A Chili Collaboration

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Beer, cornbread, cheddar cheese, chili perfection

Chili is one of our ideal meals – a long cooking time, a variety of ingredients yielding subtle complexity, and just enough spice to start a sweat. Our original recipe came from a postcard that my parents both bought, separately, at the Dallas Airport before they met. When they moved into their first apartment together they realized they both had the same postcard. In addition to being a sign of fate, the postcard recipe also made a perfect bowl of chili. Sometimes, when it comes to our recipes, Hillary and I can be sticklers to tradition. We find a recipe for a classic and essential dish, like roast chicken or banana bread, successfully make it on our first attempt and it becomes our go-to. Lately, Hillary’s been challenging our conventions, particularly the recipes that come from my family…hmmmm. Admittedly, trying out these new (aka “Hillary”) recipes have had great results. And I’m not just saying that for brownie points. The recipe below is a combination of the postcard recipe and Bon Appétit’s “Best Beef Chili.”

Ingredients:

  • 4 dried chiles (a mixture of ancho, guajillo, morita, and/or pasilla)
  • 4-5 cups chicken broth
  • 2 TBS olive oil
  • 2 lb stewing beef, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • salt & pepper
  • 2 yellow onions, finely chopped
  • 2 jalapeños, finely chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 TBS cumin
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 12 oz bottle of lager
  • 2 TBS tomato paste
  • 1-2 tsp brown sugar
  • 16 oz can pinto beans

Directions:

  1. Toast the chiles in a dry skillet over medium-high heat, turning and pressing occasionally, until darkened in color, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl and cover with 2 cups boiling water. Let sit 30 minutes to soften. Drain and discard stems and seeds. Working in batches if needed, purée the chiles and 4 cups broth in a blender or with a hand blender until smooth.
  2. While chiles are soaking, heat 1 TBS olive oil in a large heavy pot over medium-high heat. Season beef cubes with salt and pepper. Working in batches, cook the meat until brown all over, for about 5 minutes. Set aside. Continue cooking the meat juices in the pot until most of the liquid has evaporated.
  3. Add another 1 TBS olive oil to the pot then add the onions, jalapeño, garlic. Season with a little salt. Cook the onions and garlic until soft, for 6-8 minutes, stirring often to ensure they don’t stick. You can add a bit of water to the pot as well to prevent sticking. Then add the cumin, oregano, and chili powder and cook for 1 minute, stirring to incorporate.
  4. Return the beef to the pot and add the lager. Bring mixture to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for about 5 minutes, until the liquid is almost completely reduced. Add the chile purée, season with salt and pepper, and bring back to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 1 – 1 1/4 hours. You want the liquid to be slightly thickened and the meat very tender.
  5. With thirty cooking minutes remaining, add the pinto beans, sugar, and tomato paste. You may want to first mix the tomato paste with a bit of water to dilute it.
  6. Serve with cornbread, fritos, sour cream, cheese, red onion – whatever you floats your boat!

Details: Serves 6

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