dubsola's Chilli

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dubsola
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dubsola's Chilli

Postby dubsola » Tue Nov 15, 2016 4:38 am UTC

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This 'recipe' is my interpretation of the dish you may know as Chili con carne. In lots of places it's just called Chili, which I like because it has fewer syllables and therefore is easier to say, but also because meat isn't strictly necessary. 'What's this?' 'Chili con carne... only not really, there's no carne.' And Chili sin carne just isn't right. This is an American dish, apparently originating as trail food for the cowboys down in Texas. Like American barbeque, there are a lot of different variations. It can be thick or thin, served in a bowl, served on rice, even served with spaghetti like they do in Cincinatti - they call it chiligetti and it has no beans. The point is, this is a dish that doesn't need a recipe. Just set aside a couple of hours and get cracking.

What are you going to cook this in? Your best bet is a heavy bottomed pot with a lid but you can pretty much use anything.
First, the beans. Red kidney is the standard but I like to use black beans as well, especially if it's a vegetarian chili. Do yourself a favour, get down to your local whole foods store and get some dried red kidney beans and black beans from the whole food bins. Keep them separate. Soak them overnight in heaps of water, rinse them off, then boil them in big pots of water. Should be good in less than an hour - start checking them after half an hour. You want them soft but not too soft. Maybe google this part if you're not sure. The older they are the longer they will take to cook, so if you pulled them out from the cupboard after a couple of years, don't bother. You'll just end up burning them because you got tired of waiting, wandered off and let the water boil dry like I did five times. Chuck those out and grab a can of red kidney beans from the cupboard. If you're desperate because you burned your fancy dried beans, use whatever you have - chick peas, butter beans, whatever. This dish has no rules.

Second, the meat. You don't need it. But if you're the kind of person that must put meat in every single thing you consume, then go to the butcher and buy some proper beef mince. If you really want to guild the lily, get some pork mince too - about 2/3 beef to 1/3 pork. It's pretty good like this. Ok, you need to brown the meat. Pay attention, this bit's important. Don't put too much meat in your pan because it'll lose the heat, the meat juice will fill up the pan and the meat will stew, not brown. Try a cup at a time, taking the browned meat out and putting it in a bowl before adding the next cup. If you want to know why this is important then google the Maillard reaction. Once you've browned all the meat, put it somewhere safe, you won't need it for a while.

Vegetarians, you can now pay attention again. Your base flavours are coming from onion, garlic, carrot and celery, but you can certainly get by with just onion and garlic, or even just onion. Brown onion is the one to use, but shallots are pretty good too. Chop and fry! I usually start with the onion, then the garlic, then lower the heat and add the carrot and celery and fry till soft. But do whatever you feel is appropriate. Just remember you're not looking to brown anything here, just get those onions translucent and ready for the next step.

This is where you can start drinking, because it's time to add some booze. If you're classy, add a glass of red wine. But if you really want to blow some minds, get a bottle of brown or black beer. Don't worry if you don't usually drink the stuff, it'll taste good in your chili. You can find some cheap brown ale, but if you want to get artisinal then go to a decent bottle shop and get a nice porter or stout. The Founder's range is pretty good. If you want to have a taste of your great dark beer, don't drink it straight out of the fridge - take it out and let it warm up a bit. The rest goes in the pan to deglaze all the bits of delicious food you cooked earlier.

Ok, tomato time. I use canned, usually a mixture of peeled and diced plum tomatoes, but you could use passata or get completely wild and blanch and peel your own tomatoes. If you are someone who does this then hats off to you. I never can be bothered. When adding, make sure your pan's not too hot, tomatoes like it low and slow. Not to mention don't burn your onions and garlic. If you can see black bits on anything, you have screwed up a bit. Next time take it easier. But don't worry, if it's not completely charcoaled you can probably keep going. Strictly speaking, tomatoes aren't essential for chili. But unless you have a reason not to eat them, you should definitely use them. They are delicious, especially when cooked low and slow.

