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This is a classic central Texas recipe for Chili Con Carne. Rather than using ground beef, it uses chunks of beef chuck and NO BEANS. There are many different variations of chili, and this regional version is a personal favorite.
We start this recipe with three different dried chilis (all with the seeds removed): Arbol chilis, Guajillo chilis, and Ancho chilis. The Arbol chilis are the often unsung workhorse of the Mexican kitchen, and add an intense fiery heat that can be mitigated a bit by removing the seeds. The guajillos add a complex slightly fruity flavor and are classically paired with the arbol chilis, and the ancho chilis add a wonderfully bold, fruity, and slightly raisiny flavor. When steeped and blended, it's important to make this chili paste as smooth as absolutely possible. Don't be afraid to let it run for a while.
People unfamiliar with this style of chili may be surprised that it uses beef chuck cut into roughly one and a half inch chunks. Many recipes call for ground beef, and that's certainly a perfectly good option, but research has found that central Texan Chile Con Carne is more directly derived from the classic Mexican recipe for Chile Colorado, (which we've also made in the past) and therefore uses chunks though Chile Colorado is usually made with pork. You're going to love those chunks when they become fork tender after hours of simmering! One more note on the beef: you'll most likely need to brown it in two batches. Don't rush this step your your meat will look grey instead of browned.
When you add the dried spices, go ahead and let them toast a bit in the fat at the bottom of the pot. It adds a delicious nuttiness to the dish you really can't get another way. Using Bravado Spice Crimson Hot Sauce was a natural choice for this chili. It already had arbol chilis in it, and the serrano peppers in the sauce add a wonderful brightness. The acidity of the vinegar in the sauce isn't really noticeable among the already acidic crushed tomatoes, but will help make the beef a bit more tender.
You can serve this chili really however you want, but we chose to do it with a little sour cream, shredded cheese, chives, and a slice of jalapeño cornbread. We know this style of chili may be unfamiliar to many, but it definitely deserves a spot in the pantheon of chilis, and whether you're cooking for one, or cooking for a group this chili is sure to impress!
1 Tbsp - Minced garlic
3 - Arbol chilies
2 - Guajillo chilies
1 - Ancho chili
2-3 lbs - Beef chuck, cubed
1 - Medium onion, diced
2 c - Beef broth
1/3 c - Vegetable or corn oil
1/2 tsp - Paprika
1/2 tsp - Cumin
2 Sprigs - Fresh oregano
1 c - Crushed tomatoes
1 Tbsp - Tomato paste
2 Tbsp - Bravado Spice Crimson Hot Sauce
3 c - Boiling water
-Salt & pepper
Put your dried chilies in a bowl and just cover with boiling water. Cover and set aside for 20 minutes. Then blend the chilies fine with 2/3 of the chili water. Set this chili paste aside.
Add the oil to a large pot (a dutch oven is ideal) and heat to medium high heat. Add half the cubed beef along with 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper and brown on one side for about 5 minutes. Turn and repeat until both sides are browned. Remove and then repeat with the remaining beef. Be sure to season it as well. Set the meat aside. Use a paper towel to blot some of the oil, take care not to remove the bits that remain stuck.
Add the diced onions and sweat until translucent. Then add the garlic, cumin and paprika. Lightly toast the spices, then add the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, broth, 2/3 c of the chili paste, and the Bravado Spice Crimson Hot Sauce. Mix well.
Add the browned beef and fresh oregano and mix. Then lower heat to medium low and simmer for 3-4 hours, stirring occasionally.
When the meat is fork tender, remove and serve. Garnish if desired with some cornbread, a dollop of sour cream, and some shredded cheese.