Mole Sauce: Cacahuatl Chili

| April/May 2008

  • Illustration by Anni Betts

Art’s cacahuatl-inspired chili is a Tex-Mex chili in a rich mole sauce. To make it vegetarian, substitute about a quart of mixed vegetables, such as kidney or pinto beans, sweet potatoes or orange squash, corn, green pepper and/or carrots sautéed in olive oil for the beef.

You can adjust the amount of heat by increasing or decreasing the cayenne pepper. Most chili powders are a blend of peppers, along with spices such as cumin, but you could make your own blend. YIELDS ABOU 1 1/2 QUARTS (6 TO 8 SERVINGS)

• 2 pounds ground beef
• 1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce plus 4 cans water
• 1/3 cup chili powder
• 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
• 1 1/2 teaspoons red (cayenne) pepper
• 3 3/4 teaspoons dried onion
• 1/4 teaspoon dried garlic
• 2 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
• 1/2 teaspoon Mexican oregano
• 2 teaspoon raisins
• 1/4 teaspoon French tarragon
• 1/3 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
• 3 tablespoons dark chocolate (bits or shavings)
• 1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds
• 1/4 cup toasted slivered almonds
• 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 2 tablespoons masa harina (optional)

1. Sear the meat in a 2-quart Dutch oven or stew pot until browned, then pour off the fat. Add tomato sauce and water.

2. Grind spices, raisins, chocolate, seeds and nuts to a coarse state in a blender. Add this spice mixture and the vanilla to the pot and stir to blend.

3. Cover kettle and simmer 1 hour and 15 minutes or until meat is tender, stirring occasionally. Skim off any fat.

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