Monday, March 16, 2009

5-Alarm Chili

Long-Time readers of this blog (i.e. you members of the 4-month club) will remember that I have already posted a chili recipe here (in fact, it's recipe #1). That chili, while good, was rather middle-of-the-road. I've recently tried out a more bold recipe. The heat in this recipe comes from canned chipotle chiles packed in adobo sauce - a wickedly hot concoction which takes the normally milder flavor of jalepenos and kicks it up several notches. Another interesting ingredient is beer, although as a teetotaler I used a non-alcoholic variety (remember when cooking with alcohol, you can cook out a lot of it, but never all of it). If you don't like the malty essence that comes from cooking with beer, you can use pretty much any flavorful liquid that you like: cola, tomtato juice, broth - just make sure it dosen't get bitter or too salty when you cook with it.

  • 3-4 pounds stew beef (I like chuck, but you can use round), cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 tablespoon canola or peanut oil
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoons chili powder (homemade would be best, see note on my previous post)
  • 2-4 canned chipotle chiles, diced (more is hotter)
  • 2-4 tablespoons of adobo sauce from the chipotles (again, more is hotter)
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin (freshly toasted and ground would be best)
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 jar (16 ounces) salsa, hot or medium (as you like it)
  • 1 bottle (12 ounces) beer or ale (regular or non-alcoholic)
  • 1 cup crushed tortilla chips

Toss the beef to coat with the oil and salt in a large bowl. Open the windows and/or turn on your range vent (this should produce a lot of smoke if done correctly). Working in small batches (about 1/4 of the meat in each batch), brown the outside of beef in a large dutch oven set on high heat (I use setting 9 out of 10 on my stove). As each batch finishes, remove to a clean bowl. When all the meat is browned, reduce heat to medium and saute the chiles, adobo sauce, cumin, and turmeric for 1-2 minutes, or until the mixture is very thick and brown (don't inhale the fumes - they are quite pungent!). Add salsa and beer and deglaze the pan while bringing mixture to a full simmer over medium-high heat. Add browned beef and any accumulated juices back to the pot. Add tortilla chips. Stir everything to combine. Put the lid on (or cover tightly with foil) and bake at 220 degrees for 3-4 hours (or 350 for 1-2 hours, but it won't be as tender. The best would be 185 for 8-10 hours!)

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