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Tex-Mex Chili

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Serves four.

Yields 5 cups.

Chili purists may scorn the inclusion of onions, beer, and unsweetened chocolate, but they give this chili an unbelievable depth of flavor. Toasting and grinding your spices fresh is an important step for bringing out their fullest falvor.

  • 1 Tbs. cumin seeds
  • 1-1/2 tsp. coriander seeds
  • 2 Tbs. fresh oregano leaves or 1 Tbs. dried
  • 3 Tbs. vegetable oil
  • 3 lb. beef chuck, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1/2 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 8 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 5 fresh jalapeños (preferably red), stemmed, seeded, and chopped
  • 3 Tbs. masa harina
  • 2 Tbs. ground pasilla powder
  • 2 lb. tomatoes (fresh or canned), seeded and chopped
  • 1 dried chipotle chile, seeded
  • 1 dried New Mexico red chile
  • 1 bottle (12 oz.) dark beer, such as Negra Modelo
  • 1 oz. unsweetened chocolate
  • 4 cups water or homemade or low-salt canned chicken stock

Heat a small, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add the cumin and coriander and toast, giving the pan an occasional shake, until the seeds are fragrant, about 5 minutes. Grind the seeds in a spice grinder or crush them in a mortar and pestle. In the same hot pan, toast the fresh oregano, if using (don't toast dried oregano). Remove the leaves after they've begun to dry out but before they lose all of their green color, about 3 minutes. Set aside.

In a large, heavy-based skillet, Dutch oven, or stockpot, heat the oil until very hot. Brown the meat in the oil in batches (add more oil to the pan as needed), being careful not to crowd the pan or the meat will stew in its own juices and not brown. Transfer the browned meat from the pan to a plate lined with paper towels. Don't clean the skillet after browning the meat.

To the same skillet, add the onion, garlic, jalapeños, masa harina, pasilla powder, the toasted ground cumin and coriander, and toasted (or dried) oregano. Stir over medium-high heat until the onion begins to soften, 5 to 8 minutes. Return the meat to the skillet; add the tomatoes, whole dried chiles, beer, chocolate, and water or stock. Simmer until the meat is fork-tender, about 1-1/2 hours. Remove the whole chiles before serving.

nutrition information (per serving):
Calories (kcal): 750; Fat (g): fat g 31; Fat Calories (kcal): 280; Saturated Fat (g): sat fat g 12; Protein (g): protein g 80; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 13; Carbohydrates (g): carbs g 32; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 6; Sodium (mg): sodium mg 230; Cholesterol (mg): cholesterol mg 235; Fiber (g): fiber g 7;

Photo: Laurie Smith

This chili is a real crowd pleaser - I've "won" a couple of informal cook-offs with this and the other recipes from this article. Using actual dried chili peppers - and lots of it - means the final flavor is much more deep and satisfying than most other chilis out there. I sometimes make this recipe with black beans as well, which lets me feed a bigger crowd.

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