Chili Con Carne
3 tablespoon ancho chili powder (or 3 medium pods, about 1/2 ounce, toasted and ground)
3 tablespoon new mexico chili powder (or 3 medium pods, about 3/4 ounce, toasted and ground)
2 tablespoon cumin seeds (toasted in a dry skillet over medium heat until fragrant, about 4 minutes, and ground)
2 teaspoon dried oregano (preferably Mexican)
7 1/2 cup water (divided)
4 pound beef chuck roast (trimmed of excess fat and cut into 1 inch cubes)
2 teaspoon Salt (plus extra for seasoning)
8 ounce bacon (7 or 8 slices cut into 1/4 inch pieces)
1 onion (medium in size)
5 clove garlic (medium in size, minced)
4 jalapeno pepper (small, cored, seeded and minced)
1 cup tomatoes (canned crushed, or plain tomato sauce)
2 tablespoon lime juice (from 1 medium lime)
5 tablespoon masa harina (or 3 tablespoons cornstarch)
black pepper, ground (to taste)
- 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.
- 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; sauté 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; sauté until softened, 5 to 6 minutes. Add garlic and jalapeño; sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add chili paste; sauté 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.
- 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.
- 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: corn bread or chips, corn tortillas, 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.
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