Chuck Wagon Chili
By Leslie Bilderback 04/01/2011
4 to 6 dried red chiles (pasilla or guajillo)
3 tablespoons bacon fat
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
3 or 4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon whole dried cumin seed, toasted and ground
2 or 3 stale corn tortillas, ripped into pieces
2 pounds grass-fed beef (chuck roast works nicely), diced small or ground
1 large can stewed tomatoes, chopped, with juice
2 cups cooked beans (your choice — black, kidney, pinto, etc.)
Salt and pepper to taste
Water as needed
1. Roast chile pods in a 400º oven until soft and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Cool until crisp, then remove seeds and stems. (Wear gloves to prevent capsicum from touching your hands.) Place in a small saucepan, cover with water and bring to a boil. At the boil, remove from heat and let sit 30 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, set a large stew pot over high heat, add bacon fat, onion, celery and carrot and cook until tender. Reduce heat and add garlic, oregano and cumin. Add tortilla pieces and stir to moisten. Add meat and cook until browned, about 30 minutes.
3. Remove chiles from water and puree in a blender. (Add chile water as needed to create a fine puree.) Add puree to the pot, along with tomatoes and beans. Cook for 30 minutes on low heat, adding water as needed to reach desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper before serving with a dollop of sour cream and sourdough biscuits.