Right now you've got a pretty good base for your chili. Or you could get scared and pretend you were making spaghetti sauce all along. If you do this then don't mention you put brown beer in there. Either way you're looking at a pot of red stuff and things are smelling pretty good. It's now time to add some stuff that will turn this dish from spaghetti sauce to chili. By this point you'll be aware that this isn't a real recipe, so what and how much is up to you. Remember that herbs generally like to go in at the end so they don't lose all their flavour, whereas spices want to go in at the start so they have time to mingle. Also, salt and pepper.
Standard:
Chillis
Cumin
Oregano
Worcester sauce - this is made with anchovies so skip it if you don't want
Bay leaf
Wild cards:
Dark chocolate (a little)
Paprika (loads)
Cajun spice mix (loads)
Fennel powder or seeds that you toasted and crushed (a little)
Cinnamon(a little)
Sage (a little)
Flat leaf parsley (medium)
Italian herb mix (medium)
Soy sauce (a little)
Vegetable stock
Porcini mushroom (soak beforehand and add with the soaking water ie mushroom stock)

The chili part needs a bit of chat. Dried is easiest - chili flakes, chili powder, cayenne pepper. You've probably got this in your cupboard already. But you can use fresh chilies instead of or as well as dried. Traditionally they go in whole but do whatever you like - chopped, deseeded, whatever. And what variety? Whatever you like. Chipotles would be pretty good but I haven't tried it. Also, if you're making two pots side by side, one with meat and one without - remember, the fat from the meat will absorb a lot of the heat so don't add the same amount of chili to each one unless you want to make the vegetarians in your life suffer. I made this mistake once.

Finished experimenting? Ok, let this cook for a while, on a low heat. Don't let it burn, don't let it get too dry. Your end result can be whatever you like - thin and runny, or thick enough to be used as emergency spackle. I like it somewhere in the middle ground. About half an hour to an hour before you can't wait any longer, add the beans and the meat. You can also add chopped mushrooms at this stage - the heat will cook them or you could roast or fry beforehand.

Taste it to make sure it has enough flavour and heat. Getting good at tasting and adjusting is what this dish, and cooking, is all about. Add the herbs, if you're using them, about 15 minutes before the end. They should be lifting and lightening up the flavour a little but not overpowering anything and it should taste good before you add them. Like curry, chili will taste better the next day. You can eat it by the bowlful, on rice, with crusty bread, with a baked potato, with sour cream, with a green salad, or with all of these things. Whatever you like, this dish has no rules. Just stacks of flavour and a pretty forgiving attitude. Enjoy your chili.

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Re: dubsola's Chilli

Postby ConMan » Tue Nov 15, 2016 5:04 am UTC

Thanks for this! I like making a pot of chilli con carne in the slow cooker every once in a while, and I'll probably steal a few of your hints the next time I get around to it. I often make mine with kangaroo mince, which is probably not that easy to get in the States but which is available in supermarkets down here. It cooks a bit like a really lean, slightly gamey beef mince so cooking it in a bit of butter or good quality oil makes it just nice.
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Re: dubsola's Chilli

Postby dubsola » Tue Nov 15, 2016 7:49 am UTC

It's cheap I'd imagine? I live in Australia too, but don't buy meat very much and haven't considered ever getting it.

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Re: dubsola's Chilli

Postby Zohar » Tue Nov 15, 2016 2:03 pm UTC

I like this recipe and this recipe writing style but I have no witty comments to add about it.
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Re: dubsola's Chilli

Postby ConMan » Tue Nov 15, 2016 9:58 pm UTC

dubsola wrote:It's cheap I'd imagine? I live in Australia too, but don't buy meat very much and haven't considered ever getting it.

It's similar in price to beef - about $10/kg. I don't get it as much any more because my wife doesn't like the taste.
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Re: dubsola's Chilli

Postby freezeblade » Wed Nov 16, 2016 12:10 am UTC

a good pot of chili con carne is a thing of beauty.

