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Chile Colorado

Beans or no beans, this dish's hearty goodness is not open to debate 
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  • photo by John Hoffman, DU
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By Scott Leysath

Nothing seems to get chili aficionados heated up like a debate over whether to add beans to the pot. To some, chili just isn't chili unless it's bean-free. Others eagerly add beans to the mix, but that can spark further debate over which beans to use.

Beans or no beans, I'm not picky. I'm fine with any batch of chili that is flavorful, thick, rich, balanced, and not too spicy-hot. Notice, however, that my recipe is called chile, not chili. The latter is an Americanized spelling that evolved when we started messing around with a traditional Mexican dish. My recipe is a traditional red chile—hence the word  colorado, which means “red” in Spanish. 

The dried reddish brown chilies you see hanging in your local market form the flavor backbone of this hearty red chile. I prefer the medium to large dried peppers, which are typically milder in flavor than the little ones. Just soak them in warm water for 30 minutes and purée them in a food processor or blender. The following recipe can be used with ducks, geese, antlered game, wild hogs, or any combination of wild game. Of course, feel free to add some beans to the pot if you're so inclined.

Preparation Time: 20 minutes    
Cooking Time: 2 hours
Serves: 6

Ingredients

  • 6–8 New Mexico dried chilies, washed and stems removed 
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 4 cups skinless duck or goose breast fillets, cut into 1-inch cubes 
  • 1 large onion, chopped 
  • 2 Anaheim peppers, chopped 
  • 6 garlic cloves, finely minced 
  • 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes 
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano leaves
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon 
  • 2 cups beef broth 
  • Salt and pepper to taste 
  • Hot sauce (optional)

Directions

  1. Place chilies in a small saucepan with 2 1/2 cups  of water. Bring to a boil, remove from heat, and steep for 30 minutes. Place softened chilies and about 1/2 cup of the steeping liquid in a food processor or blender. Purée until smooth, adding more liquid if necessary. Pass mixture through a strainer to remove seeds and any bits of skin. 

  2. Heat oil in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Add meat and brown evenly. 

  3. Add onion, Anaheim peppers, and garlic and cook until onions are translucent. 

  4. Add tomatoes, oregano, cinnamon, beef broth, and processed chilies. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 2 hours or until meat is tender. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and hot sauce. Ladle into bowls and serve with warm flour tortillas, shredded cheese, chopped onions, and chopped fresh cilantro. Guests can spoon chile and desired toppings onto tortillas or eat from their bowl. 
Boil in Bag For another great meal that you can enjoy at a later date, prepare a double or triple batch of this chile and freeze it in vacuum-sealed bags. You can reheat the chile whenever you like by simply placing the frozen bag in a large pot of boiling water. Make sure that the packages are clearly labeled and dated to eliminate the guesswork that comes with unmarked frozen foods.


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