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Texas Chili


· 2 ounces dried, whole New Mexico (California), guajillo, or pasilla chiles, or a combination (6 to 8 chiles)

· 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin seed

· 5 tablespoons lard

· 2 pounds boneless beef chuck, trimmed and cut into 3/4-inch cubes

· ½ onion, finely chopped

· 3 garlic cloves, minced

· 2 cups beef stock

· 2 1/4 cups water, plus more as needed

· 2 tablespoons masa harina

· 1 tablespoon firmly packed dark brown sugar, plus more as needed

· 1 1/2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar, plus more as needed

· Salt & Pepper to taste

· To Serve: Sour Cream & Lime Wedges


1. Place the chiles in a large skillet over medium-low heat and gently toast until fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Place the chiles in a bowl and cover them with very hot water and soak until soft, 15 to 20 minutes.

2. Drain the chiles; split them and remove stems and seeds. Place the chiles in a blender and add the cumin, black pepper, 1 tablespoon salt and 1/4 cup water. Purée the mixture, adding more water as needed until a smooth paste forms. Set aside.

3. Return skillet to medium-high heat and melt 2 tablespoons of the lard. When it begins to smoke, add half of the beef. Brown beef. Transfer to a bowl and repeat with 2 more tablespoons of lard and the remaining beef.

4. Let the skillet cool slightly and place it over medium-low heat. Melt the remaining 1 tablespoon of lard in the skillet; add the onion and garlic and cook gently for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.

5. Add the stock, the remaining 2 cups water and gradually whisk in the masa harina to avoid lumps. Stir in the reserved chile paste. Add the beef and juices and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook about 2 hours, until very thick and about 2 cups of sauce remain.

6. Stir in the brown sugar and vinegar and season to taste; gently simmer 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the chili stand for at least 30 minutes, during which time the meat will absorb about half of the remaining sauce in the skillet. Adjust the balance of flavors with a bit of additional salt, sugar, or vinegar, if you like.

7. Reheat gently and serve in individual bowls with a dollop of sour cream on top and a lime wedge on the side.


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