Chili con Carne

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Chili con Carne Recipe (serves 8)

Ingredients
• 4 whole dried ancho chilies, cut open, seeds and stems removed
• 6 whole dried New Mexico chilies, cut open, seeds and stems removed
• 1 tbsp whole cumin seed
• 1 tbsp whole coriander seed
• 6 cloves
• 2 28-oz cans whole tomatoes
• 2 lb beef tri-tip, cut into ½-inch cubes, excess fat removed
• 2 lb boneless whole chuck or brisket, cut into 1½-inch cubes, excess fat removed
• Canola oil
• 4 oz smoked bacon
• 2 onions, chopped
• 2 carrots, chopped
• 2 leeks, chopped
• 1 head garlic, chopped
• 1 bunch parsley
• 1 bunch thyme
• 1 bay leaf
• 2 quarts beef stock, ideally homemade
• 1 lb lean ground beef
• 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
• 2 tbsp brown sugar
• 1 tbsp smoked paprika

Garnish
• Crème fraîche (or sour cream)
• Zest of one orange, grated
• 6 radishes, cut in half and sliced into thin half-circles
• 1 bunch chives, cut into 1-inch lengths

Step One
Heat a skillet over medium-high flame. Add the dried ancho and New Mexico chilies and press with a spatula until you hear a slight crackling, about 5 seconds. Turn the chilies over, press, and set aside. Add the whole cumin and coriander seeds to the dry skillet and toast until lightly browned and just smoking, about 3 minutes. Add cloves and one can of tomatoes, broken up with a fork. Simmer until darkened in color and noticeably thickened, 20 to 30 minutes.

Step Two
While the tomatoes are simmering, season the cubed tri-tip and whole chuck (or brisket) with salt on all sides. Heat a large heavy skillet over a medium-high flame. Pour in just enough canola oil to create a thin film. Sear the beef in batches: just enough to fill the pan in a single layer without crowding. (If it gets too crowded, the meat will steam instead of brown.) Rotate each piece using tongs until all pieces are well browned on all sides. Set the meat aside.

Step Three
Even small amounts of bacon. Dice it first, while raw, then place into the skillet used for cooking the meat, over medium heat. Cook for 5 minutes, until browned. Add the chopped vegetables and sauté with the bacon bits until they’re soft.

Step Four
Preheat the oven to 300°. Place the browned vegetables, bacon, tomato-spice mixture, garlic, parsley, thyme, bay leaf, and the chilies you set aside earlier in a large pot or Dutch oven. Place a large piece of cheesecloth over the vegetables and set the seared meat on top; this lets you remove the meat easily before straining. Pour in the beef stock. Commercially available beef stock will do, but homemade is far healthier.  Pour in enough stock to cover the meat. Bring to a simmer on the stovetop and then, for the steadiest and most even cooking, transfer to the oven. After 1 hour, check to be sure the pot is at a low simmer, adjusting the temperature as needed. (Do not let the liquid boil.) Cook for 3 to 5 hours, or until a piece of the meat can be pulled apart easily with forks.

Step Five
While the chili is simmering in the oven, cook the ground beef on medium-high until nicely browned. Pour off any rendered fat, add the second can of tomatoes, breaking them up into big, rough chunks, and simmer until they’re noticeably darkened and thickened.

Step Six
Remove the chili from the oven. Lift the meat out of the pot, set it aside, and then strain the broth to get rid of the vegetable mush. Reserve the liquid and discard the vegetables.

Step Seven
Pour the strained broth back into the large pot, then add the tomato-beef mixture, apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, and paprika. Bring to a simmer, and taste, adding salt if needed. After seasoning the broth, put the cubed meat back in and heat to a bare simmer.

Step Eight
Ladle the chili into warmed bowls and top with a dollop of crème fraîche. Place a pinch of orange zest onto the crème fraîche and then top it with chopped radish and chive.

This is true gourmet Chili Con Carne and a chili aficionado will be able to taste the difference. This recipe has served me well for entertaining. However, I make this in much larger batches and freeze in serving containers for four. Then, when serving my family-I take the base from the freezer, add beans (of course! Sacrilege, I know… and I add whatever beans I have in the pantry) and much more brown sugar and I top it with either chopped onion or grated cheddar.

I serve this recipe to guests with small shots of whiskey, Jalapeno Cornbread, Mexican Beer and Rose or Red wine.

Rose: 2012 Château Grand Traverse Pinot Noir Vin Gris from Old Mission Peninsula, Michigan

Red:Muga 2008 Rioja Riserva

Beer: Modelo Especial 

Whiskey: Maker’s Mark Cask Strength Bourbon Whiskey

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