Beef chili with homemade chili paste and avocado relish

November 4, 2014 § Leave a comment

So I’ve now entered two chili cook-offs at work and come away with two prizes. Not bad at all! The two chilis were pretty different (see the first here) but I’ve enjoyed both. I’m more likely to make this one now my go-to weekend chili. I adapted the recipe from ATK’s “Our Favorite Chili” (free recipe here).

For me chili is really just meat and beans. But it is about the meat and a depth of chile flavor. This one is loaded with nice chunks of beef and uses dried beans. I’m into using dried beans when the time allows. I prepared the beans while I was getting everything else prepped and ready, so it didn’t add much time and I think texturally and taste-wise it was all the better for it.

Speaking of texture, I hate when chili has a gritty texture from using chili powder! But often if enough powder isn’t used, the chili doesn’t have enough taste. Here, I’ve made my own chili paste using a mix of dried chilis, chipotles in adobo (which I love in chili), cayenne, fresh Serranos and the regular spices (cumin, coriander). The addition of cornmeal thickens up the chili. This step is completely worth the few added minutes it takes.

The stuff
Table salt (you will need to adjust salt at end)
1 pound dried beans rinsed and picked over (I used a 2-bean mix, pinto and navy)
6 dried ancho chiles (or about 2 ounces), stems and seeds removed, and flesh torn into 1-inch pieces (or Dried New Mexican or guajillo chiles)
1/4 – 1/2 tsp cayenne
1-2 tablespoons adobo sauce from chipotle chiles
1 minced chipotle chile (optional and to taste, perhaps use this with seeds instead of cayenne?)
3 – 4 tablespoons cornmeal
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons cocoa powder
3 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 medium onions, cut into 3/4-inch pieces (about 2 cups)
2 stalks celery cut into inch pieces
3 small Serrano chiles (or jalapeño) stems and seeds removed and discarded, and flesh cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
5 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through garlic press
2 (14.5-ounce) cans diced tomatoes (I use petite diced)
2 teaspoons dark honey or light molasses
3.5 – 4 lbs of lean stew meat (this is now a common thing in our store, original recipe calls for blade steak or chuck roast trimmed of fat and cut into 3/4″ pieces)
1 (12-ounce) bottle American lager (Yuengling was my choice)

The steps
1. Combine 3 tablespoons salt, 4 quarts water and beans in large Dutch oven and bring to boil over high heat. Remove pot from heat, cover and let stand 1 hour. Drain and rinse well.

2. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Place ancho chiles in 12-inch skillet set over medium-high heat; toast, stirring frequently, until flesh is fragrant, 4 to 6 minutes, reducing heat if chiles begin to smoke. Transfer to bowl of food processor and cool. Do not wash out skillet.

3. Add cayenne (if using), adobo and chipotle, cornmeal, oregano, cumin, cocoa and 1 teaspoon salt to food processor with toasted ancho chiles; process until finely ground, about 2 minutes. With processor running, very slowly add 1/2 cup broth until smooth paste forms, about 45 seconds, scraping down sides of bowl as necessary. Transfer paste to small bowl.

4. Place onions and celery in now-empty processor bowl and pulse until roughly chopped, about four 1-second pulses (make sure not to chop too finely!). Add Serranos and pulse until consistency of chunky salsa, about four 1-second pulses, scraping down bowl or doing in two batches if necessary.

5. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion mixture and cook, stirring occasionally, until moisture has evaporated and vegetables are softened, 7 to 9 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add chile paste, tomatoes and honey/molasses; stir until chili paste is thoroughly combined.

6. Add remaining 3 cups broth and drained beans; bring to boil, then reduce heat to simmer.

7. Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon oil in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Pat beef dry with paper towels and sprinkle with 1-2 teaspoons salt. Add half of beef and cook until browned on all sides, about 10 minutes. Transfer meat to Dutch oven.

8. Add 1/2 bottle lager to skillet, scraping bottom of pan to loosen any browned bits, and bring to simmer. Transfer lager to Dutch oven.

9. Repeat process with remaining tablespoon oil, steak, and lager. Once last addition of lager has been added to Dutch oven, stir to combine and return mixture to simmer.

10. Cover pot and transfer to oven. Cook until meat and beans are fully tender, 2-3 hours. Let chili stand, uncovered, 10 minutes. Stir well and season to taste with salt.

11. Serve with freshly shredded Cheddar or an avocado relish (cubed avocado, chopped cilantro, lime juice, minced red onion, salt and pepper).

12. Win your chili cook-off!

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