This is a delicious all beef chili that was the result of my tinkering with a recipe from Lisa Fain's Homesick Texan. I used similar ingredients but adopted the strategy for a Mexican mole of making a toasted chile and spice sauce that I then fried for extra flavor. Then I cooked the chili is a big cast iron Dutch oven in a low oven, which gave it extra caramelized flavor. Even though the smell during the long cooking period is irresistible, you should really hold off and let the flavor continue to develop and mellow overnight and serve this the following day. I've recommended a combination of dried chiles that produce a chili with medium heat, but if you want more spiciness, increase the number of guajillo chiles. —Fairmount_market
Heat a skillet and toast the chiles about one minute on each side until they puff up and become fragrant. Remove them to a plate to cool. Also heat the garlic cloves, still in their skins, until they start to blacken.
When they are cool enough to handle, remove the stems and seeds from the chiles and immerse them in 2 cups hot water, along with the sun dried tomatoes.
When the garlic cloves are done, peel them and put them in a blender.
Toast the cumin and fennel seeds in the skillet until fragrant for about half a minute and add these to the blender, along with the cocoa powder, cinnamon, and salt.
Spoon in the softened chiles and tomatoes. Add the soaking liquid, strained. Blend until you have a smooth paste.
Heat a large Dutch oven and cook the bacon slices until the fat is rendered. Remove the bacon slices, dice and reserve.
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.
Generously salt and pepper the cubed beef. Over medium heat, brown the cubed beef in the rendered bacon fat, working in batches so that you do not crowd the meat. Remove each batch to a plate.
Add a little canola oil if necessary and saute the onion until glassy. Add the diced pepper and saute another few minutes.
Now add the chile paste and fry for a couple of minutes until fragrant. Then add back the beef with any accumulated juices, the diced bacon, and the coffee, beer, and sugar. Bring the pot to a simmer, cover, and transfer to a 250 degree oven.
Cook the chili for about 5 hours, stirring occasionally, until the meat has melted into buttery softness and the flavors have blended. if it looks dry at any time, add a little water. Toward the end, taste and add more brown sugar and salt if necessary. This is even better cooked a day ahead. Serve with a dollop of sour cream and sprinkle of chopped green onion and cilantro.
I'm a biology professor and mother of two, and in my (limited) free time I love to cook, which is much more forgiving than laboratory science. Last year I helped start a farmers market in my neighborhood, and to promote it, I created a food blog: fairmountmarket.blogspot.com. I enjoy the challenge of coming up with recipes for local, seasonal ingredients and finding fun ways to cook with my children.