The ultimate West Texas chili recipe. I have won quite a few local contests with this. Nopalitos are optional but add a unique character to the taste and texture.
3 large, heavy sweet peppers, red, orange or yellow, or a combination
5 strips bacon, preferably mesquite-smoked, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups coarsely chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
2 fresh jalapeno chiles, stemmed and minced
2 pounds beef stewing meat (such as chuck), in well-trimmed 1/2 -inch cubes
1/2 cup mild chili powder blend
4 cups beef broth, homemade or canned
1 cup dry red wine
1 cup canned crushed tomatoes with added puree
2 16-ounce pinto or kidney beans or a combination of both, drained and rinsed
1 14-ounce jar nopalitos, rinsed, drained and chopped
In the open flame of a gas burner, or under a preheated electric broiler, roast the sweet peppers, turning them until the peels are evenly charred. In a bowl covered with a plate or in a closed paper bag, allow the peppers to steam until they are cooled. Rub away the burned peel, stem and core the peppers, and coarsely chop the flesh.
In a heavy, 5-quart non-reactive pot over low heat, combine the bacon and olive oil. Cook, stirring once or twice, until the bacon is crisp, 10 to 12 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to absorbent paper to drain.
Add the onions, garlic and jalapenos to the oil in the pot and cook over low heat, stirring once or twice, for 10 minutes. Add the beef and cook, stirring often, until it is no longer pink, about 10 minutes. Stir in the chile powder blend and cook 5 minutes. Stir in the beef broth, red wine and crushed tomatoes. Raise the heat and bring the chili to a boil. Partially cover, lower the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 1 1/2 hours.
Uncover the chili and cook, stirring often, until the meat is very tender, 30 to 40 minutes. Stir in the roasted sweet peppers, beans, nopalitos and bacon and cook another 5 minutes, or until heated through and steaming. Adjust the seasoning. The chili can be prepared at least a day ahead. Cool it to room temperature and refrigerate it. Warm it up slowly over low heat before serving.
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