I pretty much use the same base with a few changes:

  • Start with bacon or pork belly, to render the fat that will be used for frying the onion/carrot (I leave out celery)
  • Meat is typically Bison, it's a very lean meat, which is counteracted with the fat from the bacon/pork belly
  • Nopales (cactus paddles), cut into 1/2" x 1/4" pieces, (pre-soaked, or if camping, charred on a grill beforehand)
  • Chile powder: I find new mexico chile or chile california is a great base, with a little chipotle (jarred or dry)
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Re: dubsola's Chilli

Postby dubsola » Wed Nov 16, 2016 1:20 am UTC

Oh yeah, bacon is great in this sort of thing! Stews and so on. Fatty and salty, yes! You could also use chorizo if you're made of money and fearlessness.

Bison and cactus are virtually unheard of where I am, I've had cactus before but don't think I've ever had the pleasure of bison? I did have buffalo once in India, didn't really like it but I think minced and slow cooked it could be great! I would love to have access to these things and the chillis you mentioned. Chipotle only just made it around these parts recently.

I had a bowlful of some chili I pulled from the freezer last night. It was a great pot, but I wanted a little bit of fatty goodness in there, so I grated some vintage cheddar on top. Sacrilege? I don't care. It was excellent.

...

To be honest ever since I posted this I've been a bit nervous about SecondTalon coming in here and telling me what's wrong. I know he has strong opinions about chili.

Zohar wrote:I like this recipe and this recipe writing style but I have no witty comments to add about it.

Thankyou. Apropos of nothing, I remember reading you saying you didn't know of anything that tasted like bacon. Now's a good as time as any to say - IMO, in the world of vegetarianism, the closest thing to bacon is halumi. They are both salty and chewy. Bacon has a meatier flavour and is fattier, but I guess that's to be expected.

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Re: dubsola's Chilli

Postby Nath » Wed Nov 16, 2016 4:59 am UTC

I was tempted to make protestey noises, until I reminded my self that chili the meat stew and chili the bean stew are two different dishes that unfortunately share the same name, for murky historical reasons.

For the meaty version, I like chunks rather than minced meat, and lots of dried chiles (more the flavorful kind than the capsaicin kind). I have no strong opinion about tomatoes, and a bit of pinto beans are fine (don't tell Texas I said that) as long as the meat is still prominent. There should be some cumin and oregano in there, garlic and onions. No carrots or celery. Beyond that, I like to mix it up with unsweetened cocoa, or beer, or various umami boosters (soy, fish sauce, etc.).

For the beany version, it's so similar to rajma masala that I can't help but use that as a starting point, which means kidney beans are my default option. For chili (con frijoles?) I'd leave out the ginger and garam masala and turmeric, and make sure to add some oregano. I never thought to add beer or chocolate to the bean version, but that sounds tasty.

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Re: dubsola's Chilli

Postby dubsola » Wed Nov 16, 2016 8:10 am UTC

Why are they two different dishes? I do like chili con frijoles as a name though!

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Re: dubsola's Chilli

Postby PAstrychef » Wed Nov 16, 2016 2:26 pm UTC

dubsola wrote:
Bison and cactus are virtually unheard of where I am, I've had cactus before but don't think I've ever had the pleasure of bison? I did have buffalo once in India, didn't really like it but I think minced and slow cooked it could be great! I would love to have access to these things and the chillis you mentioned. Chipotle only just made it around these parts recently.

I suspect the buffalo you had in India was water buffalo, not American bison. Very different animals. Also, it was probably not raised for meat but was butchered after working hard for many years, which does not lead to much tenderness.
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Re: dubsola's Chilli

Postby dubsola » Thu Nov 17, 2016 2:08 am UTC

Oh absolutely, I know they're not the same animal, but figured they'd be in the same ballpark, taste-wise. On reflection, probably too different to be a worthy comparison.

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Re: dubsola's Chilli

Postby Nath » Thu Nov 17, 2016 7:49 am UTC

dubsola wrote:Why are they two different dishes? I do like chili con frijoles as a name though!

Well, old-school Texas chili is primarily a meat dish, heavily seasoned with chiles (almost equal parts, according to the oldest descriptions I can find). There's not much to the dish besides the two ingredients in the name.

A lot of people now think of chili as a bean and tomato soup. The two ingredients the dish is named after may or may not even be present -- you can make a decent 'chili' with no meat and little or no chile. I think that makes it different enough to qualify as a different dish. It can be very satisfying in its own right, but it's a poor substitute for the meat and chiles version (and vice versa).

