Game Day Special: Chili Con Carne

OK. You and your friends are gathered around the TV riveted on the Super Bowl. Chips and salsa have been passed about, but now it’s half time and the call is for something more stick-to-your ribs satisfying. Chili!
Ingredients
1 T cumin seeds
2 medium (roughly 3 by 5 inches) chiles ancho
2 T pure chile powder
2 t ground Mexican oregano
4 strips applewood smoked bacon
2 ½ lbs. well marbled beef chuck cut into ½ inch cubes
Salt
1 medium white onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 14-ounce can whole San Marzano tomatoes (preferable D.O.P.)**
1 T freshly squeezed lime juice
1 t sugar
1 t masa harina
1 14-oz. can dark red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
Directions
1. Toast cumin seeds in a small cast iron skillet until lightly browned and fragrant. Cool. Pulverize in a small grinder (such as a coffee grinder used only for spices).*
2. In the same skillet, toast chiles ancho until crisp. Turn over but be careful not to burn. Tear into pieces. discarding stem and seeds, and place in a bowl. Cover with 2 ½ cups hot water. Set aside.
3. Mix chile powder and oregano together. Add enough water to form a light paste. Set aside.
4. Cook bacon in a large skillet on medium high until crisp. Use a slotted spoon to remove from pan and set aside on a paper towel. Pour bacon fat in a separate container and set aside. When bacon cools, crumble it into small pieces and set aside.
5. Increase heat to medium high and add one tablespoon bacon fat back into pan. Work in batches to brown the beef. Don’t crowd or you will steam the beef. Brown on all sides and lightly salt as you cook. Remove from pan and set aside.
6. Add another tablespoon of bacon fat to pan. Add chopped onions and sauté until soft. Add garlic and cook until fragrant. Add chile and oregano paste and continue cooking for another 2 to 3 minutes.
7. Put onions and garlic, beef, bacon and tomatoes (breaking them up with your fingers) into a 6-quart Dutch oven.
8. Pulse ancho chile water in a food processor a few times. (There will still be pieces of chile in the liquid.) Strain into pot and add lime juice and sugar. Bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 1 ½ hours. Then uncover and maintain a bare simmer for another half hour.
9. Mix the masa harina in a small amount of water to make a slurry. Stir into the chili to thicken it. Mix in the kidney beans. Add salt and adjust seasonings to taste.
Serve with any or all of the following garnishes on the side:
grated sharp cheddar
chopped red onion
sour cream
sliced scallions
diced fresh tomatoes
chopped fresh cilantro
*Ground cumin comes in a spice bottle, of course, but if you toast and grind your own, you will be transported to spice heaven by the aroma and fresh taste.
**D.O.P. refers to tomatoes that have been processed in the same place they were grown.
These recipes are by Phyllis Kirigin sweetpaprika.wordpress.com  Phyllis is a resident of Croton-on-Hudson and is an avid cook and food blogger.  She loves all things culinary, focusing on using fresh ingredients and promoting local farmers and artisans. She can be reached at [email protected]