The Ultimate Bowl of Red: Smoke-Roasted Holy Grail Wagyu Chili

Smoke-Roasted Holy Grail Wagyu Chili Recipe

In advance of National Chili Day—February 24—we decided to do a deep dive into one of North America’s favorite foods: chili. Our goal was to create a competition-worthy bowl of red that would blow all previous attempts out of the water. We established Super Bowl Sunday as “C-Day,” knowing we’d have eager taste-testers on hand. The verdict? Suffice it to say there were only dregs left in our Dutch oven at the end of the day. Evidence of a big win, in our book.

Chili enthusiasts (few people know chili came from Spain’s Canary Islands through San Antonio) are notorious for harboring “secret” ingredients and/or recipes. But we love to share our successes: Our “secret” ingredient was Tajima American Wagyu ground beef from one of the best meat purveyors we’ve encountered—Holy Grail Steak, Inc. (Holy Grail is one of few online retailers of authentic Kobe beef in the U.S. Find them at

The coarsely-ground, vacuum-sealed ground beef (in two 2-pound packages) arrived well-insulated with a brick of dry ice in an elegant black cardboard box we couldn’t bear to add to the recycling bin. (It’s that nice.) We kept the meat frozen until needed, then thawed it for a day in the refrigerator.

We knew we wanted to—what else?—make the chili on the grill with a flavor-enhancing dose of wood smoke. (The chili can be made on a charcoal or gas grill, a pellet smoker, or even over a campfire.)

Smoke Roasted Holy Grail Wagyu Chili Charcoal

So excited were we to try our new recipe that we purchased a bright red cast iron Dutch oven and hand-thrown pottery bowls for the occasion.

The day dawned sunny but a little cold—the high reached a blistering zero degrees—but undaunted, we lit a chimneyful of natural charcoal. The first order of business was to “caveman” two or three poblano peppers and some onion wedges. (“Cavemanning” means to roast directly in the embers.) The recipe only calls for one poblano, but we like to do extras for cornbread or other chile-receptive dishes. When slightly cool, we stemmed them, trimmed off any really charred bits, then diced.

Caveman Poblano

We browned the Tajima American Wagyu ground beef in the pot directly over the fire until it rendered its fat. You could spoon some of the fat off at this point, but knowing that fat equals flavor, we left it in. (Though known for its intramuscular marbling, the ground Wagyu was not excessively fatty.)

Dutch Oven

A mixture of spices, including pure chile powder and freshly ground cumin, was added to the meat and sautéed until fragrant. The remaining ingredients, including the reserved poblano and onions, were then added to the pot, along with beef stock and a splash of beer. The chili then simmered in an intoxicating cloud of wood smoke until the flavors melded. Brown sugar and bittersweet chocolate were added for balance, as were several cans of pre-cooked pinto and kidney beans.


Serve with your choice of accompaniments.

Smoke-Roasted Holy Grail Wagyu Chili

Smoke-Roasted Holy Grail Wagyu Chili Recipe

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