Mexican Beef Stew
This dish is a basic chili con carne, but made with stew meat rather than ground chuck. It is pretty enough to entertain with, and made with top round instead of bottom, so it’s lean enough to feel good about eating. Suggested sides: Charred tortillas (or rice) and warmed cooked black beans.
- 6 dried ancho chiles, stemmed and seeded
- 2 cups beef stock
- Vegetable oil or EVOO, for drizzling
- 4 ounces good-quality thick-cut smoky bacon, chopped
- 2 pounds beef top round, cut into bite-size chunks
- Kosher salt and pepper
- 2 medium onions, finely chopped
- 4 large cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon ground coriander
- 2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 generous pinches of ground cloves
- 1 (12-ounce) bottle Mexican lager beer (I use Negra Modelo), at room temperature
- 1 (14- to 15-ounce) can fire-roasted tomatoes (whole, diced, or crushed)
- 1 tablespoon honey
- Juice of 1 lime
- Sour cream, for serving
- Fresh cilantro leaves, for serving
Preheat the oven to 275°F.
Toast the chiles in a dry saucepan over medium-high heat until fragrant but not burned. Add the stock (a little water if the stock doesn’t cover the chiles) and bring to a simmer. Cook until softened, about 10 minutes. Set aside.
In a Dutch oven, heat a drizzle of oil over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and stir until crisp. Transfer to paper towels with a slotted spoon. Pat the beef dry and season with a little salt and lots of black pepper. Add to the bacon drippings, in 2 batches if necessary to avoid crowding the pan, and brown the meat evenly. Transfer the meat to a plate. Add another drizzle of oil, if necessary, and add the onions and garlic. Cook to soften, about 5 minutes. Stir in the cumin, coriander, cocoa, cinnamon, and cloves. Deglaze the pan with the beer and cook to reduce slightly.
In a food processor, puree the chiles and soaking liquid with the tomatoes. Pour into the pot, slide the browned meat and bacon back in, and drizzle in the honey. Cover the pot and transfer to the oven to bake until the meat falls apart when pierced with a fork, about 2 1/2 hours.
Make-ahead: Cool and refrigerate.
Night of: Return the stew to room temp before reheating gently over medium heat.
Stir the lime juice into the hot stew just before serving.
Serve garnished with sour cream and cilantro.