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6 dried ancho or pasilla -- chilies
3 pounds beef chuck -- cut in cubes
1 large onion -- chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 3 tb chili powder -- (unsalted)
3 1/2 cups boiling beef broth
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 cloves garlic -- crushed
2 teaspoons ground cumin seed
1 2 tb cornmeal -- (optional)
Ancho chilies (sometimes called pasilla chilies) are sweet and fairly mild. In this recipe, they give the chili a rich, dark color and provide a unique, slightly spicy flavor.
Remove stems and seeds from chilies. Coarsely chop chilies. Place in bowl, cover with boiling beef broth and let steep for 30 minutes. Heat oil in large Dutch oven, add onion and cook, stirring constantly, until soft and lightly browned. Add garlic, salt and beef cubes. Cook, stirring constantly, just until beef loses its pink color.
Strain chilies, reserving liquid and chilies. Stir 2.5 cups of chili liquid into beef. Stir in chili powder and ground cumin seed and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, over medium-low heat for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
Place soaked chilies and remaining liquid in blender container, cover and blend until smooth. (If necessary, add 1/2 cup more of water to make blending easier.) Add mixture to beef and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes or until meat is tender. If a thicker chili is desired, gradually stir in cornmeal 1 tbs at a time then cook, stirring constantly, until thickened. Taste and season with salt as desired.
Remove from heat and ladle into bowls. Serve with a variety of condiments such as chopped yellow peppers, red onions, tomatoes, avocado, fresh lime juice or grated cheese.