OK, so I’ve never been a big fan of chili. It’s on a short list of foods that I never ate growing up, a fact that baffles a lot of people, especially Texans (who sometimes call chili “a bowl of red”). This response from the Lone Star crowd was the first clue that there was likely to be super delicious chili out there that I had yet to sample. I was finally inspired to cook some the other day when I came across this Rick Bayless recipe with ancho chilies, which we adapted to the items on hand. It has phenomenal flavor, especially after sitting a day or two, and makes good use of locally available stuff.

Charlie ate two bowls and offered none of his usual helpful cooking pointers. Of course, sometimes his tips provoke an offer for him to do a bit of his own cooking, but that’s another story. Here’s the recipe.

Recipe: Hot Chili con Carne with Anchos and Pintos

1 cup dry pinto beans / 1 lb ground beef / 1 onion, chopped / 3-4 assorted peppers such as poblano or bell / ancho chili paste* to taste /2 chopped chipotle peppers, optional / 1 cup corn kernels / salt & pepper / shredded cheese to taste / chopped cilantro to taste

Cook the pintos until tender in a quart of water, about 15 minutes in the pressure cooker plus time for the pressure to release, or 90 minutes in a regular pot. Brown the ground beef in a heavy pot over medium-high heat, about 5 minutes. Add onions and cook until they’re translucent, another 5 minutes. Add ancho paste (we used a half-cup of homemade) and chipotles and stir in. Add enough water or beef stock to cover the beef and onions. Turn heat down and simmer for an hour or more. Meanwhile, chop peppers raw or if you prefer, roast them under a high broiler, remove skins and seeds, and then chop. When chili is done, add cooked beans, chopped peppers, and corn and cook 10 minutes to blend flavors. Adjust salt and pepper. Like many stews, this one is even better the next day. Garnish with shredded cheese and cilantro. Adapted from Rick Bayless. We served with tomato rice.

*Ancho paste can be purchased in specialty stores. Or, blend together 4 rehydrated ancho chilies, some of the chili-soaking water, 2 cloves garlic, ½ tsp dry oregano, dash of cumin, dash of ground cloves, and a grinding of pepper.

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