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Cooking With Dried Chiles, Part 2: Chili Con Carne

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The first WCC-winning chili I tried making was 2000 winner from Jim Weller called Macktown Chili.

I loved the way Weller's recipe turned out when I recreated it, but

chili being the personal and intimate dish it is, I've since modified the formula to suit my liking. Now, it's the recipe I turn to whenever I

want to make chili, even though I subtly tweak it almost every time I make it,

mostly based on what I have available.


For Super Bowl Sunday, I made a batch of Linn's Macktown using a little chile puree and a whole lot of that chili powder I made the day before.


I started with three pounds of beef sirloin tip roast, which is easier

to find and less expensive than tri-tip. The two cuts are nearest to each other and make up a big part of the bottom sirloin. Both have a great, beefy flavor. You

can't go wrong with either, in my opinion, though tri-tip is better

marbled and thus better for grilling. Since we're cooking our meat in

liquid over a period of time, not grilling, tri roast will do just fine.


Cut the meat into half-inch cubes and season conservatively with salt,

black pepper, and chili powder. Set your chili vessel (a big, stainless

steel pot works best) over high heat and add a few tablespoons of

vegetable oil. Sear the meat, working in small batches in order to not

crowd the pot (in which case you will end up boiling your meat, not

browning it). You're looking for color and flavor on the meat, mainly, and to get rid of any excess liquid that will just water down our chili.


It should take a good five or six batches to brown up all of your

sirloin, but once it's done your pot will have all sorts of lovely,

charred bits at the bottom of your pot. This is good -- that's mega flavor right there.



Keep the pan over high heat, and add another two tablespoons of oil and

one very large white onion, diced. As the onion starts to sweat, add

your spices and aromatics. For this chili, I went with:


5 cloves of garlic, minced

1.5 TBS cascabel powder

1.5 TBS ancho powder

1 TBS arbol powder

2 TBS of cascabel and ancho puree

3 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce (freeze the rest of the can for a later use)

3 whole jalepenos, slit just under the stem

1/2 can of tomato paste

2 tsp. cumin

black pepper and kosher salt


Allow this mixture to sweat for five to 10 minutes, stirring

constantly. Once the onions have started to melt along with the spices

into a thick paste, you're ready for the best part: Add half a cup of dark

ale, preferably something flavorful like a Brooklyn Brown Ale or a Florida Native 11 Brown. Next, drink the rest of the bottle. You've earned it.

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John Linn