Every time I make a batch of chili, I’m reminded of how many variables are really involved in determining its outcome. For this recipe, I used a really smoky, slightly sweeter bacon than I normally have on hand and as a result, it ended up making the chili sweeter than I expected. But in the end, it worked really well with the smokiness of the chiles. Using the blended re-hydrated chiles in the sauce gave the chili an overall smokiness that I just loved. If you can’t find them, or want to skip this step, you could substitute with chipotle salsa instead (it comes in a small can and is easy to find in most markets). Like with this recipe, just be sure to add it in small quantities, tasting as you go, to make sure it develops into the flavor you want.
1 ounce dried chipotle chiles, stemmed, seeded and chopped
1 1/2 cups low-sodium beef stock, divided
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 slices smoked bacon, diced
1 pound ground beef
1/2 red onion, diced
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon freshly grated mexican chocolate
1/4 teaspoon chili power
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/2 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
Freshly grated sharp cheddar cheese
Corn chips or fritos, for dipping
1. In a medium saucepan, add dried chiles and 1 cup beef stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes. Set aside to cool slightly.
2. When cooled, transfer chiles and stock to a blender and purée until smooth (add a bit more stock if necessary). Set aside.
3. In a large stock pot or dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add bacon and cook until crispy. Reduce heat to medium and add beef, breaking up into smaller pieces, and cook until browned. Add red onion and cook for about 5 minutes or until softened. Season with salt and pepper. Add garlic and cook for another 1-2 minutes. Add tomato paste, diced tomatoes, chocolate, chili powder, cumin and cinnamon. Stir in 1/4 cup of puréed chiles and allow to simmer for 1 hour.
4. Taste chili and adjust spices as necessary. Stir in another 1-2 tablespoons of puréed chiles, depending on how hot you want chili to be. Add beans and allow to cook for another 10-15 minutes, until beans are warmed through. Serve warm with desired toppings.