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Re: dubsola's Chilli

Postby mosc » Mon Nov 21, 2016 1:07 pm UTC

My chili is strictly a meat and pepper affair. No beans. The final product is a condiment-like meat paste. The meat acts as a binder for the pepper and the pepper flavor is all that matters. I don't use much garlic or onion to get in the way. Oregano or other seasonings take you further in the wrong direction. I do not make a "spicy stew", I make chili. You could probably dilute it with beans, other veggies, and water and it would taste a lot like the original poster but to me that's not the core taste.

My favorite application is chili nachos. This chili reheats well and although "greasey", it is not soupy and won't destroy a hearty corn chip. Cover copiously with cheese, especially if you can't handle the heat, and you have a heavenly meal. I use EXTREMELY sharp cheddar. The kind that they cut special for you and then frown when you tell them you intend to melt it on chips. What I can find varies but my current choice is Black Diamond 5 year old Cheddar which runs in the $12-15/lb price range

It relies on dried ingredients not out of laziness (though I admit it is far easier) but out of taste. The dry ingredients maximize the surface area and fill your mouth on contact with all of their wonderful flavor. The goal is an immediate wave of flavor that fills your mouth and blends like a fine wine but does not linger with numbing tingle or pain. I don't make this chili purposely hot, though it is definitely for those who like spicy food, so you will not find habanero or other painfully hot ingredients. You can certainly mix in whatever lethal flavoring you want in proportion to take it from a ~3,000 scovel unit concoction to whatever.

Texas Style Turkey Chili
Supplies: 12” cast Iron skillet, a teaspoon, a tablespoon, a hard spatula, can opener, soap free sponge.
Wet Ingredients:
-2 pounds 85/15 ground turkey (dark meat). Leaner meat not ideal, may require additional Tomato. Olive oil can be added to replace some fat content as well.
-15 oz Tomato Sauce. Regular, plain, boring, NOT low sodium or diet or anything else. I go with Hunt’s. I don’t recommend using diced tomatoes or tomato paste.
-4 Tablespoons (1/4 cup) Franks RedHot Original Cayenne Pepper Hot Sauce. Franks has three ingredients that it’s used for. First, it’s Cayenne pepper heat which is a main taste in the Chili. Second, it’s a vinegar based sauce which passes a nice tartness to the chili. Third, it has a binding agent (probably Xanthan Gum) in it which helps keep things sticky and prevents this from tasting like meat + sauce. It’s the glue that holds the chili together figuratively AND literally!
-1 Cup water. Don’t use hard water due to the cast iron. Bottled if necessary.
Dry Ingredients (ground):
-2 Tablespoons New Mexico Chili Pepper (bright red, mild)
-2 Tablespoons Ancho Chili Pepper (black, smokey, strong smell, zero heat)
-2 Tablespoon De Arbol Chili Pepper (delicious, HOT, late heat). Substitute to remove most of the heat.
-2 Tablespoons Cayenne Pepper (bright, strong, good heat)
-2 Tablespoons Aleppo Pepper (red pepper flakes have seeds, do not substitute. Mild)
-1 Tablespoon HOT Hungarian Paprika.
-1 teaspoon Onion Powder
-1 teaspoon Garlic Powder
I generally measure out the dry ingredients into a bowl before starting on the meat. Brown meat, chop very fine with a spatula. The finer the meat, the more surface area it has and the more chili powder will stick to it. It’s important it’s a fine chop. DO NOT DRAIN FAT! Reduce heat to minimum and add in Tomato sauce and franks. Stir in Dry ingredients. Note consistency. This is as “thick” as you want it when it’s done. Raise temperature to low, add in and cook off the cup of water (you can add more over a longer time if you like) until consistency is restored and water is boiled off. Stir occasionally to keep things from separating as it simmers. Serve very hot. Re-heat may require a bit of water mixed in (which you cook off again).

