Butterfield Stageline Chili

Makes 4 Quarts
A Bowl of Red (Mad Hungry, page 148), Chicken Chipotle (www.madhungry.com) and this-here youngest one, the Butterfield Stageline, all possess different personalities and attributes. And, like the boys, they alternate their moments in the sun. A persnickety cook friend recently switched from his own beloved recipe to this one. It stands out because of the ground pork and cubed beef brisket combination, which brings a texture, chew, and mouthfeel that I love in chili. This version comes from an old-time formula reputed to have fed stagecoach customers at way stations along the Butterfield line, which ran from St. Louis down through the Southwest and on to California. Cheddar Drop Biscuits (page 132), torn up and dragged through the sauciness, are all I need to complete it.


  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 4 pounds beef brisket, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 pounds ground pork
  • 2 large white onions, chopped
  • 4 Anaheim chilies (6 ounces), chopped
  • 1 Scotch bonnet chili, minced (remove ribs and seeds for less heat, if desired)
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 2 (28-ounce) cans whole peeled plum tomatoes in juice
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • Sour cream, for garnish
  • Soda crackers, for garnish


  1. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a wide, heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven. Season brisket with salt and pepper and brown in two batches and transfer to a plate.
  2. Add remaining 2 tablespoons oil to pot along with pork, onions, chilies, and garlic. Saute, stirring occasionally, until pork is no longer pink and most of the liquid has evaporated, 6-8 minutes.
  3. Stir in tomato paste, oregano, chili powder, and cumin and continue cooking, 2 more minutes.
  4. In a blender, puree one can of tomatoes and stir into chili along with remaining tomatoes and chicken broth. Return brisket to pot.
  5. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until beef is fork-tender, 3-3 1/2 hours.
  6. Serve with sour cream and soda crackers.
cook's note
Note: This chunky chili uses brisket cut into medium pieces. If you don’t have the time or patience to prep your meat that way, ask your butcher to do so. Most will be
happy to accommodate you, especially if you give them a big smile.
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