Sunday, January 23, 2011

Cook's Illustrated Chili

I was too focused on eating the Texas red chili last night, so I haven't tried this slightly blasphemous version of chili yet, but it got good reviews, so I'm going ahead and posting this.

I tried to follow the recipe fairly closely, but I ran out of ancho chiles and ancho chile powder while making the Texas red (my stash from Texas no less!), so I followed the suggested guidelines and substituted 1/2 cup commercial chile powder (slightly less because I was trying to make sure I didn't make it too spicy for the Canadians and I made the paste in the same blender I'd used for the other chile so I had some ancho paste left in there). Luckily, I had arbol chiles on hand, but if not you can use cayenne pepper. I made this in the oven as suggested, but I think it would also be a perfect slow-cooker dish.

Cook's Illustrated Chili

1 cup dried pinto beans, rinsed and picked over
6 dried ancho chiles stems and seeds removed and torn into 1 inch pieces / 6 tbsp ancho chile powder / 1/2 cup commercial chile powder
2 - 4 dried arbol chiles stems and seeds removed / 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
3 tbsp cornmeal
2 tsp dried oregano (I used Mexican)
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp cocoa powder
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
2 medium onions, cut into 3/4 inch pieces (2 cups)
3 small jalapenos, stems and seeds removed, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
3 tbsp vegetable oil
4 medium garlic cloves, minced (~4 tsps)
1 (398mL) can diced tomatoes
2 tsps light molasses
1.6 kg blade steak (or chuck-eye roast) trimmed of gristle and fat and cut into 3/4 inch pieces
1 bottle mild lager

1. Combine 3 tbsp salt, 4 quarts water, and beans in large Dutch oven. Bring to a boil, remove from heat, cover, and let stand 1 hour. Drain and rinse well.
2. If using ancho chiles, place chiles in 12" skillet over medium-high heat, toast, stirring frequently until fragrant, about 4 - 6 minutes. Transfer to a food processor.
3. If using chile powder, add powder to food processor.
4. Add arbol chiles (or cayenne), cornmeal, oregano, cumin, cocoa, and 1/2 tsp salt to food processor. Process until finely ground, about 2 minutes (skip if not using chiles). With processor running, slowly add 1/2 cup broth until a smooth paste forms, about 45 seconds. Transfer paste to a small bowl.
5. Place onions in empty food processor bowl and pulse until roughly chopped. Add jalapenos and pulse until consistency of chunky salsa.
6. Preheat oven to 300F.
7. Heat 1 tbsp oil in large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion mixture and cook, stirring, until moisture has evaporated and vegetables are softened, 7 - 9 minutes.
8. Add garlic to Dutch oven and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
9. Add chili paste, tomatoes, and molasses to Dutch oven and stir until thoroughly combined.
10. Add remaining 2 cups broth and drained beans to Dutch oven, reduce heat and simmer.
11. Meanwhile, heat 1 tbsp oil in 12" skillet over medium-high heat. Pat beef dry and season with 1 tsp salt.
12. Add half of beef to skillet and cook until browned on all sides, about 10 minutes. Transfer meat to Dutch oven.
13. Add 1/2 of beer to skillet, scraping to loosen browned bits, and bring to simmer. Pour into Dutch oven.
14. Repeat steps 11 - 13 with second half of beef.
15. Stir to combine ingredients in Dutch oven and return to a simmer.
16. Cover Dutch oven and transfer to oven. Cook until meat and beans are tender, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Let stand, uncovered, 10 minutes. Stir and season to taste before serving.

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