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This is a thick, smoky, spicy, colorful chili. I recommend letting it simmer with the lid cocked for at least three hours for the best flavor. This way, it has just enough heat to get your blood flowing, but not so much that it makes your throat tickle. The longer it cooks, the more heat escapes, leaving the flavor of the peppers. It's good with just about anything, but we like it with a good ol' Southern cornbread (without sugar). Even better the next day!
- 1 1⁄2 lbs ground beef or 1 1⁄2 lbs lean round steak, cubed
- 4 -6 slices bacon
- 2 (28 ounce) canswhole stewed tomatoes, in juice
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 bell pepper, any color, chopped
- 3 jalapenos, seeds and ribs removed
- 1 large sweet onion
- 1 (15 ounce) can chili beans
- 1 (15 ounce) can black beans
- 1 (15 ounce) can kidney beans
- 1 (15 ounce) can corn, drained
- 2 canned chipotle peppers, seeded and chopped, and
- 1 -2 teaspoon adobo sauce
- 1 -2 tablespoon arbol chili powder (Mexican grocery)
- 1⁄2-1 1⁄2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1⁄2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon seasoning salt
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- Cook bacon until crisp, remove from skillet, break into pieces and reserve. Put 2-4 T of the bacon drippings in a stockpot over medium heat and cook the meat, onions, bell pepper, jalapeno, garlic, and chipotle peppers (or 1 7 oz. can San Marcos chipotle salsa).
- Crush the whole tomatoes with your fingers and add to the meat mixture. Pour in all of the juice from the can. Rinse and drain black beans and kidney beans; add to pot. Add chili beans with the gravy. Add corn. Bring to a boil, reduce heat.
- Add the bacon. Begin sprinkling in the chile de arbol, cinnamon and cumin slowly, a little at a time. The cumin and cinnamon will accentuate each other, but too much of any one spice, especially cumin, will take over all of the other flavors. Season to taste with seasoning salt and black pepper. Let this simmer for at least three hours. To thicken, cock the lid sideways and let it cook that way for a while. Right before serving, stir in a couple of pinches of dark brown sugar (not too much! It's a secret). The right thickness can be tested by standing a spoon up in the pot. If it falls over slowly, the chili has attained the perfect thickness.
- *All measurements are estimations. I add spices slowly and use my sense of smell to determine whether or not I need to add more. This way, it's next to impossible to ruin it. When in doubt, taste it.