if necessary), cook chopped onion in that same pan
  4. When onion is a little translucent, add the beef back cook for a few minutes more
  5. Add flour and cook for several minutes more still
  6. Add your prepared chile, the acidic ingredients, and all spices except for clove
  7. Add a shot of tequila to either the chile and/or enjoy one yourself if the mood strikes
  8. Cook until it’s just right
  9. Enjoy with friends and family, or make it extra hot and feed to frenemies.

¡Buen provecho!