To ensure the best chile flavor, I recommend toasting whole dried chiles and grinding them in a mini-chopper or spice-dedicated coffee grinder, all of which takes only ten (very well-spent) minutes. Select dried chiles that are moist and pliant, like dried fruit. Count on trimming one-half to a full pound of waste from your chuck roast, so start with a four-pound roast to end up with three to three-and-a-half pounds of beef cubes. For hotter chili, boost the heat with a pinch of cayenne, a dash of hot pepper sauce, or crumbled pequin chiles near the end of cooking. Serve the chili with any of the following side dishes: warm pinto or kidney beans, corn bread or chips, corn tortillas or tamales, rice, biscuits, or just plain crackers, and top with any of the following garnishes: chopped fresh cilantro leaves, minced white onion, diced avocado, shredded cheddar or jack cheese, or sour cream.
- 3 tablespoons ancho chili powder or 3 medium pods (about 1/2 ounce), toasted and ground
- 3 tablespoons New Mexico chili powder or 3 medium pods (about 3/4 ounce), toasted and ground
- 2 tablespoons cumin seeds toasted in a dry skillet over medium heat until fragrant, about 4 minutes, and ground
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano preferably Mexican
- 7 1/2 cups water
- 1 beef chuck roast (4-pounds), trimmed of excess fat and cut into 1-inch cubes
- 2 teaspoons table salt plus extra for seasoning
- 8 ounces bacon (7 or 8 slices), cut into 1/4-inch pieces
- 1 medium onion minced (about 1 cup)
- 5 medium cloves of garlic minced
- 4 - 5 small jalapeno chiles cored, seeded, and minced
- 1 cup crushed tomatoes or plain tomato sauce
- 2 tablespoons lime juice from 1 medium lime
- 5 tablespoons masa harina or 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- ground black pepper
1. Mix chili powders, cumin, and oregano in small bowl and stir in 1/2 cup water to form thick paste; set aside. Toss beef cubes with salt; set aside.
2. Fry bacon in large, heavy soup kettle or Dutch oven over medium-low heat until fat renders and bacon crisps, about 10 minutes. Remove bacon with slotted spoon to paper towel-lined plate; pour all but 2 teaspoons fat from pot into small bowl; set aside. Increase heat to medium-high; saute meat in four batches until well-browned on all sides, about 5 minutes per batch, adding additional 2 teaspoons bacon fat to pot as necessary. Reduce heat to medium, add 3 tablespoons bacon fat to now-empty pan. Add onion; saute until softened, 5 to 6 minutes. Add garlic and jalapeno; saute until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add chili paste; saute until fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Add reserved bacon and browned beef, crushed tomatoes or tomato sauce, lime juice, and 7 cups water; bring to simmer. Continue to cook at a steady simmer until meat is tender and juices are dark, rich, and starting to thicken, about 2 hours.
3. Mix masa harina with 2/3 cup water (or cornstarch with 3 tablespoons water) in a small bowl to form smooth paste. Increase heat to medium; stir in paste and simmer until thickened, 5 to 10 minutes. Adjust seasoning generously with salt and ground black pepper. Serve immediately, or preferably, cool slightly, cover, and refrigerate overnight or for up to 5 days. Reheat before serving.
from Cooks Illustrated
Yield: 6 servings