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Patrick Amory's Extra Dark Chili

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This is my take on Texas red, though if properly executed it will come out a rich, dark chocolatey brown. No chocolate, sugar, beer or coffee is needed - all these flavors will emerge from the combination of the roasted dried chiles and browned, braised beef. The suet and beef broth are critical. Like all chilis, this one is best refrigerated and served the next day.

For chili powder:

6 dried ancho chiles

4 dried pasilla chiles

4 dried cascabel chiles

4-6 dried chiles de arbol

For chile:

1/4 cup suet (beef kidney fat)

1 1/2 lb first cut brisket, trimmed of all fat and cut into 1/8" cubes

1 lb ground beef

1 large onion, coarsely chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 serrano chile, minced

1 6-oz. can tomato paste (containing only tomatoes and salt)

1 cup thick beef stock, preferably homemade

3 1/2 tbs chili powder (above)

1 tbs cumin seeds, toasted and ground

3 anchovies, crumbled by hand

dried Mexican oregano


1-2 tbs salt

dried pequin chiles

Make the chile powder. Roast each of the chile types separately over medium heat in a large cast-iron pan until thoroughly dry and brittle and slightly colored. Keep the pan moving so that the chiles don't scorch. If necessary, heat the hard-to-dry anchos in a 250-degree oven for about 15 minutes. Allow to cool, then remove the seeds and interior walls and break into 1/2" pieces. Grind in a clean spice grinder, in batches if necessary. Place powder in bowl and mix thoroughly. Reserve 3 1/2 tbs for chile, and place the rest in a tightly sealed glass jar in a dark place for future use.

Heat half the suet in a large cast-iron frying pan over high heat. Brown the brisket in batches, allowing the pieces to sit undisturbed long enough to develop a real brown crust. Lift the meat out with a slotted spoon. Now do the same for the ground beef, breaking up any lumps with the back of the slotted spoon.

Add the rest of the suet to whatever remains in the pan and soften the onion over medium heat (4-6 minutes). Add the garlic and serrano and brown, stirring (2 minutes). Move the contents of the pan to the edges and add the tomato paste to the center. Brown it, stirring, for 3-4 minutes.

Add chili powder, ground cumin, anchovies, 1 tablespoon of the salt, a crumbled handful of Mexican oregano, and stock. Bring to a boil, stirring to scrape up any browned bits stuck to the bottom.

Transfer contents to a heavy pot such as a dutch oven, and add water to just cover the meat. Stir well. Bring to a boil, reduce to a bare simmer, and cook, uncovered, 3-4 hours.

Keep an eye on the pot and add extra hot water as needed to keep the beef barely covered (if some pieces stick above the liquid this is not a problem). The chili should thicken rapidly and stay thick - you can add masa harina if necessary but it probably will not be needed. You want to keep the meat moist but not drowned - only add the bare minimum of water. Taste after the first hour and crumble some pequins into the chili for extra heat if desired. In the last hour and half hour adjust for salt - you may need as much more as an extra tablespoon. Keep in mind that the final flavor will be very concentrated.

When done, remove from heat. Serve warm, or better, allow to cool, refrigerate, and reheat to serve the next day.

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