This is a take on traditional Texas chili, meaning it's all meat with no beans to get in the way. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for beans in chili and while I was tempted to add them here, we wanted to stay close to the recipe just to see how it does without them. Using that roast we thawed, we cut the hunk of meat into bite-sized cubes, dusted them with flour and showed plenty of love by searing the cubes off, browning all sides. Even if you think your pot is big enough to hold all the meat at once, I do suggest doing this in two batches, ensuring a good crust without steaming the cubes.
Into the intense browned bits left behind once the meat had been taken out, plenty of onion was added to sweat out, followed by a tiny hill of freshly minced garlic. When the pungent garlic had been tamed, the beef was added back (don't forget to scoop any accumulated juices in as well!), along with fire-roasted tomatoes, ancho chile powder, oregano and cumin. The original recipe called for fresh tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped - however, staying in tune with trying to cull the pantry, I used what we already had on hand. If fresh tomatoes appeal more to you, you'll need about 1 1/2 cups worth.
As the beef simmered for a good hour, we used that time to broil a handful of poblano chiles. When the skins on the chiles had blistered and blacked, the chiles were placed in a bowl, covered and left to steam from the residual heat. Not only does this make peeling the tougher skin away a breeze, but the roasted flesh left behind is more assertive and robust. Don't worry if all the blackened bits don't come off and whatever you do, don't rinse the roasted peppers - you'd be washing all that flavor right down the drain!
The poblanos, after being chopped, were stirred into the pot after the first hour, with a minced chipotle chile thrown in for a punch of smoky heat. If you're not a fan of much heat, try using half of the chipotle (seeded for even less heat) to start - you could always add extra later if you find it too mild. After one more long stint of simmering, we stirred in a handful of cilantro for a ray of brightness and scooped the thick mixture into bowls. For a snazzy finish, we sprinkled each bowl with a bit of sharp white cheddar and more cilantro. Thick, rich and packing a punch, I have to admit that I didn't miss the beans, especially with those remarkably tender chunks of beef!
If you don't like your chili on the extra-thick side, you may want to think about adding a cup or so of beef broth (or your favorite beer!) when you add the tomatoes. Because we would be leaving soon for Charlotte, I didn't need many servings so I cut down the original recipe by half. If you would like to serve a small army or have extra portions for the freezer, simply double the listed ingredients (making sure the pot will be big enough) and keep the cooking times the same.
Chili con Carne