I absolutely love chili. Honestly though, who doesn’t? A meaty meal with lively south-western/Mexican inspired flavors are sure to please anyone. Winter brings out the chili cravings in me, but I’ve already shown you a fiery chili once before, so I thought I’d try to mix things up a bit and bring you a new twist on this favorite meal of mine. Rather than the usual approach to chili where the focus is on a variety of dried peppers, I opted to work with a large variety of fresh peppers (so be calm Texans, I know this isn’t an authentic chili!), and to make things a bit more interesting, I also chose to steer this to have decidedly Mexican flavors by working in the major components for a strong set of molé flavors. And so Chili Molé was born.
Now like I’ve said, I love chili, but this one gets a big wow! It beautifully met the goal of bleding the characteristics of a molé and chili with very complex flavors–dark, spicy, and harmoniously integrated as one cohesive, mysterious flavor. The chili also has a nice and spicy heat that lingers throughout the entire experience, just coating your mouth for a good while after the fact. There’s a big variety of fresh peppers, Malta (its a South American soft drink, if you’ve never tried it) for a stout/sweet flavor, a set of toasted spices (almonds, sesame seeds, cinnamon, etc), chocolate–really, a lot of surprises that come together to make quite a bowl of chili. Its a tough one to really articulately describe, but it was not like any chili I’d had before and I’ll definitely be making this one again.
This is also my entry for Jeff’s Chili Cook Off, which I will be eagerly checking in on so I can drool over a variety of chilis.
- 1/4 lb thick cut bacon (5 or so slices of thick cut bacon)
- ~3.5 lb bottom round (do not use ground beef)
- 1 Tbsp cumin
- 1/4 cup golden raisins
- 21 oz Malta (3 small bottles)
- Molé spices
- 1/4 cup almonds
- 1/4 cup sesame seeds
- 2 tsp black peppercorns
- 1 Tbsp annato seeds
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 tsp cloves
- 2 shallots
- 6 cloves garlic
- 1 stalk celery
- 3 dried red chilis (Indian, not sure of the proper name)
- 1 red bell pepper
- 1 poblano pepper
- 3 jalapeño pepper
- 4 finger hot
- 2 habanero
- 4 serrano
- 3 anaheim
- 1/4 cup good bittersweet chocolate
- 28 oz can whole tomatoes
- 15 oz can tomato sauce
- 2 tsp oregano
- 2 tsp sweet Hungarian paprika
- 1 tsp ground thyme
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 3 bay leaves
- Optional: 1/3 cup masa harina
- 1 can of kidney beans
- 1 can black beans
Given all the fresh peppers, there’s a lot of chopping to do, so somewhat finely chop up all the vegetables. Also, soak the raisins in some of the Malta to soften them up.
Chop the beef up into 1/2-1 inch cubes. In a large Dutch oven, cook the bacon until done and set it aside, reserving the grease to cook with.
Season the beef chunks with salt, pepper, and cumin all over, browning it in the bacon grease for 3 minutes per side (in batches so as not to crowd/steam the beef). Set the beef aside.
Now, in a dry pan, toast the molé flavors (e.g. the almond, sesame, peppercorns, annato, cinnamon, cloves, etc) for just a few minutes until they begin to perfume, stirring to prevent burning.
Pour the spices and raisins into a food processor with some of the Malta, grinding into a fine paste.
With the spice paste made, now you can get to sautéing the shallots and celery for 5 minutes before adding the garlic for another minute. Finally, add all of the remaining fresh peppers, sweating them for 5-10 minutes.
With the veggies softened, deglaze the pan with the spice/Malta mixture (and any Malta that remains). Add in all of the remaining dry spices while you wait for everything to warm up. Once it is, stir in the chocolate to melt it. Follow this up with the crumbled bacon from earlier, tomatoes, and browned beef.
At this point, you should let things simmer (uncovered) for about 20-30 minutes. Then cover it up, drop the heat to low, and simmer for another hour. Take a taste and adjust the seasoning and spices as you see fit.
Re-cover and continue to simmer for at least another hour. The flavors should really start to develop and the chili should thicken up a bit.
Finally, when things are just about done, take a look at the texture. It ought to be fairly thick and now you have a judgement call. I wanted my chili to be really thick, so I added some masa harina now, beating it in well. If you like the texture as it is, don’t bother with the masa.
Then, add in the beans, stirring gently to incorporate them into the chili without mushing them up. Continue to simmer for another 10 minutes.
At this point, the chili is done and your stomach is growling loudly, so grab yourself a bowl, and dig in! Enjoy!