Big Red Beef and Bean Chili

American, Mexican
Mark's Texas Red

This stunning chili is from a recipe I am still perfecting using beef and beans. The original recipe of Paul Prudhomme's skips beans entirely, and the all-beef recipe is listed here. Begin the night before if soaking beans. When going shopping, the chillies and the cumin appear in multiple sections so tally up. If you want only beef, double the amount of beef. Use quarter-inch chopped beef not ground. This makes a robust gallon of chili that serves crowds. It belongs to the school of slow cooking and takes at least five hours of kitchen time. Chili as we know it was created in San Antonio, Texas, around the 1850's where it still sometimes called a "bowl of red." Remember Chili is the dish, chile is the pepper.
seasoning mix for beef
1 tablespoon dry Guajillo chile pepper
1 tablespoon dry Arbol chile pepper
1 tablespoon salt
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons dried sweet basil leaves
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cumin for mix

2 pounds beef top round, 1/4" dice
1 pound dry pinto beans
8 half-crushed peppercorns
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon minced garlic
3 dry ancho or poblano peppers (or 1 Jalepeño and 2 Pasilla)
3 dry Arbol peppers (or any small, thin hot red chile peppers)
6 fresh peppers diced - mix of serrano, jalapeño, anaheim
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal (optional)
1/4 pounds salt pork cut into quarter-inch dice (Boston pork butt, or bacon)
6 cups chopped onions / divided use
6 cups chopped green bell peppers / divided use
3 cups chopped celery / divided use
2 tablespoons minced fresh garlic
2 bay leaves
4 cups beef stock (or chicken or pork stock)
8 medium fresh tomatoes, peeled and smashed with their juices
1 tablespoon ground cumin for chili
1 Select 'The Pot.' This large heavy cauldron will contain a gallon. Put dry beans, peppercorns, salt, bay leaves and garlic in The Pot. Fill with warm water an inch over the top.Bring to boil, then set on lowest flame for 3 hours, tasting beans to be whole, slightly firm - not mushy or chalky. Turn off heat and transfer beans with their water to a bowl.

2 In a 300° oven place dried peppers on a baking pan and dry them in the oven until brittle, about 10 minutes. When chopping chile's reserve heads as a whimsical garnish. When the peppers are cool enough to handle, crush them by hand into a food processor bowl. Blend into a fine powder (about 7 tablespoons). Set aside dry chile powder.

3 Combine the seasoning mix ingredients thoroughly in a small bowl (about 1/2 cup)

4 Sprinkle 1/4 of the seasoning mix all over the meat and work it in well with your hands.

5 Place salt pork in The Pot over medium heat. Cover and cook. Occasionally scrape the bottom, until the salt pork is a deep brown color, about 15 minutes. There should be a film on the bottom of the pot that looks like ground red pepper. Do not burn. With slotted spoon sets aside browned salt pork.

6 Turn the heat up high, and when the fat in the pot is hot, add half the beef to the pot. Cook, turning once or twice, until browned, about 3 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon to a bowl. Then brown the remaining beef and remove to the bowl.

7 Set heat under The Pot to medium. Add 4 cups each of the onions and bell peppers, 2 cups of the celery, all the garlic, the remaining seasoning mix, and bay leaves. Stir well, cover, and cook 15 minutes, uncovering occasionally to stir.

8 Remove the lid and cook until the vegetables are sticking to the bottom of the pot, about 6 minutes. Stir in diced fresh hot peppers, dry chile powder, and browned beef. Cook until the meat sticks hard and forms a hard crust on the bottom of the pot, about 20 minutes.

9 Meanwhile, place the browned salt pork and 1 cup of stock in a blender and process until thoroughly blended.

10 When the meat has formed a crust on the bottom of the pot, stir in the salt pork stock mixture and scrape the bottom of the pot. Add tomatoes, all remaining onions, bell peppers, and celery, with 2 cups of stock. Scrape the bottom of the pot well and cook, uncovered, 10 minutes.

11 Add beans with the water and stir. Cover the pot and cook over medium-high heat 6 minutes.

12 Cornmeal optional: Meanwhile, place cornmeal in a small skillet over medium-high heat and toast, flipping the cornmeal and shaking the skillet constantly until the cornmeal is light brown, about 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and set toasted cornmeal aside. Add the toasted cornmeal to the pot and scrape the bottom. Stir in remaining 3 cups stock and the cumin. Bring to a boil, cover, lower the heat.

13 Add chile heads. Simmer for about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Scrape occasionally if the soup starts to stick.

14 Serve immediately or refrigerate overnight and reheat before serving. Fantastic with toasted corn tortillas and butter.

cups  use metric
original recipe yield: 18 Cups
Notes NOTE: Some people do not like the cornmeal addition that thickens the chile. It is easy enough to leave out. Part of the charming latitude of this dish is you can use whatever chile peppers are available in your area, dried or ground. Buy pure ground chile peppers, not commercial chili powder. Whatever chile peppers you are able to find, taste a bit to insure they have the right heat.
Beans are best cooked from scratch, though an overnight soak will do if you are trying to save time in the kitchen. Here are the soak steps: The day before, put beans in port, fill with hot, not boiling water an inch over the top. Put lid on the pot and set outside overnight. The next day, bring beans to boil for a minute then simmer on lowest heat for 90 minutes, tasting for only a slight firmness.
Alternatively, beans can be prepared ahead of time in a pressure cooker. An insta-pot works well.

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