2 lbs 85% lean ground beef
2 Tbsp plus 2 c water
Salt and pepper
¾ tsp baking soda
6 dried ancho chiles, stemmed, seeded, and torn into 1-inch pieces
1 oz tortilla chips, crushed (¼ cup)
2 Tbsp ground cumin
1 Tbsp paprika
1 Tbsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp ground coriander
2 tsp dried oregano
½ tsp dried thyme
1 (14.5-oz) can whole peeled tomatoes
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped fine
3 garlic cloves, minced
1—2 teaspoons minced canned chipotle chile in adobo sauce
1 (15-ounce) can pinto beans
2 teaspoons sugar
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
Coarsely chopped cilantro
Chopped red onionºº
1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 275º. Toss beef with 2 tablespoons water, 1½ tsp salt, and baking soda in bowl until thoroughly combined. Set aside for 20 minutes.
2 Meanwhile, place anchos in Dutch oven set over medium-high heat; toast, stirring frequently, until fragrant, 4 to 6 minutes, reducing heat if anchos begin to smoke. Transfer to food processor and let cool.
3. Add tortilla chips, cumin, paprika, garlic powder, coriander, oregano, thyme, and 2 teaspoons pepper to food processor with anchos and process until finely ground, about 2 minutes. Transfer mixture to bowl. Process tomatoes and their juice in now-empty workbowl until smooth, about 30 seconds.
4 Heat oil in now-empty pot over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 4 to 6 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add beef and cook, stirring with wooden spoon to break meat up into ¼-inch pieces, until beef is browned and fond begins to form on pot bottom, 12 to 14 minutes. Add ancho mixture and chipotle; cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes.
5. Add remaining 2 cups water, beans and their liquid, sugar, and tomato puree. Bring to boil, scraping bottom of pot to loosen any browned bits. Cover, transfer to oven, and cook until meat is tender and chili is slightly thickened, 1 1/2 to 2 hours, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.
6. Remove chili from oven and let stand, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Stir in any fat that has risen to top of chili, then add vinegar and season with salt to taste. Serve, passing lime wedges, cilantro, and chopped onion separately. (Chili can be made up to 3 days in advance.)
Mom's chili has always been one of my favorite dishes. This is my favorite chili recipe. There are a few extra steps in it, but it's worth it for the depth of flavor and moist meat. I make this recipe once a year during opening weekend of March Madness and have a bowl while cheering on my picks. Grandma Penny was the first person to introduce me to how exciting college basketball can be, and of course Pop-Pop (John Arms), Mom, Dad (John), Shadow and Angie, and Jake and Caitlin and I would have family March Madness contests each year, until we had to ban Pop-Pop for being impossible to beat.