Chili Con Carne
PREP TIME: 5 Hours


To ensure the best chile flavor, I recommend toasting whole dried chiles and grinding them with a mini-chopper or spice-dedicated coffee grinder, all of which takes only ten (very well-spent) minutes. Select dried chiles that are moist and pliant like dried fruit. Count on trimming one-half to a full pound of waste from your chuck roast, so start with a four-pound roast to end up with three to three and a half pounds of beef cubes. For hotter chili, boost the heat with a pinch of cayenne or a dash of hot pepper sauce near the end of cooking. Serve the chili with any of the following side dishes: warm pinto or kidney beans, corn bread or chips, corn tortilla or tamales, rice, biscuits, or just plain crackers, and top with any of the following garnishes: chopped fresh cilantro leaves, minced white onion, diced avocado, shredded cheddar cheese or sour cream.


  • 3 tablespoons ancho chili powder or 3 medium pods (about ½ ounce), toasted and ground
  • 3 tablespoons New Mexico chili powder or 3 medium pods (about 3/4 ounce), toasted and ground
  • 2 tablespoons cumin seeds, toasted in a dry skillet over medium heat until fragrant, about 4 minutes, and ground
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano, preferably Mexican
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 4-pound beef chuck roast, trimmed of excess fat and cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 2 teaspoons salt, plus extra for seasoning
  • 8 ounces bacon (7 or 8 slices), cut into 1/4 inch pieces
  • 1 medium onion, minced (about 1 cup)
  • 5 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 4-5 small jalapeno chile peppers, cored, seeded, and minced
  • 1 cup canned crushed tomatoes or plain tomato sauce
  • 2 tablespoons juice from 1 medium lime
  • 5 tablespoons masa harina or 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • Ground black pepper

Mix chili powders, cumin, and oregano in small bowl and stir in ½ cup water to form thick taste; set aside. Toss beef cubes with salt; set aside. Fry bacon in large, heavy soup kettle or Dutch oven over medium-low heat until fat tenders 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 15 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 jalapeno; sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add chili paste; 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 a simmer until meat is tender and juices are dark, rich, and starting to thicken, about 2 hours. Mix masa harina with 2/3 cup water (or cornstarch with 3 tablespoons water) in a 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 or for up to 5 days. Reheat before serving.

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