We’re back on track. Less than a week from Milwaukee to Chicago to Tokyo to Bangkok to Penang and back to Bangkok — whew. I’m tired but well-fed and well-stoked on good visits with family and friends.
As you in North America know, it’s that autumn time of year when the colors turn, the air chills and harvests abound in reds and golds. It’s precisely the time of year when I miss a warm sweater, a glass of red wine and a hot meal with people I really enjoy. I had all of that inÂ one evening when our dear friends invited us for dinner to their Oconomowoc home. Chandler (who, many years ago, acquired the name “The Hunky Hippie”) made chili. Chandler’s the kind of guy who will paint a house, build a cabinet, change his daughter’s diaper, harvest his garden and roast his own chili powder in one afternoon — and it all turns out fabulously.Â He’s been kind enough here to share his detailed directions for making home-made roasted ancho chili with chuck roast. I prefer to call it simply The Hunky Hippie’s Chili.
The dinner party
3 medium-sized dried ancho chili pods
3 New Mexico red dried chilies
2 tablespoons whole cumin seeds
4 pounds chuck roast
7 strips bacon
1 minced onion
1 can crushed tomatoes
juice of 1 fresh lime
3 tablespoons cornstarch
chopped cilantro, sour cream, lime, salt to garnish
First toast three medium-sized dried ancho chili pods with 3 New Mexico red dried chilies and roughly 2 tablespoons whole cumin seeds.Â I just threw them all into a cast-iron skillet and stuck them in a 350-degree oven until they were dry and crispy. Take the seeds and stems out of the peppers and throw all the pepper meat and the seeds and also some dried oregano intoÂ whatever contraption you have thatÂ will pulverize the ingredients into a powder. Mix the powder into a paste with half a cup of water and set aside.
I used chuck roast for the meat (about 4Â pounds cut into one-inch squares) because when stewed for a long, long time, the meatÂ gets really tender. But I guess any meat would work. Just adjust the cooking time so you don’t cook the shit out of it!For the chuck roast, take about 7 strips of bacon cut into little pieces and brown them slowly in a heavy Dutch oven or big pot.Â When they are done, take them out with a slotted spoon and save for later.Â Pour out most of the bacon fat.Â Brown the meat in three batches over high heat in the pot with the remaining fat. Add any of the excess fat you need along the way.Â
When all the meat is browned and removed from the pot, throw in a minced onion, some chopped garlic (a lot if you like), 4-5 minced jalepenos.Â After a couple of minutes, add the chili paste you made earlier.Â Stir that for a couple minutes and then add the reserved bacon and browned meat.Â Add a can of fresh or crushed tomatoes, the juice of a lime and seven cups of water.Â Bring to a simmer andÂ cook slowly for about 2 hours.Â If you use chuck roast meat, you will know when it is done. It just falls apart.
When it was done, I thickened it with three tablespoons of cornstarch. Make sure to mix the cornstarch with some of the hot liquid in a separate container before you add to the chili.
Lastly, garnish with with whatever freshness you like! Enjoy –Â and experiment with variations and other types of peppers.
Â In the garden
Fall squash to accompany the chili