Jan has asked me to make a chili for a potluck with her new half-brother. The last time I made chili, I made a pot with beans and it was pretty hood, but I knew I could do better. Instead of ground beef I would use beef chuck and some rib meat. Last time, I also used canned broth as my braising liquid, this time I would braise pieces of marinated beef—to tenderness—and then use the braising liquid to re-hydrate and cook the beans.
In addition to beef and beans, a California chili should have both dried and fresh chilies. I would use my own blend of chili spice—with only a few tweaks. I would add some fresh chilies and vegetables to make it a healthy dish. Finally, to act as a sauce thickener, I would add some fresh corn puree.
There are two methods of re-hydrating dried beans. The beans may be soaked overnight in salted water (the long soak method) or you can boil them for two minutes and then them allowed to sit, covered, for one hour (the quick soak method). Many recipes then discarding the soak water—along with some of the nutrients.
My personal preference is for the “quick soak” method. When I make a bean dish, I usually make a broth the day before. Then I de-fat the broth to use in the beans soak, with only the additional salt necessary for the recipe. I measure the remaining soaking broth and add only the liquid necessary to cook the final dish. This method keeps all of the beans’ color, flavor, and nutrients in the pot.
Note: In this recipe, I use several of the ingredients—chilies, tomatoes, and cilantro—in stages. For example, dried chilies—at the beginning—roasted chilies—in the middle—and finally fresh chilies at the end of cooking. For the cilantro, I use the stems at one point, the part of the bunch that is half stem and leaves later, and the leafy green part at the end. The goal is to have every level of flavor each ingredient can provide.
After Dinner Note: This dish came out very well, garnering many complements.
Karl’s Chili California con Carne Suprimo
4 Tbs. Karl’s Chili California Powder II, separate uses
3 dried California chilies, roasted, seeded and powdered (about 2 Tbs.)
2 dried Guajillo chile, roasted, seeded and powdered (about 2 tsp.)
1 dried Arbol chilies, roasted, seeded and powdered (about ¼ tsp.)
2 tsp. cumin, toasted and powdered
1 tsp. coriander
½ tsp. black pepper corns
1 tsp. Spanish smoked paprika
1 tsp. Mexican oregano
½ tsp. garlic powder
½ tsp. onion powder
3 beef ribs, cut into 1 inch pieces
1½ lb. beef chuck, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 tsp. Karl’s Chili California Powder
½ tsp. Kosher salt, separate uses
2 Tbs. grated onion
2 Tbs. tequila
1 Tbs. dark soy sauce
3 cloves garlic, mashed to a paste
Braising liquid ingredients
1 Tbs. beef lard (or corn oil)
1 small yellow onion, finely diced
2 stalks celery, finely diced
1 green bell pepper, finely diced, separate uses
1 Tbs. Karl’s Chili California Powder
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbs. tomato paste
2-3 bottles (24-36 oz.) of dark Mexican beer, like Negra Modelo, separate uses
Tied in a bouque garni
2 bunch cilantro, separate uses
4 sprigs thyme
1 bay leaf
3 cups pinto beans
3 beefsteak tomatoes
2 Poblano chilies, fresh
1 Anaheim chili, fresh
2 ears of corn, grated
1 Tbs. beef lard (or corn oil)
1 large yellow onion, diced
6 large cloves garlic, minced
1 cup cilantro, seperate uses
2-3 Tbs. Karl’s Chili California Powder
2 Jalapeño chili, fresh
1 Serrano chili, fresh
Karl’s Salsa Fresca III
1 Roma tomato, chopped
1 Tbs. finely chopped onion
1 Tbs. minced cilantro
l Tbs. lime juice
1 small clove garlic, minced
½ jalapeño, minced
½ tsp. Mexican oregano
½ tsp. honey
¼ tsp. lime zest
corn tortillas 2-3 per person
Note: You can do this dish in one day, if you skip the marinating and start braising the beef early in the morning, but it is easiest to do the first round of cooking the day before the meal.
1. In a dry skillet, over medium high heat, toast the chili pods briefly.
Tip: This only takes a few seconds and the point between toasted and burnt is very short. Discard any burnt pods and try again.
