Chili con CarneFor years I waded through Chili recipes and never seemed to get what I was looking for. It turned out my problem was I had never eaten decent chili. I eventually settled on a nexus between recipes from my standbys; Clifford A. Wright and the good folks at Cooks Illustrated.
Texas purists and - in fact - Texas law insists there be no beans. I have become orthodox in my view of the dish partly because I believe the point of the dish is to fully enjoy the flavor of the chili. I like to use browned and ground fresh New Mexico and Ancho chilis. I have found the heat is best infused through fresh chilis - jalepenos, serranos or, if you want to really add some bite, habaneros.
One thing about this recipe is that it really rides solely on the quality of the the chili. In this respect, it's almost like an authentic Hungarian goulash. It's best eaten with reasonably fresh tortillas used almost like dumplings.
Cut the beef from the bone and into about 1 inch squares. Coat in about 2 teaspoons of salt and set aside.
Toast and grind chili peppers if you are including that step. Mix chili powders and the cumin with 1 cup of water until it becomes an even paste. Set aside.
Cook bacon until very crispy in a dutch oven under a medium heat. Try and extract as much grease as possible. Take out the bacon and chop into 1/2 inch sections. Set aside. Pour all but about 2 tablespoons of grease out and set aside.
Turn heat up to medium high and, just as it begins to smoke, begin browning the beef in batches. Cook until each peace is browned on each side. Add more bacon grease as needed with each batch. When done set the beef aside again.
Pour in the last of the bacon grease (about half should be left) and, just as it begins smoking again, throw in the onion. Cook until tender - about 10 minutes. Throw in the garlic, oregano and fresh peppers and cook until fragrant - about a minute. Throw in the chili powder mix and cook until fragrant - about a minute.
Throw in the beef, the bacon, the lime juice, the tomatoes and seven cups of water. cook until starts to boil and turn flame down so it simmers. Cover and cook until it thickens - about two and a half hours.
Mix masa harena (or corn starch) with 1 cup of water until smooth. Pour into chili and stir until clumps are eliminated. Add tabasco, salt, black pepper to taste. Cook uncovered for at least fifteen minutes more.
Serve in bowls with fresh cilantro on top. Goes great with flour tortillas and beer.
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