Big Red Beef and Bean Chili

American, Mexican
Mark's Texas Red

Chili is uniquely American, said to be created in San Antonio, Texas, in the 1850s. It is sometimes called a "bowl of red." I've added beans to the Paul Prudhomme recipe. It takes 4 to 5 hours of kitchen time. Chilies, cumin, and garlic appear in multiple sections, so tally up before buying ingredients. Fantastic with toasted corn tortillas and butter, or cornbread. Remember chili is the dish, Chile is the pepper.
---bean base---
1 1/2 pound dry pinto beans
8 half-crushed peppercorns
2 teaspoons salt
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon minced garlic
---seasoning mix / divided use---
1 tablespoon ground Guajillo chile
1 tablespoon ground hot Arbol chile
1 tablespoon salt
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons dried sweet basil leaves
1 1/2 teaspoon 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
2 pounds beef top round,.25 to.5-inch dice
4 cups meat stock (beef, chicken, or pork stock) / divided use
3 dry ancho or poblano peppers; (or 1 Jalepeño and 2 Pasilla)
2 dry Arbol peppers (or any small, thin hot red chile peppers)
5 fresh peppers diced - mix of serrano, Jalepeño, anaheim
1/4 pound salt pork, half-inch dice (Boston pork butt, or bacon)
---veg mix / divided use---
5 cups chopped onions
5 cups chopped green bell peppers
2 cups chopped celery
2 tablespoons minced fresh garlic
8 medium fresh tomatoes, peeled and smashed with their juices
1 tablespoon ground cumin for chili
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
1 In a 6-quart pot, put all bean base ingredients. Fill with water to cover beans by a few inches over the top. Bring to boil, then set on lowest heat for 3 to 4 hours, tasting beans at 3 hours. They should be slightly firm, not mushy or chalky. Turn off heat. Transfer beans with their water from pot to a large bowl.

2 Meanwhile, in a small bowl, thoroughly combine seasoning mix ingredients.

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

4 In a preheated 300° oven, place whole chili dried peppers on a baking pan and dry them in the oven until brittle, about 10 minutes. When the peppers are cool enough to handle, place them in a food processor bowl. Blend into a fine powder. Set aside.

5 With pot on medium heat, add salt pork. Cover and cook. Occasionally, scrape the bottom until the salt pork is a deep brown color. After 8 to 10 minutes, there should be a film on the bottom of the pot that looks like ground red pepper. Do not burn. With slotted spoon, set aside browned salt pork.

6 Turn heat to medium-high, add half the beef. Cook, turning once or twice until browned, about 3 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon to a bowl. Then brown remaining beef and remove it to the bowl.

7 Turn heat to medium. Add 1/2 veg mix and bowl of remaining seasoning mix from step 2. Stir well, cover, and cook 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

8 Remove lid and cook until vegetables stick to bottom of pot, about 5 minutes. Stir in browned beef and ground chiles from step 4. Cook until meat sticks and forms a hard crust on bottom of pot, about 15 minutes.

9 Meanwhile, place browned salt pork and 1/4 of meat stock in a blender and process until thoroughly blended.

10 When meat forms a crust on the bottom of the pot, stir in salt-pork stock mixture. Add tomatoes, rest of meat stock, cumin for chili, and remaining veg mix. Stir, scraping the bottom of the pot, and cook uncovered for 10 minutes.

11 Add beans with their water and stir. Cover pot and cook over medium-high heat, about 5 to 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 heat, and add toasted cornmeal to pot, stirring and scraping the bottom.

13 Bring to boil, cover, and lower heat. Simmer about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Scrape occasionally if soup starts to stick.

14 Serve immediately or refrigerate overnight and reheat before serving.

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.
To thicken chili more, smash some beans as you stir.

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