Dotty Griffith, dining editor of The Dallas Morning News, shares this recipe, adapted from one in her book Wild About Chili.
4 dried ancho chilies, steamed and seeded
4 dried arbol chilies (or 1 extra dried ancho chili), steamed and seeded
2 japones chilies, steamed and seeded or 1/2 -1 tsp. ground cayenne
1 T. cumin seed
7 cloves garlic
1 tsp. dried chili pequins, crushed
5 fresh jalapenos, stemmed and seeded
1 (14 1/2-oz) can unsalted chopped tomatoes (undrained) or 1-lb. fresh tomatoes, chopped
2 tsp. salt
1/4 lb. chopped beef suet (ask the butcher for this)
4 lbs. lean beef, such as trimmed chuck roast or chuck tender, cut in 1/4-inch cubes
1 tsp. sugar
1 c. red wine
2-3 c. water
1/4 c. masa preparado (a flour tortilla mix)
Place first 3 ingredients and enough water to barely cover in a small saucepan. Bring chilies to a boil over medium heat, and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes. Remove chilies, reserving liquid. Place softened chilies, cumin, garlic, chili pequins, jalapenos, tomatoes, and salt in food processor, and process until smooth; set aside.
In a cast-iron pot or large Dutch oven, render enough suet to make 1/4 cup. Cook meat in rendered fat over high heat until meat turns gray (cook away most of the liquid, but do not brown); drain excess fat. Add chilies mixture, sugar, and wine to meat. Add just enough water (2-3 cups) to almost cover meat. Bring mixture to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer uncovered about 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally. Add water as needed to maintain same level.
Combine masa preparado with just enough water to make a smooth past; press out all lumps with the back of a spoon. Gradually stir paste into chili to thicken. Taste, adding more salt and chili powder, if desired. (For a hotter chili, add some of the reserved liquid from chilies.) Cook about 30 minutes longer over very low heat, stirring frequently. Yield: 10 cups.
From the October 1997 issue.