D’allesandro on Amazon sells the chili ingredients (new mexico, ancho, de arbol, cayenne, Aleppo pepper, etc) and you can find the hot paprika in most spice sections. D’allesandro is also sold under the “Angelina’s Gourmet” brand, same stuff. Try to avoid generic blended “chili powder”. New Mexico chili powder is sometimes called Mexican chili powder and is sold in Latin markets and is from dried Anaheim chilies (not a blend of peppers).
Don’t get the non-HOT Paprika it’s bland. Recently I had to stop using the Szged branded stuff, it apparently no longer comes from Hungary and became very bland. McCormics HOT Hungarian Paprika works well, it’s just expensive to buy in small containers. I was able to special order the "real" stuff from bende: https://www.bende.com/hungarian-hot-pap ... -bag-p-43/
You can get a lodge cast iron pre-seasoned 12” skillet for ~$30 on amazon, I highly recommend it. Just don’t pick up the handle when it’s on the stove! Cast Iron soaks in the Chili oil and helps keep the flavor in the chili for later batches. Remember to clean with JUST water (no soap). It cleans very easy immediately after cooking but not so easy if you let the chili residue dry up on it. You also need to dry it yourself rather than air dry or you’ll get a little rust in your next batch.
I’m considering Cholula Original Hot Sauce instead of Franks. It uses arbol and piquin peppers rather than cayenne for heat, otherwise they’re pretty identical. Cayenne’s a little brighter flavor that hides less heat in the back end but I generally find arbol to be the tastiest of peppers. I’m not sure it would be a noticeable change and Franks is easier to get in large bottles but if you have some Cholula, you might try it.
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Re: dubsola's Chilli

Postby freezeblade » Mon Nov 21, 2016 5:27 pm UTC

Made some chili this weekend, because it was cold and rainy out, used whatever was already in my house, because I was parked a block away, and I wanted to stay in my house (in PJs with hot cocoa/cuppa tea, you know the drill).

Boring Story/Recipe:
Spoiler:
First, put the kettle on (it will be needed for tea because it's cold out, and for rehydrating the chilies/dry tomatoes) In a big cast iron dutch oven fry up 3 strips of bacon. Toast a handfull of dry chilies from the cabinet straight on a burner's flame (mixed chiles, mainly chile california, but with a few chipotle, puya, and cascabel mixed in). Try and warm your hands. Remove bacon, put in 1 pound of ground pork/beef (originally bought for meatballs), brown meat in bacon drippings. Once water is boiling, steep some tea, you'll need it, your hands are freezing! Cover the toasted chilies and a handfull of sun dried tomatoes (left over from pizza night) with boiling water in some container that's laying around. Check the fridge for onion leftovers, oh hey, there's a half of a red onion, and a half of brown onion leftover from previous meals. Dice onion as meat finishes browning, along with the last of the sweet italian peppers from the yard (about 1.5 cups), then remove and drain meat (keep the drippings!). Return all drippings to pan, toss in diced onion and fresh peppers. Stir from time to time with a big wooden spoon as you enjoy your cup of hot wonderfulness. (Isn't it nice to be over the warm stove?) As onion gets closer to done, remove the chiles and tomatoes from the hot water (save the soaking liquid!), seed and chop fine. Go looking for any single beers that may be hanging around in the fridge (oh good, there's a dopplebock in here, that'll do, and it turns out I do have a tomato in here! Better dice that up too). Dice up leftover fresh tomato, throw into pot with the onions, along with all the chopped up rehydrated chilies and tomatoes. Let sizzle as you finish tea, then drain the bottle of beer into the pot, along with the tomato/chile soaking liquid. Toast up some cumin, coriander, peppercorns, a couple chips of cinnamon, and a palm of oregano until fragrant, then pound to a powder, add to pot, put on low simmer. Add meat back to the pot, along with the bacon (crumbled). Toss in a tablespoon of masa harina, stir, Make another cup of tea, then sneak back to the couch and watch a movie under a warm blanket. Check for seasoning and done-ness once the movie is over. Serve with whatever you like, (I sprinkled on some crumbled queso fresco).
Last edited by freezeblade on Mon Nov 28, 2016 7:44 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: dubsola's Chilli

Postby dubsola » Tue Nov 22, 2016 5:15 am UTC

Both of these recipes sound great! Some stray thoughts:

I'm quite glad to have such a counterpoint to 'my style' of chilli appear in this thread. I will have to try it one day.
I quite like the Spanish paprika from La Chinata.
I love Cholula and I am looking at a bottle of Cholola chipotle right now. It is really great on top of avocados on toast.
Who has boiling water left over from a pizza night?

