Bourbon Chili

Bourbon Chili

Ganconagh Ganconagh
1 cup Bourbon
2 dried Ancho chilies
1 dried Pasilla chile
2 dried Guajillo chilies
2 dried Chipotle chilies
(heat lovers add a dried habanero)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 pounds boneless beef short ribs
3 cups onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup masa harina, to thicken chili, if desired
Salt and black pepper

Toast the chilies in a large, dry skillet over medium-low heat until lightly charred and fragrant, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.

Bring 4 cups of water to a boil and pour over the chilies. Weight the chilies down in the water and submerge with a paper towel. Allow the chilies to soften for about 20 minutes in the hot water. Drain the chilies once they are soft, reserving the soaking liquid.

Add the softened chili peppers to the blender with 1 cup of bourbon. Puree until smooth.

Heat a large skillet or Dutch oven over high heat. Pat the short ribs dry with a paper towel and season them generously with salt and black pepper. Add the tablespoon of oil to the hot pan. Reduce the heat to medium high. Sear the short ribs on all sides until well browned, about 3-4 minutes per side. Remove the short ribs to a plate and pour off the browning liquid and fat into a small bowl. Return the pan to the heat.

Add the chopped onion and minced garlic to the skillet and cook until softened, about 10 minutes, stirring often.

Add the cumin, oregano, thyme, brown sugar, vinegar, browning liquid, chile water and chile puree to the pot. Season with a heavy pinch of salt. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and simmer over low heat until the meat is very tender, about 3 hours, turning the ribs every 30 minutes and adding water as necessary if the braise becomes too dry.

Once the short ribs can break apart with a spoon, remove the ribs from the stew and break the short ribs apart into small chunks using two spoons or forks.

The chili braise in the pot should be the consistency of a thick soup. Reduce over low heat if necessary or add more water to reach desired consistency. Skim any excess fat and oil from the surface of the chili and discard. Stir the pieces of short rib back into the chili braise. Add an extra splash of bourbon if you want.

Thicken the stew with masa harina (fine cornmeal makes a great substitute) if you desire: Ladle 2 cups of chili into a bowl and stir in the masa harina. Return the mixture to the pot and stir in with the rest of the chili. Simmer for 15 minutes. Serve the chili hot garnished with chopped scallions, cilantro and/or sour cream.
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