Chili Colorado - Traditional

First a word about "chile" vs. "chili":

From an article in the LA Times:

"The Los Angeles Times spells the vegetable "chile" and the spicy soup "chili." The sauce made of chile, onion and tomato? Chile sauce."


Here's a photogtraphic summary of the recipe. Detailed instructions are at the bottom of the page.

Step 1: 1/2 Pound of dried guajillo chiles. (I used guajillos in this batch because they can be hotter than Anaheims, and I'm the only one going to be enjoying this particular batch. Turns out they are an extremely mild batch of chiles.) For whatever reason, this picture doesn't do justice to how many chiles are in a 1/2 pound. That blue bowl is the biggest ceramic bowl in our kitchen.

 

Step 2: De-seeded, de-veined chiles. It takes about 30 to 45 minutes to do the job if you're meticulous and want to get every seed and every vein because you're cooking for Minnesotans who think black pepper is spicy. If you're just cooking, it takes about 15 minutes to run your finger through the chiles and leave a little spice behind.

 

Step 3: Cover with boiling water and steam the chiles for about 20 minutes.

 

Step 4: Puree the reconstituted chiles to a thick paste.

 

Here are the pureed chiles, the salt, garlic, and flour that will go into the roux in the next step:

 

Step 5: The beginning of the roux: Crisco and the masa, (corn flour), garlic, and salt. Cook until the masa begins to darken and you can smell corn cooking. Add the garlic just before you take it off the heat so you don't burn it.

 

Step 6: Mixing the chile paste into the roux.

 

Step 7: Add beef broth and mix well. I use a rubberized whisk to incorporate the roux paste into a smooth mixture.

 

Step 8: Filter the chili solids out of the chile sauce. I've tried skipping this step, and it's just not worth it. In fact, it kind of ruins the entire pot of chili, because the little pieces of skin have no taste, they stick to the roof of your mouth, and they don't have a good feel while you're eating. Take the time to remove them. Again the photo doesn't do justice to the amount of solids shown - it's about a cup of solid nasties:

 

Here's the filtered chile sauce - smells fantastic, but doesn't bear any resemblance to what it's going to be, yet: 

 

Step 9: Trim and chop the beef into cubes. I used a little smaller dice this time, usually I do about 3/4-inch cubes, these are about 1/2-inch cubes. I trimmed the beef very close, but since you're going to wind up braising the chili for at least three hours, you could leave a lot of the fat on - it will render into the chili and add tons of flavor. (It's only about a week after New Year's Day, so I'm still on the resolution kick.)

 

Step 10: Brown the beef in batches. Use a large, flat pan and don't crowd the meat, otherwise you'll wind up steaming it, not browning it. When a batch is complete, transfer it directly to the chile sauce with a slotted spoon and start a new batch. Add more oil between batches.

 

Step 11: Add spices to chile sauce.

 

Now you've got a pot of chili colorado, felicidadies! Put the pot of chili in a 190 degree oven for anywhere from three to eight hours and enjoy. The longer you cook it the more fall-apart the beef will be, and the further the fat will render into the chili.

 

Recipe

This is a two step chili; first you make the sauce, and then you put the stew together in the sauce. The results are spectacular, producing exactly what I think of when I think of Chili Colorado.

Chile Sauce:

Ingredients

  • 1/2 Lb Dried New Mexico Chiles (mild); I've found that a mixture of about 20 Ancho, (Pasilla), peppers and about 10 Guajillos makes a great mix. 
  • 3/4 Cup Shortening (Crisco)
  • 1 1/4 Cup Flour or Masa (hominy flour)
  • 2 1/2 Tbs Salt
  • 1 Tbs chopped garlic
  • 64 Oz. Beef Broth
  • 32 Oz. Water

Instructions

  1. Remove the stems and all of the seeds from the dried chiles. If you're extremely careful and remove every vein and every seed, there will be no spicy heat in your chili. If you leave some seeds and aren't too particular about the veins, you can get a nice, burnished, picante bass note of spice with the Ancho/Guajillo mixture. Put the chiles in a bowl and completely cover with boiling water for about 20 minutes. Reserving 2 cups for step 2, drain off the water and put the chiles in a blender or food processor and puree until a thick, homogenous paste has been formed. Set aside.
  2. In a large stock pot, melt the Crisco over medium heat. Add the flour and salt and mix well, stirring constantly until the roux darkens a little and you can smell corn cooking, then add garlic just before adding chile paste. Add the reserved chile paste. Cook this mixture for about 15 minutes. If you don't add some of the reserved water, you'll get a big ball of paste, which will translate to a very thick chili. If you add a little water, your chili will be more soupy. I like my chili soupy so I usually add a little more than a cup, but save the entire 2 cups you reserved in step one just in case. 
  3. Add the beef broth, (64 Oz), and water. Stir it around until very smooth, then run the entire batch through a strainer to remove the chile solids - this is important, otherwise you'll be chewing on little bits of chile skin and it's not pleasant. Discard or compost the solids. After straining, cook until thickened, about an hour. 

Chili Colorado:

Ingredients

  • 3 Qts Chile Sauce from recipe above
  • 4 Tbs chile powder, (at least). Again, if you're lucky enough to be able to find Ancho and Guajillo chile powders, you can mix even amounts of each together with salt and create a spectacular mix that will amplify those same peppers in your chili.
  • 1 Tbs Cumin, (at least)
  • 3 to 4 Lbs cubed beef roast - any cut will do, but should be well-marbled because the fat is going to be the tasty part - it renders out during cooking so you're not going to be chewing fatty meat. I use chuck roast
  • Flour or masa to coat cubed beef - a Tbsp or so
  • 1 can/bottle of good beer for deglazing
  • Flour Tortillas for serving
  • Grated Cheddar Cheese for serving
  • Chopped Green Onions for garnish

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 180º. Add the spices to the Chile Sauce and warm over low heat. Meanwhile, coat the meat with the flour/masa and brown in a skillet over medium heat - brown the meat in batches, and don't burn the pan drippings. As the batches of cubed beef are browned, transfer them from the skillet to the Chile Sauce. 
  2. After all the beef is browned and added to the sauce, deglaze the pan with enough of the beer to do the job, usually about 1/2 to 3/4 of the bottle. That's why the recipe calls for "good beer". Add the deglazed pan drippings to the pot.
  3. Put the batch into the 180º oven for as long as possible up to 8 hours, (minimum 3 hours), until the meat is fall-apart tender and to give the flavors  a chance to mingle.
  4. You now have a big pot of Chili Colorado.
  5. Serve in bowls with sides of Mexican rice, cilantro, grated cheese, shredded lettuce, limes, Etc. and tortillas so everyone can make their own tacos and enjoy them with a hearty bowl of chili colorado.

Everyone used to rave about my dad's chili. He called it Jose Duryee's Chili con Carne. It's a lot simpler recipe than this one, and it's pretty soupy, too.