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Re: dubsola's Chilli

Postby doogly » Mon Nov 28, 2016 7:21 pm UTC

I made one yesterday that is more on the bean stew side. But I try! Ground beef, mostly red beans and some black beans, 5 bell peppers and 2 poblanos cause those guys are nice. Yellow onion early, green onion at the end. Cumin, pepper, paprika, good times. Two cut up tomatoes, and also a tomato paste can.

Secret ingredients were some cacao powder and some roasted ground chicory. I was pleased with these.

Also, the specification of Hunt's diced tomatoes reminds me of Achewood:
http://achewood.com/index.php?date=09252006
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Re: dubsola's Chilli

Postby sardia » Fri Dec 02, 2016 1:44 am UTC

doogly wrote:I made one yesterday that is more on the bean stew side. But I try! Ground beef, mostly red beans and some black beans, 5 bell peppers and 2 poblanos cause those guys are nice. Yellow onion early, green onion at the end. Cumin, pepper, paprika, good times. Two cut up tomatoes, and also a tomato paste can.

Secret ingredients were some cacao powder and some roasted ground chicory. I was pleased with these.

Also, the specification of Hunt's diced tomatoes reminds me of Achewood:
http://achewood.com/index.php?date=09252006

I always replace any chilli recipe that calls for ground beef with Chuck steak, or whatever the cheapest cut off meat is around. It improves the flavor profile immensely, especially. You sear and then cut into small cubes. Bam, just as tender, but more flavor.

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Re: dubsola's Chilli

Postby pogrmman » Tue Dec 06, 2016 3:45 am UTC

sardia wrote:
doogly wrote:I made one yesterday that is more on the bean stew side. But I try! Ground beef, mostly red beans and some black beans, 5 bell peppers and 2 poblanos cause those guys are nice. Yellow onion early, green onion at the end. Cumin, pepper, paprika, good times. Two cut up tomatoes, and also a tomato paste can.

Secret ingredients were some cacao powder and some roasted ground chicory. I was pleased with these.

Also, the specification of Hunt's diced tomatoes reminds me of Achewood:
http://achewood.com/index.php?date=09252006

I always replace any chilli recipe that calls for ground beef with Chuck steak, or whatever the cheapest cut off meat is around. It improves the flavor profile immensely, especially. You sear and then cut into small cubes. Bam, just as tender, but more flavor.



This is very true, and works quite well.

My basic chili is as follows:
Take chuck and cube it. Sear off the cubes until they are nicely seared on all sides. Take out the meat.

Take water (or beef stock, ideally), and deglaze whatever you seared the beef it.

While this is going on, roast a variety of hot chiles and a couple tomatillos. It's different every time, but it will usually be something like this: 1 or 2 poblanos, maybe a couple wax peppers, several serranos, several thai chiles, some new mexico chiles, a couple jalapeños, and maybe a habanero (or ghost pepper) or two. You want to keep turning them until they are evenly roasted.

Put water the roasted chiles and tomatillos, and several tomatoes into a blender. Blend until it is smooth.

Sear onions until they are tender. Add beef, chile puree, and the liquid used to deglaze the pan.

Take chile powder, cumin, oregano, pepper, salt, and coriander and add to the chili as it simmers. For chile powder, I like making my own if dried peppers are available. Ancho and pasilla are always good. Dried chipotles add a nice smokiness to it. Dried tepins and piquins add nice flavor. Arbol chiles are always nice too.

Simmer over low heat for a couple hours. Let it cook down some until it is nice and thick (it should be pretty thick anyway). Skim off fat that rises to the top. It is better if you let it sit overnight in the fridge and reheat it -- the flavors meld even more.

I pretty much always wing it based off of experience, and its usually really good.


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