Southwest Cowboy Chili From 'Nom Nom Paleo'

Southwestern Cowboy Chili
Photograph: Henry Fong

Big, meaty entrées are the first thing I think of when I think of the Paleo diet. Think steak topped with bacon topped with steak, all fried in lard. The cowboy chili in Michelle Tam's new cookbook, Nom Nom Paleo, fits right in with those expectations, but it also wouldn't be out of place in any other omnivorous American cookbook. Her chili is made primarily with chuck roast, which gets seared in (you guessed it) bacon fat and then simmered in bone broth with an ancho chile-based spice blend. Unsweetened chocolate gives the chili a bit of bitter depth, and smoked paprika adds a whiff of campfire.

Why I picked this recipe: Looking for a way to use my long simmered bone broth, I figured a meat-filled chili was the best choice.

What worked: This chili was super easy to put together, and the oven's gentle heat turned the chuck roast spoon-tender.

What didn't: I wouldn't skip the toppings on this chili. Not only do they add a needed burst of color, but they also provide textural contrast to the tender long-stewed beef and a bite a of freshness.

Suggested tweaks: While the chuck roast works fairly well here, I prefer to use fattier boneless short ribs in chili (especially if using leaner grass-fed beef).

Reprinted with permission from Nom Nom Paleo: Food for Humans by Michelle Tam and Henry Fong. Copyright 2013. Published by Andrews McMeel Publishing, LLC. All rights reserved. Available wherever books are sold.

Recipe Facts



Active: 45 mins
Total: 12 hrs
Serves: 6 servings

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  • 1 (4-pound) beef chuck roast, cut into 2-inch cubes
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 4 slices bacon, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 1 medium yellow onion, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup ancho chile powder
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 6 cups Bone Broth or chicken stock, divided
  • 1 ounce unsweetened chocolate, shaved
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • Juice from 1 small lime
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 medium white onion, cut into 1/4-inch pieces (optional)
  • 1/2 cup minced fresh cilantro (optional)
  • 1/2 cup julienned radishes (optional)
  • 2 small limes, quartered (optional)


  1. Preheat the oven to 275°F. In a large bowl, toss the beef with the salt and set aside. Cook the bacon in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Stir occasionally to ensure even browning. Once it’s crisp, transfer the crunchy bacon to a platter with a slotted spoon.

  2. Increase the heat to medium-high. In batches, add the beef in a single layer to the bacon drippings in the Dutch oven, and brown the meat on two sides, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer the beef to a plate.

  3. Lower the heat to medium, and add the yellow onion and tomato paste. Sauté until the onion is tender and translucent, about 5 minutes. In the meantime, combine the chile powder, cumin, oregano, paprika, and 1/2 cup of the stock in a small bowl. Mix until smooth, and then stir in the chocolate shavings.

  4. When the onion is soft, stir in the garlic and chili-chocolate mixture, and cook for 1 minute or until fragrant. Add the seared beef, cooked bacon, the remaining 5 1/2 cups broth, and the lime juice. Stir well. Increase the heat to high and bring the contents of the Dutch oven up to a boil. Cover, but leave the lid slightly ajar. Place the pot in the oven, and cook for 3 hours or until the meat is fork-tender.

  5. Season with salt and pepper, and place the chili in the refrigerator overnight or up to 5 days to enable the flavors to meld. Reheat on the stove, and if desired, top with chopped white onion, cilantro, radishes, and limes.