Lamb chili

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I normally make Texas red chili with beef, but decided I wanted a change.

1. Chili paste:

– Selection of dried Mexican chiles. I used 30% anchos, 30% guajillos, 15% pasillas, 15% cascabel and 10% chiles de arbol
– Water

Dry-roast the chiles in the microwave in 15-second bursts until dry and fragrant, about 30 seconds for each batch of chiles. Remove seeds and pith, place into a saucepan, add water to cover, and bring to boil. Simmer until soft, about 10 minutes. Allow to cool, place in blender, and blend / pulse until smooth.

Chili paste will keep in refrigerator for several weeks, or in the freezer for up to a year.

2. Chili:

1 1/2 lbs lamb stew meat (shoulder or leg), cut into 3/4-inch cubes
Salt
Grapeseed or other neutral oil
1/2 large white onion, finely chopped
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 sweet Italian sausages, removed from casing and crumbled
1 fresh hot red cherry pepper, finely chopped
1 bottle of pilsner
4 tbs chili paste (recipe above)
1 dried chile de arbol, roasted as above and finely ground
1 tbs ground cumin
freshly ground black pepper
3 tbs tomato paste

Preheat oven to 310 degrees F.

Dry the lamb thoroughly with paper towels and salt it. Prepare the chopped vegetables.

Put one tablespoon oil in a cast-iron skillet. Soften the onion over medium heat, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and continue to saute for 2 minutes. Remove to a bowl and wipe pan clean.

Add another tablespoon oil and raise heat to high. When about to smoke, add the crumbled sausage meat. Brown thoroughly, mashing with a slotted spoon. Scrape it off and brown the other side, which will go faster. Lift it out with the slotted spoon and add it to the bowl with the onions and garlic.

Add another tablespoon oil (or less if there is enough rendered fat from the sausage), and when it is close to smoking, start browning the lamb in batches. The meat must has plenty of room to brown. Allow a deep brown crust to form before turning, about 3-4 minutes. Second side will go faster. Don’t worry about browning the meat all over – a little pink showing is good. You will probably have to add a little more oil before each batch. You will probably have 6 batches of lamb. Remove each batch to the onion bowl with a slotted spoon before adding the next one. There should be plenty of sausage and lamb stuck to the bottom of the pan by the end of this process.

Add the chopped hot cherry pepper and saute, stirring constantly, until fragrant and soft – 1-2 minutes.

Add about half the beer and bring to a boil, scraping and stirring the stuck pieces with a wooden paddle or your spoon. Reduce and pour into the bowl of other ingredients. Repeat (you might not end up using the entire beer).

Put the contents of the bowl into a dutch oven and add the chili paste, the chile de arbol, the ground cumin, a generous grind of black pepper, and the tomato paste. Add water to cover and mix thoroughly. Bring to a boil over high heat, and as soon as it is boiling, place it in the preheated oven with the lid on halfway.

Cook for 1 hour, checking periodically that it is simmering but not boiling. Adjust temperature if necessary.

Taste, adjusting for salt. Cook for another 20 minutes. If meat is not tender, cook for longer.