Until Tuesday, I had only made one chili recipe, that of my mother’s “Bean Soup” from the cookbook she authored, Five Sundays. It is a recipe that ends with the instruction to purchase and ingest Bean-o. It was good, and crockpotable, but this, oh, this. Must be the bacon. This chili, served with the focaccia bread, is an incredible combo.
Chili con Carne
Adapted from Cooks Illustrated mag 1998
(gifted to me from Kim Wiseman)
1. Mix chili powders, cumin, and oregano in small bowl and stir in 1/2 cup water to form thick paste; set aside. Toss beef cubes with salt; set aside.
2. Fry bacon in large, heavy soup kettle or dutch oven over medium-low heat until fat renders and bacon crisps, about 10 minutes. Remove bacon with slotted spoon to paper towel-lined plate; pour all but 2 teaspoons fat from pot into small bowl; set aside. Increase heat to medium-high; sauté meat in four batches until well-browned on all sides, about 5 minutes per batch, adding additional 2 teaspoons bacon fat to pot as necessary. Reduce heat to medium, add 3 tablespoons bacon fat to now-empty pan. Add onion; sauté until softened, 5 to 6 minutes. Add garlic and jalaneño; sauté until fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Add reserved bacon and browned beef, crushed tomatoes or tomato sauce, lime juice, and 7 cups water; bring to simmer. Continue to cook at steady simmer until meat is tender and juices are dark, rich, and starting to thicken, about 2 hours.
3. Mix masa harina with 2/3 cup water (or cornstarch with 3 Tbsp. water) in small bowl to form smooth paste. Increase heat to medium; stir in paste and simmer until thickened, 5 to 10 minutes. Adjust seasoning generously with salt and ground black pepper. Serve immediately, or preferably, cool slightly, cover, and refrigerate overnight for up to 5 days. Reheat before serving.