Worth all the Effort Chili

CHILE POWDER

  • 3 medium dried chili pods, stems and seeds removed, spread flat
  • ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
  • ½ teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder

CHILI

  • 2 tablespoons cumin seeds
  • 8 ounces bacon
  • 3 pounds boneless beef chuck, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 2 medium white onions, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme leaves
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 4 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 ¾ cups beef broth
  • 1 28-ounce can puréed tomatoes
  • 2 poblano chiles, stems and seeds removed

    PREPARATION

  • For the chile powder: Place the chiles flat in a cast-iron skillet over medium heat and cook, turning as needed, until lightly toasted. Transfer to a plate to cool. Put the cumin seeds in the hot pan and stir until fragrant. Transfer to a bowl to cool.
  • Using scissors, cut the chiles into small strips. Using a spice grinder or a clean coffee grinder, grind in batches into a powder. Pour into a bowl. Grind the cumin seeds into a powder and add to the bowl. Add the oregano and garlic powder. If the mixture is still coarse, grind again until fine. Reserve 3 1/2 tablespoons for the chili; save the rest in a jar.
  • For the chili: In a Dutch oven over medium heat, stir the cumin seeds until fragrant, about 1 minute. Pour onto a work surface and using a small, heavy skillet, crush them coarsely. Set aside.
  • Return the pot to medium-high heat, add the bacon and fry until crisp, 5 to 8 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain.
  • Increase the heat to high. Working in small batches, add the beef cubes to the pot and cook, stirring, until well browned on all sides. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the beef to a bowl.
  • Reduce the heat to medium, add the onions to the remaining bacon drippings and sauté until lightly browned, about 8 minutes.
  • Add the crushed cumin, reserved chili powder, paprika, oregano, black pepper, thyme, salt and garlic and cook, stirring often, for 1 minute. Crumble in the bacon and add the broth, tomatoes, 1 cup water, poblanos and the browned beef. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil, then decrease the heat to low, cover partly and simmer for 2 hours, until the meat is very tender. Add water as needed to maintain a good chili consistency.
  • Remove the poblanos, purée them in a food processor or blender and return the purée to the pot. Stir well, simmer for a few minutes to blend the flavors and serve.
  • Serve with shredded cheddar, sour cream, and slice of sourdough bread
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