Sunday, October 21, 2012

Smoky Tex-Mex Chili

I found this Aidells recipe and had to try it. You know how I love him and his recipes. This is why I went all out and spent half a fortune on beef. Unlike any chili I've ever made, this one has chunks of beef and not one bean.

The recipe says to marinate the beef 2 hours or overnight. I opted for overnight, to maximize as much as possible on my expensive beef. And where it offered a choice between masa harina and grits, I went with grits. Did you know that when options are listed in a recipe the first one if the best selection? Yeah. It is. I knew that but this cemented it for me.

Smoky Tex-Mex Chili
adapted from Cooking Club of America
click to print

4 lb. boneless beef chuck, cut into 1-inch pieces
4 tbsp chili powder, divided
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground pepper
8 oz. bacon, chopped
4 c chopped onions
1/4 c chopped garlic
2 Anaheim chiles, roasted, chopped
2 jalapeño chiles, veins and seeds removed, finely chopped
1 (28-oz.) can diced tomatoes
1 (12-oz.) bottle beer
1 1/2 c chicken stock
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp molasses
2 tbsp masa harina or instant grits
3 tbsp cider vinegar

Place beef in large bowl; sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of the chili powder, salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

In large heavy pot or Dutch oven, cook bacon over medium heat until browned but not too crisp. Remove with slotted spoon; drain on paper towels.

I ended up on the too crisp side.

Increase heat to medium-high. Add beef in 3 or 4 batches; cook 3 to 5 minutes or until browned on all sides. Place in clean large bowl.
The first two images show the first batch of beef pieces browning; the third image shows all the beef browned. The browning time for each consecutive batch is less than the last; the bacon fat looks pretty wicked at the end.

Add onions to pot. Cover and cook over medium heat 10 minutes or until soft, stirring frequently.

Stir in garlic, Anaheim chiles and jalapeño chiles; cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add reserved bacon, beef with any accumulated juices, tomatoes, beer, broth, remaining 2 tablespoons chili powder, cumin, oregano and molasses.

Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low; simmer, uncovered, 1 1/2 hours or until beef is tender.

Skim off any grease from surface.

In medium bowl, stir together grits, vinegar and 1 cup of the chili liquid. Stir into chili.

Cook 10 minutes.

Serve with sliced avocado, chopped red onion, shredded cheddar and tortilla chips!

Different from any chili I've ever made due it having chunks of beef instead of ground and a lack of beans, this chili did taste really good. Sweet and smoky and only mildly spicy, I could eat piles of it! I thought the beef quantity would be too crazy, but it wasn't excessive. After a few days of continuous chili, it did start wearing on me a little and I admit to being bean girl. I missed them! Certainly, this is what my brother thinks of when he wants "real" chili, not that crap with beans in it.

The grits? Sure they offered a little bit of a corn essence, but were much too coarse. Do the masa harina. I bet it'll be a million times better since it will be much finer.
If you're not a beer swiller, no worries about the beer in this chili. It's not a prevailing component and was not noticed, unlike the beer chili at BJ's which I think is insane. I do believe, without any scientific rationale, that the beer here is a positive contributor and shouldn't be omitted without good reason.

Thinking of them as garnishes, I neglected to get the avocado, chopped red onion, cheese and tortilla chips, which was regretful. I ate most of my chili with some remaining chopped onions that didn't go into the chili recipe. While those onions offered a little texture and refreshing flavor (is that possible for onions?), alone they were really oniony. I'm sure that helps you! Avocado and cheese with the crunch of tortillas would've given my mouth a much more well-rounded experience.

This is supposed to yield eight servings, but I got about 10 or 12! Some of these were bowled and frozen for later.

  • boneless beef chuck: $17.45
  • bacon: $2
  • onions: $1.56
  • garlic: $0.44
  • Anaheim chiles: $0.45
  • jalapeño chiles: $0.21
  • diced tomatoes: $1.28
  • beer: $1.50
  • chicken stock: $0.24
  • instant grits: $0.10

Total: $25.23, but I'll round up to include the seasonings (chili powder, salt, pepper, cumin, oregano, molasses, and cider vinegar), $25.75. That makes each of 10 servings about $2.58 each.

This chili freezes and reheats very, very well. I highly recommend you make a batch and enjoy some smoky flavors now and later.