This is my favorite chili recipe of all time. Another recipe that I've tweaked over the years, but it's based on a recipe from some chili cookbook I found at the Dallas airport of all places. I've doubled the recipe because I like lots of leftover to freeze, so feel free to halve it. While today's version doesn't have any brisket, I thought I would share this recipe since many of you make chili with leftover brisket.
For me, the key to any great chili is to fresh grind chilis and cumin instead of using chili powder. Makes a ton of difference with the final flavor. I always use a combination of a mild chili and a hot chili. For mild, my favorite by far is the ancho chili, which is a dried poblano. If you can't find ancho, you can substitute something like New Mexico or Guajillo. For heat, I almost always use chili de arbol, although I'll also use Indian hot chilis if I'm out of arbol.
Half a pound of bacon
(freeze the other half for the next time you make chili)
3-4 medium cloves of garlic
4 medium onions
4 lbs meat
. The meat is totally up to you. I usually use 3 lbs of ground chuck and/or brisket, plus 1 lb. ground pork. They didn't have ground pork this time, so I went with 3 lbs ground chuck and 1 lb. ground turkey. Why turkey? I have no idea, just felt silly.
3 4oz cans chopped mild green chilis
7 TBSP fresh ground ancho chili
1-3 TBSP fresh ground chili de arbol
(start with 1 TBSP and work your way up)
2 tsp Mexican orgegano
3 1/2 tsp fresh ground cumin
5 tsp salt
2 12oz cans tomato paste
2 28oz cans whole tomatoes
, chopped coarse, drained
6 cups water
3 15oz cans pinto beans
(yes, I use beans. purists can omit, but I like to add another texture to the meal)
This is a LOT of prep! You can shorten the prep time by working on one batch of ingredients while the other is cooking. I'll step you through how I prepare it.
I start by fresh grinding the anchos, de arbol and cumin in a coffee grinder. Don't use the grinder you use for coffee! Always have a different grinder for spices.
Tear the ancho chilis into small pieces, discard the seeds, and grind in batches in a grinder until you have 7 TBSP. Some people heat dried anchos in an oven, but I just grind them as is.
Do the same for the chili de arbol (I discard the seeds), and then grind the cumin.
The spice blend: Ground ancho, chili de arbol, cumin, Mexican oregano and kosher salt.
Cut the pound of bacon in half width-wise and freeze half. Slice the other half into strips.
Saute the bacon until crisp in a large pot, then spoon it out, drain, and hold in the fridge until later. Keep the bacon fat in the pot.
While the bacon is cooking, dice the onions and garlic. After the bacon, cook the onions and garlic in the bacon fat until soft, then set aside in a bowl.
After the onions and garlic, cook the meat until browned. After cooking, I drain the meat in the sink in a large strainer.
While the meat is cooking, chopped the tomatoes coarse and strain most of the juice.
Add the meat back into the pot, then stir in the 6 cups water. Add the onion/garlic mixture, the spice blend, and the canned green chilis. I'm not adding the hot (de arbol) chilis yet, since I will be splitting this batch in half and making a wimpy version for the wifey. The wifey's version does not have any hot chilis, plus I add a ton of diced tomatoes to dilute the chili flavor. What can I say, it keeps her happy. Simmer this for about 60-90 minutes.
About 30 minutes after simmering, taste and adjust for salt and heat. For a full batch this size I'd probably use about 2 TBSP of chili de arbol, but start with 1 TBSP and work your way up.
30 minutes before serving, add the pinto beans and the bacon and mix well. You also may need to add water if too much has evaporated away.
Served up with some Trader Joe's baked blue corn tortilla chips. Yummy!