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Cook's Illustrated Chili Con Carne
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    Cook's Illustrated Chili Con Carne

  • 3 Tbsp. ancho chile powder or 3 medium pods (about 1/2 ounce), toasted and ground.
  • 3 Tbsp. New Mexico chile powder or 3 medium pods (about 3/4 ounce), toasted and ground.
  • 2 Tbsp. cumin seeds, toasted in a dry skillet over medium heat until fragrant, about 4 minutes, and ground.
  • 2 tsp. dried oregano, preferably Mexican.
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 4-pound beef chuck roast, trimmed of excess fat and cut into 1-inch cubes.
  • 2 tsp. salt, plus extra for seasoning.
  • 8 ounces bacon (7 or 8 slices), cut into 1/4-inch pieces.
  • 1 medium onion, minced (about 1 cup).
  • 5 medium garlic cloves, minced.
  • 4-5 small jalaneño chile peppers, cored, seeded, and minced.
  • 1 cup canned crushed tomatoes or plain tomato sauce.
  • 2 Tbsp. juice from 1 medium lime.
  • 5 Tbsp. masa harina or 3 Tbsp. cornstarch.
  • Ground black pepper.
  • 1. Mix chile powders, cumin, and oregano in small bowl and stir in 1/2 cup water to form thick paste; set aside. Toss beef cubes with salt; set aside.

    2. Fry bacon in large, heavy soup kettle or dutch oven over medium-low heat until fat renders and bacon crisps, about 10 minutes. Remove bacon with slotted spoon to paper towel-lined plate; pour all but 2 teaspoons fat from pot into small bowl; set aside. Increase heat to medium-high; sauté meat in four batches until well-browned on all sides, about 5 minutes per batch, adding additional 2 teaspoons bacon fat to pot as necessary. Reduce heat to medium, add 3 tablespoons bacon fat to now-empty pan. Add onion; sauté until softened, 5 to 6 minutes. Add garlic and jalaneño; sauté until fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Add reserved bacon and browned beef, crushed tomatoes or tomato sauce, lime juice, and 7 cups water; bring to simmer. Continue to cook at steady simmer until meat is tender and juices are dark, rich, and starting to thicken, about 2 hours.

    3. Mix masa harina with 2/3 cup water (or cornstarch with 3 Tbsp. water) in small bowl to form smooth paste. Increase heat to medium; stir in paste and simmer until thickened, 5 to 10 minutes. Adjust seasoning generously with salt and ground black pepper. Serve immediately, or preferably, cool slightly, cover, and refrigerate overnight for up to 5 days. Reheat before serving.
    Serves 6

    *Note: The author suggests refrigerating the finished product overnight to allow the flavors to develop. He also suggests adding peanut butter and/or unsweetened chocolate to enhance the earthiness and to add creaminess. Enjoy!

    From: March & April 1998 issue of Cook's Illustrated magazine.
    Posted By: Steve Zinski
    Post Date: Sun, 15 Feb 1998

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