Chili Day

May. 19th, 2013 03:42 pm
vambot5: (CBX)
[personal profile] vambot5
It's chili day at vambot5's hacienda, and I am posting my chili recipe for all of LJ. I make a pretty traditional Texas-style chili. I commented to a friend that it's funny that despite my mom's family being from Texas, I am the only one in the family who makes proper Texas chili. I loved her response: "Social liberal, Chili conservative."

Ingredients:
3 pounds beef chuck roast, cut into cubes about 1/2 inch
1 large white onion, chopped
3 big cloves garlic, minced
High-temperature vegetable oil
1 can chopped tomatoes, drained (non-traditional, but the acid helps; in the alternative, use apple cider vinegar)
~12 ancho chiles (start with more than you think you will need, because often a few will be moldy inside)
~1 cup dark beer, flat (I usually use Shiner Bock, because Texas, but today I'm using Marshall Pub Ale)
1 quart beef stock
1 heaping tablespoon comino seeds, crushed with a mortar & pestle
2 tablespoons paprika
1 heaping tablespoon of dried Mexican oregano
Salt and Pepper
1-2 tablespoons of cornstarch or masa
Hot sauce or cayenne to taste. I usually don't use fresh chiles in my recipe because so many people I know can't handle spicy food, and fresh chiles can vary dramatically in how hot they are.

Non-Ingredients: tomato sauce, tomato paste, beans, pre-mixed chili powder, MSG. The color from the chili should be from chiles, not tomato.

Heat a skillet (ideally cast iron) on very high heat. In batches, blister the anchos. You want them to blister but not burn--if they get black and crispy, throw them out. They should soften just a bit and balloon up. Wearing rubber gloves, cut off the tops, scrape out the seeds, and tear them into small pieces. Put them in a bowl and top with boiling water. Set aside to reconstitute.

Toss the beef cubes with some salt and pepper. Get a heavy-bottom pot or dutch oven and crank up to high heat, adding about 1 tbsp of oil to the bottom. Brown the meat in batches, just enough to get some color. Add more oil if necessary. Keep the beef in a large paper towel-lined bowl.

Turn down the heat to medium and add a bit more oil. Add the onions and cook until soft, then add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly. Add the cumin and the paprika, stirring constantly (the spices are prone to burning). Add the beef back to the pot and toss together. Turn up the heat and cook, still stirring constantly, until most of the liquid from the meat is cooked off.

Add the beer and scrape all the bits off the bottom of the pot. If you want to skip the beer, just add some stock at this step. Bring to a boil and add the tomatoes and the oregano. Add the stock and reduce to a simmer. Put the lid on the pot but leave a gap so the fumes can escape and make your house smell like it's chili day.

Now, back to the chiles. Using a blender or food processor, puree the chiles with some of the liquid until you get a smooth, pourable paste. Pour the chile paste into the pot and bring to a full boil, then reduce to a simmer. Add a pinch of salt and a few twists from the pepper mill. At this point, it should smell like proper chili.

Let the chili simmer for about two hours. After one hour, taste the chili and adjust the seasonings. You may need to add some vinegar at this stage to brighten the flavor.

When the meat is tender and the flavors have melded, take it off the heat and let it rest for about 30 minutes. Then, bring it back to a boil and add 1-2 tablespoons of cornstarch or masa mixed with cold water--masa is more traditional, but cornstarch is better at thickening. Boil for about one minute, stirring constantly, then remove from heat (or reduce to a bare simmer if you need to keep it warm).

Serve to taste. I recommend Fritos or corn tortillas, hot sauce (something very hot and not too vinegary, like El Yucateco; the chili should have the right amount of acidity already), chopped onion, and a dollop of sour cream. I admit, I like to add some pinto beans, but I always cook them separately and add them to the bowl (not to the pot) at the serving stage. Pair with the beer you used in the chili. Add enough hot sauce to make you sweat a little--it makes the beer taste better.
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