2. In a dry skillet, toast the cumin, coriander, and pepper corns for one minute, until fragrant.
3. Remove the stems, seeds and membranes from the chilies and tear them into small pieces.
Tip: Depending on how hot you want your spice blend, use the arbol chile sparingly. You can control the heat of the mix by not using the whole pod. This is a very hot chile and a little goes a long way.
4. Process the chilies and spices into a fine powder.
5. Put all of the spice blend ingredients into a small bowl, mix well, and reserve.
Note: This recipe makes about 4-5 tablespoons of chili powder.
6. Sprinkle half a teaspoon of salt and a teaspoon of chili powder on the beef.
7. Mix the onion, tequila, soy sauce, and garlic in a bowl.
8.Toss the beef with the marinade to coat and place it in a sealable plastic bag.
9. Marinate the beef for at least 4 hours.
Tip: Overnight, turning every few hours, is better.
10. Blot the beef with paper towels and let it air dry for half an hour.
Tip: The beef will brown better if the surface is dry.
11. Put the rib pieces into a medium Dutch oven and broil them for 15 minutes.
Tip: Do not add any oil to the pot. The ribs will have rendered enough grease that adding oil is unnecessary.
12. Transfer the rib pieces to a bowl and add the beef cubes.
Tip: The ribs will brown on both sides, between the hot pot and the broiler element.
13. Remove the beef to the bowl and pour any liquid in the bottom of the Dutch oven into a small bowl.
Tip: Reserve the liquid to add to the braising liquid.
Note: The beef will shed enough liquid that only the top sides of the beef cubes will brown in the broiler.
14. Move the Dutch oven to the stove top and finish browning the beef cubes.
Tip: When the meat is well browned return it to the bowl with the ribs. Reserve for later.
15. Without cleaning the pot, add the onions, ½ cup of green bell pepper, and half a teaspoon of the salt to the pot.
Tip: Deglaze the pot with the moisture released by the vegetables.
Note: Dice the rest of the bell pepper and reserve for later use.
16. Sauté the onions until they are starting to pick up some color, about eight minutes.
17. Add the celery and green bell pepper to the pot.
18.Continue sautéing until the vegetables are soft and the onions are well browned, about another 5-7 minutes.
19. Pull the vegetables to the sides of the pot and add the garlic, chili powder, and tomato paste to the hole in the center.
20. Sauté the garlic, spices and paste for 2-3 minutes, until the garlic is fragrant and the spices and tomato paste has darkened.
21. Stir in one bottle of beer and deglaze the bottom of the pot.
22. Cut the bunches of cilantro in half to remove the stems, reserve the leafy tops for later.
23. Gather the stems into a bunch and tie them into a bundle with the thyme sprigs and bay leaf.
Note: This is a bouque garni
24. Push the bouque garni into the braising liquid.
25. Return the beef to the pot, and add another half teaspoon of salt.
26. Pour in a second bottle of beer to mostly cover the beef.
Tip: Do not forget to return the reserved beef liquid to the pot.
27. Bring the pot to a boil, cover, and place the pot in a 275º F oven for 2½ hours.
Tip: Do not lift the lid and stir the pot, it is unnecessary.
Note: Serious Eats had a good article on why you should not cook your beef for too long.
28. Remove the pot from the oven and remove the pieces of beef and ribs.
Tip: When the beef has cooled, place it in a plastic bag and reserve it in the refrigerator for later.
Note: Remove and discard the bouque garni.
29.Transfer the braising liquid and vegetables to a standing blender.
Tip: If you wish to reduce the fat content of your dish, let the liquid rest in the blender for 10 minutes. Spoon off the excess grease that floats to the top.
Note: The narrow profile of the blender jar makes it easier to spoon off the “excess grease” than trying to do it in a wide pot. What is “excess fat” is a personal choice. Many of the flavors of a dish are fat soluble. In removing fat, for dietary reasons, you are also discarding some of the flavor. It is a balancing act.
30. Process the vegetables until the braising liquid is very smooth.
31. Sort, rinse your pinto beans, and put them in a large pot.
Tip: I have found stones in even high quality bags of beans, so do not skip sorting your beans—unless you have a really good dental plan.
Note: Do not soak your beans in the Dutch oven, unless you happen to have two of them.
32. Measure your braising liquid and add it to the beans.
Tip: Use some more of the beer to rinse out the blender jar.
