Smokin' Chili

This is some of the best chili I've ever made, and it's bound to surprise even the most experienced chili-lover. Smoker required!

3.5 lbs sirloin steaks
1 lb ground pork sausage
2 large white onions
5 dried red New Mexico chiles
4 chilpotle chiles
5 7-oz cans whole green chiles
one head (!) garlic
six medium tomatos (homegrown, if possible ;-)
one red bell pepper
1/2 tsp dried tarragon
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried oregano (1)
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp white pepper
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 15-oz cans chicken broth
1 tsp ground comino (cumin seed)
1 tsp mexican oregano (2)
steak rub
Let's get the sirloin to smokin'. Season the steaks with your favorite steak rub. I dust the steaks with Fiesta brand fajita seasoning, then marinade in lime juice and soy sauce.

While that's going on, fire up your smoker. I use a barrel smoker, making a small coal bed at one end near the intake vent, banked on either side with soaked mesquite pieces. When that's ready to go, put the steaks on to smoke at the chimney end in low heat, about 225 degrees. After one hour, turn the steaks and add more wood chips. Should take about two hours total - don't overcook.

When the steaks are done, slice them 1/2" wide across the grain (there's a little extra to snack on, go ahead :-). In large pot, melt 2 Tbs butter, and saute one chopped onion and half the head of garlic (peeled and crushed) until the onion is soft. Add the sausage and saute until brown. Add the sirloin and 1/2 can of chicken broth. Add the white and black pepper, tarragon, oregano (1), basil and thyme. Simmer covered for one hour, salting to taste.

While the first simmer is going on, let's prepare the chile sauce. Cut off the tops of the dried New Mexico chiles to remove the stems and seeds and to expose the interior, leaving them as whole as possible. Cut the tops off of the chipotles, and cut them lengthwise to extract seeds. Set all of the chiles simmering in chicken broth (just enought to cover.) When the chiles are soft (about 45 minutes), remove the New Mexicos from broth and cut them in half, length-wise. For each half, carefully scrape off the inner pulp with a flat knife. Then scrape the pulp off the knife into a blender. Add the remaining broth and chipotles, and one whole green chili, and blend into a sauce. Don't stick your face in this stuff!

Chop the remaining green chiles. Add the green chiles and chile sauce to the pot and simmer covered for another hour (that will make two hours, so far.) (Add half the sauce initially, adding more over time until you think it's right.) Add more chicken broth as needed to keep moist.

Now, after two hours of simmering, we're ready to add the rest of the ingredients...

Chop the bell pepper. Peel and chop the tomatos, garlic, and onion. Add all of this to the pot, along with the ground comino and oregano (2), and simmer covered one last hour (that makes three!). You can skim the grease off in this stage - it works better if you simmer without stirring for a while. Thicken with flour and cool water paste (about 20 minutes before done.)

Serve with ice-cold milk, grated cheese, Fritos, and Cheese-Its! :-)

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