Pho - Vietnamese Soup

Pho - Vietnamese Soup
One of our favorite dishes - Pho

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Seven-Chile Texas Chili

Here's another one of Lisa Fain's recipes from her cookbook and blog, "The Homesick Texan."  Lisa's cookbook was recently published and would make excellent Christmas gifts for all of the foodies in your life.  

I love everything that goes into preparing food.  Starting with researching recipes, to searching out all the funky ingredients, to the final result...enjoying the home-cooked meal with our family and friends.  

Now that the temperatures are cooler here in Dallas I couldn't wait to try a new chili recipe.  I came across  Lisa's recipe and knew this was the one to try.  Her pictures are so inviting and the ingredients are very different from the chili I usually make, it greatly intrigued me.  My search for ingredients began at Whole Foods, then Tom Thumb, then Central Market, then Fiesta.  Finally I found all the dried chiles I needed at a little Mexican market on Greenville Avenue called La Michoacana Meat Market, which is a family owned business and has locations all over Texas in most big cities.  I did find the Mexican hot chocolate at Central Market and couldn't believe the different varieties, from coffee, to jalapeno, to vanilla flavors and more.  The following morning I brewed up a nice pot of coffee on a crisp and cool, fall day, perfect for cooking up a big, piping-hot, pot of chili.  In my research I've learned that true Texas chili doesn't have beans in it, which I always like beans in my chili, but this was a recipe I wanted to follow to the "T."  I did heat up some chili beans to have on the side if anyone opted for them.  The house smelled amazing with all of the combinations of spices and chili peppers.  It was hard to wait the full five plus hours to eat, although, it was well worth the wait!  

To me, this is a very sophisticated version of chili.  I really liked the thought of steeping the dried chiles and ultimately pureeing them instead of using chili powder at all.  The smokiness from the dried chipotle was nice and subtle.  Sometimes I find canned chipotles in adobo sauce to be too overpowering with their smokey flavor.  I did add a couple of cups of beef broth to help tone down the spiciness a bit.  Also, I shredded my meat towards the end with two forks, so as to not have such big chunks of meat, which some people prefer.  I served our chili with Fritos, saltine crackers, chopped onions, shredded cheddar cheese and fresh cilantro to garnish.  I was very pleased with how the chili turned out, although so different from mine, I didn't miss the tomatoes or the beans at all.  The variety of chiles added such a wonderful combination of flavors and nice texture.  It was a huge hit with the family.  We made chili dogs with the leftovers the next day, which are a good sinful treat every so often.  

Right about the time dinner was to be served, UPS delivered a package from Amazon with David's name on it and he handed it over to me and said, "This is for you."  Much to my delight it was Lisa's cookbook that he had ordered a week prior, not knowing I was making her chili or much less even thinking about it.  What great timing that was!  Nicely done, my Love!  AND the added bonus was that Lisa was going to be having a book singing the very next day at a store 5 minutes from my house.  It was a pleasure to meet Lisa and her family.  Congratulations again, Lisa to all of your success!  I look forward to the next cookbook and experimenting with many more of your recipes!  =)

6 dried ancho chiles
2 dried pasilla chiles
2 dried guajillos chiles
2 dried chipotle chiles

4 dried chiles de arbol
4 pieces of bacon
4 lbs of chuck roast, cut into 1/4 inch cubes
1 large onion diced
6 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 cup of brewed coffee
1 bottle of beer (preferably Shiner Bock or a Mexican brand such as Negro Modelo)
3 cups of water
1 TBSP ground cumin

1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground clove
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp Mexican hot chocolate tablet, grated

1 tsp Kosher salt, plus more to taste
4 dried pequin chiles

1/4 cup masa harina
Grated cheddar cheese, lime wedges and chopped onion, for serving

Remove the seeds and stems from the dried chiles.  In a dry skillet heated on high, toast  the ancho chiles, pasilla chiles, guajillo chiles, chipotle chiles, and chiles de arbol on each side for about 10 seconds or just until they star to puff.  Fill the skillet with enough water to cover the chiles.  Leave the heat on until the water begins to boil and then turn off the heat and let the chiles soak until soft, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large heavy pot, such as a Dutch oven, fry up the bacon. When it's done, remove from pan and drain on a paper-towel lined plate.  Leave the bacon grease in the pot, and on medium heat, cook the beef on each side until lightly browned, about 10 minutes.  (You may have to do this in batches.)

Remove the browned beef from the pot.  Leaving the heat on, add the diced onions to the pot and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook for another 30 seconds.  Add the beef back in the pot, crumble in the bacon, and add the coffee, beer, cumin, oregano, cinnamon, clove, allspice, cayenne, chocolate, 3 cups of water, and salt. Turn the heat up to high.

While the pot is coming to a boil, make the chile puree.  Drain and rinse the chiles then place them in a blender along with the pequin chiles (you don't need to presoak these little chiles) and 1 cup of fresh water.  Puree until nice and smooth and then pour the chile puree into the chili pot.

When the chili begins to boil, turn heat down to low and simmer uncovered for 5 hours, stirring occasionally. Taste it once an hour and adjust seasonings. If it starts to get too dry, add more water.  After 5 hours, scoop out 1/4 cup of broth out of the pot and combine with the  masa harina.  Pour the masa harina mixture into the pot and stir until the chili is thickened.  Let the chili simmer for another 30 minutes or so. When done, serve with cheddar, lime wedges, onions and tortillas.

Note: If you can't find all of these chiles, I would just use the more readily available anchos and chipotles. I'd use 6-8 anchos, following the same soaking and pureeing method, and two chipotles.

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