33. Add water or beer to make a total of 8 cups of liquid.
34. Bring the pot of beans to a boil, for two minutes.
35. Cover the pot and remove it from the heat.
Tip: The rest of the prep may be done while the beans are soaking.
Note: For the long soak method, leave the liquid cool and let the beans sit, covered, overnight.
36. Cut the tomatoes in half, pole to pole.
37. Put the tomatoes, the Poblano and Anaheim chilies on a lipped baking sheet and broil them on high for 30 minutes.
Tip: Turn the vegetables about every 10 minutes, so they get charred on all sides.
Note: Remove the tomatoes from the broiler after the first ten minutes. The heat of the broiler loosens the skin and makes peeling the tomatoes easy.
38. While the other vegetables are continuing to broil, core, skin and seed the tomatoes.
Tip: Much of the tomatoes flavor is in the jelly around the seeds. Scrape the seeds into a sieve over a bowl and capture it by pressing the jelly through the sieve. Discard the seeds. You may prefer not to go to this trouble, but I have diverticula.
39. Chop the tomatoes and put them into the bowl with the tomato jelly.
40. Place the peppers in a plastic bag until they are cool.
Tip: This steams the peppers and makes the skins easier to remove.
41. Remove the skins, seeds, and veins from the chilies.
42. Chop them coarsely, and set them aside.
43. Grate the raw corn into a bowl and set the corn pulp aside.
Tip: Freezing the corn on the cob will make it easier to grate.
44. Clean the Dutch oven, turn the heat down to medium high and add a tablespoon of oil.
Tip: You may use corn oil, but it is better to use some of the spice infused lard that you skimmed off of the braising liquid.
45. When the oil is hot, add the onions and celery.
46. Sauté until the onions are well browned, about 10 minutes.
47. Take the reserved cilantro tops in a bunch and starting from the stem ends chop them finely.
Tip: You will not be chopping the whole bunch, just half way up. You want mostly the stems and a bit of the leafy greens. Coarsely chop the rest of the leafy greens and reserve for later.
48. Add half of the bell pepper and the chopped cilantro to the pot, continue sautéing for two more minutes.
Tip: Save the best leafy tops of the cilantro for serving on the side. For the pot, you want mostly the finely minced stems.
Note: Put the second half of the bell peppers in the bowl with the grated corn.
49. Pull the vegetables to the sides of the pot and add the garlic and chili powder and sauté one minute more.
Tip: How many tablespoons you use depends on your personal preference for spice.
50. Strain the soaking liquid into a large bowl and measure its volume, add beer to make a total six cups of liquid.
Note: When I started soaking my beans I had eight cups of liquid. The beans soaked up four cups of liquid in rehydrating.
Tip: You may use water or stock, instead of beer to make up the difference
51. Add the beer, roasted chilies, half of the tomatoes, and the contents of the bean pot to the Dutch oven.
Tip: Put the second half of the tomatoes in the bowl with the corn.
52. Bring to a boil, reduce the head, and cover the Dutch oven, simmer for 2-3 hours, until the beans are tender.
Tip: Stir and check fluid level every half hour, you will probably not need to, but add beer, beef broth, or water if needed.
Note: While many would simmer the beans on the stove top, I prefer to transfer the Dutch oven to a 325° oven, because the heat is more evenly distributed.
53. Dice the Jalapeño and Serrano peppers into a small dice and add it to the bowl with the corn.
54. When 2 hours have passed, stir in the beef and the reserved corn, some of the leafy cilantro greens, tomatoes, and chilies.
Tip: Reserve some of the cilantro greens, for garnish and to serve on the side at the table.
55. Prepare the salsa fresca, put the tomato, onion, cilantro, lime juice, garlic, oregano, honey, lime zest, pepper, and salt into a small bowl and stir to combine. Let the mixture meld for 30 minutes.
56. Continue simmering the chili, covered, for 15-30 minutes, until the chili has thickened.
Tip: If the sauce still seems a bit thin, crush a few of the beans against the side of the pot and stir them in. Continue doing this every five minutes, until the chili is to your desired thickness.
Note: The reason for the pauses between bean crushing is because it takes a few minutes for the starch from beans to thicken the sauce.
57. Serve the chili with corn tortillas and top with salsa fresca.
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