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Kevin’s Famous Chili


3 ounces ancho chiles, stemmed, seeded, and cut into ½ -inch pieces
1 ounce cascabel chiles, stemmed, seeded, and cut into ½ -inch pieces
3 tablespoons cornmeal
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon freshly ground toasted cumin seeds
1 tablespoon dried oregano
4 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 pounds chuck steak, trimmed and diced into very small cubes
1 large Spanish onion, chopped
4 large garlic cloves, minced
2 jalapeños, seeded and chopped
1 habanero pepper, seeded and chopped (optional)
1 (12-ounce) bottle Mexican lager
6 plum tomatoes, cored and chopped
1 (12-ounce) can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Shredded white cheddar cheese, for serving (optional)
Optional garnishes: chopped parsley, sliced scallions, corn kernels, sliced jalapeños, corn chips, and sour cream


1. In a dry pan, toast the ancho and cascabel chiles until fragrant and barely smoking, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a food processor and process until ground to a fine powder, about 3 minutes. Add the cornmeal, cocoa powder, cumin, and oregano and pulse to combine. Add ¾ cup of the stock and process until a paste forms. Set the spice paste aside.

2. In a large stockpot, heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the beef in batches to avoid crowding the pan and sear until browned on all sides, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and set aside. Add the onion, garlic, jalapeños, and habanero to the pot and sweat briefly, about 1 minute. Pour in the beer and cook, stirring and scraping up all the browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Add the tomatoes, kidney beans, and brown sugar and return the beef to the pan. Stir in the spice paste and the remaining 31/4 cups stock until combined. Bring to a bare simmer. Simmer for 2 to 3 hours, until the beef is tender and the chili has thickened. Season with salt and pepper.

3. Ladle into bowls, then top with shredded cheese and garnish as desired.