2 pounds boneless beef chuck, cut into 1-inch cubes
3 – tablespoons olive oil
1 – Medium White onion minced
1 – jalapeno minced or*
1 – serrano pepper minced or *
1 – habanero pepper minced*
2 – cloves garlic minced
For Chili Paste
5 – medium Ancho Chile pods (about ½ ounce), toasted and ground**
5 – medium New Mexico Chile pods (about ¾ ounce), toasted and ground
5 – Chile De Arbol pods, toasted and ground
3 tablespoons cumin seeds, toasted in dry skillet over medium heat until fragrant (about 4 minutes) and ground
(preground cumin may be substituted if you aren’t into fresh herbs, though I don’t recommend it)
3 – teaspoons dried oregano
1 – teaspoon black pepper
½ – teaspoon crushed red pepper
½ – teaspoon white pepper
2 – teaspoon paprika
1 – tablespoon Worcestershire
1 – Btl. Beer (Chile Beers preferred) ***
3/4 quart homemade or low-salt beef broth
2 14-ounce cans kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1) Mix chili powders, cumin, and oregano in small bowl and stir in ½ cup water to form thick paste; set aside
2) Sautee onions in 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat for 8-10 minsor until onion is translucent. Add pepper of choice and sautee an additional 8-10 minutes, or until the peppers soften. Add garlic and sautee another 5 mins. Meanwhile, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in an 8 quart or larger Dutch oven over medium high heat. Sear the beef cubes until browned and crusty on two sides, working in batches to avoid crowding the pan. With tongs or a slotted spoon, transfer the browned beef to a bowl. During searing, it’s fine if the pan bottom gets quite dark, but if it smells like it’s burning, reduce the heat a bit. If the pan ever gets dry, add a little more oil.
3) Once all the beef is seared and set aside, add the onions and peppers to the pan, along with cumin and all ingredients except chili paste. Cook, stirring, until the spices coat the vegetables and are fragrant, 15 to 30 seconds. Add paste and sautee for 2-3 mins. Slowly add the beer while scraping the pan bottom with a wooden spoon to dissolve the coating of spices. Simmer until the beer is reduced by about half and the mixture has thickened slightly, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the beef, along with any accumulated juices, and the beef broth. Bring to a simmer and then reduce the heat to medium low. Simmer, partially covered, for 3 hours, stirring occasionally. Test a cube of meat—you should be able to cut it with a spoon.
4)If not serving immediately, chill overnight. The next day, skim any fat from the top, if necessary, before reheating.
To serve, heat the chili gently. Using a slotted spoon, transfer about 2 cups of the beef cubes to a plate. Shred the meat with a fork and return it to pot. Taste and add more salt if needed. Heat the beans in a medium bowl covered with plastic in the microwave (or heat them gently in a saucepan). Spoon chili over beans in an individual bowl. When serving, top with fresh minced onions, cilantro or sour cream if desired, and a sharp cheddar or jack cheese. Serve with any of several choices, including rice, saltine crackers (yawn), or (my favorite) fresh cornbread.
* — These peppers may be substituted for each other (or omitted) freely, depending on the type of heat and amount you are looking for. The jalapeno is the lightest of the three, producing more of a smoky than burning sensation on the palate. Serrano peppers have a more intense heat that tends to dissipate quickly, though more should be used since they are smaller than jalapenos. The habanero is the hottest of the three, and it’s not really close. Typically I’ll use just a half or so of the habanero pepper along with an entire jalapeno pepper to open up the meat flavors if the chili is intended for public consumption.
** — To toast and grind dried chiles: Place chiles on baking sheet in 350-degree oven until fragrant and puffed, about 6 minutes. Put smaller chiles (De Arbol) in for no more than 2 minutes. Cool, stem, and seed, tearing pods into pieces. Place pieces of the pods in a spice grinder and process until powdery, 30 to 45 seconds.
*** — a chile beer is a lighter beer in which brewers typically use an oil or the pepper itself to induce heat in the drink. I am not a fan of drinking these beers myself, and actually prefer a darker beer to drink alongside the chile. I find they make wonderful cooking agents, however.