Wednesday, April 18, 2012

True Texas Chili

I've seen this recipe on a few other food blogs and I've made it several times now.  I believe I have finally hit the right combination of timing and ingredient modifications to post this.  This chili is from Lobel's Meat Bible. It's the kind of spicy that you can't stop eating--heat but not burn.  The kids sucked it down too. I paired it with cauliflower rice to help soak up some of the sauce and a nice cool traditional green salad with romaine lettuce from Tomatero Farm, tomatoes from Bruins Vegetables out of Winters, CA, organic California English cucumbers from Whole Foods, and carrots from Full Belly Farm.

Don't be scared off by the chili prep, it really does make the chili truly special.  I bought my dried chilis at Mi Pueblo Foods in San Rafael. Start to finish give yourself 4 hours. It'll take an hour to get to the part where everything sits on the stove and simmers.  I started mine at 2pm left it on the stove at 3 to get the kids and do all our stuff, came home at 5.45, made the cauliflower rice, and we were eating by 6.15.  This may have to be a weekend meal for you but it is really worth it, better yet, bring it to your next potluck/chili cook-off and you will be the "WINNER"

Double this if making it for more than 2 adults/2 kids and add 30 minutes to your prep time.  We had zero leftovers.
True Texas Chili
original recipe click here 

my version:

2 ounces dried, whole New Mexico (California), guajillo, or pasilla chiles, or a combination (6 to 8 chiles)
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin seed
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Kosher salt
5 tablespoons lard, coconut oil*, or rendered beef suet
1  pound boneless beef chuck, well trimmed and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
1  pound ground beef
1/3 cup finely chopped onion
3 large cloves garlic, minced
3-4 cups beef or chicken stock, or canned low-sodium beef broth, plus more as needed*
2 tablespoons almond flour (if you have nut allergy use arrowroot powder)
1 1/2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar, plus more as needed

*An excellent new source of stock is now at the Prather Ranch farm stand, Marin Sun Farms farm stand and Belcampo Meat Co.  Their pricing is far less than what you would spend trying to make it home on your own, especially the beef stock.

Place the chiles in a straight-sided large skillet over medium-low heat and gently toast the chiles until fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Don't let them burn or they'll turn bitter. Place the chiles in a bowl and cover them with very hot water and soak until soft, 15 to 45 minutes, turning once or twice. 

While chilis are soaking, return skillet to medium-high heat and melt 2 tablespoons of the lard/coconut oil. When it gets hot, swirl skillet to coat and add half of the stew cut beef. Lightly brown on at least two sides, about 3 minutes per side, reducing the heat if the meat threatens to burn. Transfer to a bowl and repeat with 2 more tablespoons of lard and the remaining beef.  Brown the ground beef and reserve all the meat in one bowl together. 

Drain the chiles; split them and remove stems and seeds (a brief rinse helps remove seeds, but don't wash away the flesh). Place the chiles in the bowl of a blender and add the cumin, black pepper, 1 tablespoon salt and 1/4 cup water. Purée the mixture, adding more water as needed (and occasionally scraping down the sides of the blender jar), until a smooth, slightly fluid paste forms (you want to eliminate all but the tiniest bits of skin.) Set the chile paste aside.

In a dutch oven, or you can use the same skillet you browned the meat in, melt the remaining 1 tablespoon of lard/coconut oil; add the onion and garlic and cook gently for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the stock, and gradually whisk in the almond flour to avoid lumps. Stir in the reserved chile paste, scraping the bottom of the skillet with a spatula to loosen any browned bits. Add the reserved beef (and any juices in the bowl) and bring to a simmer over high heat. Reduce heat to maintain the barest possible simmer (just a few bubbles breaking the surface) and cook, stirring occasionally, until the meat is tender but still somewhat firm and 1 1/2 to 2 cups of thickened but still liquid sauce surrounds the cubes of meat, about 2 hours.

Before starting the Cauliflower Rice, stir in the vinegar thoroughly and add more salt to taste; gently simmer 10 minutes more. At this point, it may look like there is excess sauce. Turn off the heat and let the chili stand for at least 30 minutes, during which time the meat will absorb about half of the remaining sauce in the skillet, leaving the meat bathed in a thick, somewhat fluid sauce. Stir in additional broth or water if the mixture seems too dry. If the mixture seems a bit loose and wet, allow it to simmer a bit more. 

Reheat gently

*I used coconut oil this time out and it turned out really nice.  I've used suet in the past that I rendered myself from Marin Sun Farms and that was great too.  If you want a good resource for lard, Prather Ranch has been selling it at the Farmer's Market, but I would call ahead to make sure they bring it if you want to pick it up from them.

Here is a handy reference guide for fats and oils.  In the past I have used/advocated sunflower or grapeseed oils for high heat cooking.  I'm starting to try to work around those now too.  Tropical oils are starting to become easier to find now and I know we've all been trained to think of them as not great for us but there is mounting evidence that a lot of things we believed to be true about what is good and bad for us is being turned on its ear.  Just keep your mind open...

1 comment:

  1. Just made this tonight and cannot wait to eat the leftovers tomorrow. I was worried about the chilis but they provided the perfect amount of heat. The cauliflower rice was a nice cool pairing. Very satisfying, plus my husband liked it! Thanks, Christine