Chili con Carne is one of those dishes I usually associate with fall or winter; a spicy mixture that warms your stomach on a cold and dreary night. Between the storms this spring, the weather in Dallas has been quite warm. Warm enough to encourage a few folks around here to run around outside wearing next to nothing, and it's now that I'm craving the chili.
Texans as a rule don't add beans to their chili, but having grown up in the north I just can't imagine them not being in there. I have always used kidney beans and lots of them, but decided to give pinto beans a try (just one can, and I liked them!) after a brief chat with one of our producers at the office. He told me he switched to pinto beans a while back and that now kidney beans strike him as "chalky".
When I lived in Canada, I used to just add three to six tablespoons of chili powder to my meat and bean mixture, but that changed after moving to Texas. The choice and availability of chilies and peppers are amazing down here. There's often an entire shelf set aside for them in the produce section at most grocery stores. I love trying out various combinations, so my chili is always a little different. This time I used a couple of canned chipotle peppers which added a wonderful smokey depth of flavour. I will admit I'm a bit of a wimp when it comes to the heat factor, so I often pick the milder varieties, but if you prefer your chili con carne hotter, then increase the amount of the chili de arbol.
1 1/2 cups boiling water
2 dried chili mulato (mild)
2 dried chili ancho (mild)
2-6 dried chili de arbol (hot), (depending on your heat tolerance)
2 canned chipotle peppers (medium) in adobo sauce, reserve the rest for another use
3 cloves garlic
2 tbsp olive oil
2 medium onions, chopped (about 1 lb)
2 lbs lean ground beef
1 tbsp sweet paprika
1 1/2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried marjoram
1 tsp fine sea salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
1 cup water
2 tsp Better than Bouillon, Beef
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 2 oz disk Mexican chocolate (mine was sweetened, but unsweetened chocolate is really good here too)
1 15 oz can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
2 tbsp masa harina or blending flour
sour cream for serving
fresh cilantro for garnish
Place the dried peppers into the hot water and set aside.
Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large heavy pot with a tight fitting lid on medium-low heat. Add the onions and saute them, taking care they don't burn, until they are golden brown. Remove them to a plate and return the pot to the heat.
Add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and increase the heat. Add the ground beef and fry it until it's nicely browned, breaking it up with a wooden spoon.
While the beef is browning, place the water and dried peppers, along with the garlic and chipotle peppers into the bowl of a food processor. Process the mixture until it's smooth.
Add the onions, the dried pepper and garlic mixture (from the food processor), paprika, coriander, cumin, oregano, marjoram, salt, cinnamon, the chopped fresh peppers, water, Better than Bouillon and the tomato paste. Stir until everything is well combined.
Bury the chocolate disk in the middle, cover the pot with the tight fitting lid and cook over very low heat for about 4 hours giving the chili a good stir about midway.
Stir in the pinto beans and check and adjust the seasoning, if necessary. Stir in the masa harina or blending flour, cover the pot and cook over low heat for another hour.
This chili seems to get better when it's reheated the next day. It also freezes really well.
Serve with sour cream, garnish with fresh cilantro.