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A Bowl of Red

A chile recipe from Frank X. Tolbert, author of the definitive book on Chili, A Bowl of Red,
12 Dried Ancho Chilies
3 pounds lean beef chuck, cut in thumb-size pieces
2 ounces beef suet
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon dried oregano 
1 tablespoon Cayenne
1 tablespoon Tabasco Sauce
2 or more cloves garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons masa harina, optional

Break off the stems of the chilies and remove the seeds. Place the chilies in a small saucepan and cover them with water. Simmer the chilies for 30 minutes. Puree the chilies in a blender with a little of the cooking liquid to make a smooth, thin paste. Use as little of the liquid as possible, unless you want a soupy chili. Pour the puree in a Dutch oven or heavy saucepan.

In a heavy skillet, sear the meat in two batches with the beef suet until the meat is gray. Transfer each batch to the chilie puree, then pour enough of the chilie cooking liquid to cover the meat by 2 inches. Bring the chili to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer the chili for 30 minutes.

Remove the chili from the heat and stir in the rest of the ingredients. Return the chili to the heat and simmer for another 45 minutes, keeping covered. Stir occasionally. Add more chili cooking liquid if you think the mixture will burn.

When 45 minutes are up, add the masa harina which is thinned with water, Cover the chili and simmer for another 30 minutes until the meat is done. During the last 30 minutes, taste and adjust the seasonings. Take the chili off the heat and refrigerate it over night. Skim off fat as you wish from the chili before re-heating. Serve it hot.

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