Vindaloo Chili

This recipe was developed for a chili cookoff. It’s fruity, spicy, hot, sour, sweet, and meaty and not your usual chili.
Originally a Portuguese dish, vindaloo was made over in the Indian region of Goa with vinegar replacing wine and the addition of Kashmir chilies. The abundant garlic stayed. That makes this version a Portugese dish made over Indian made over Texan with the substitution of beef, the addition of Mexican chilies, and beer.
The recipe starts off with a paste that is fried and added to the rest of the chili. Onions are layered three times. The pan gets deglazed with the beer after browning the meat, keeping all of that flavor in the dish.
It is better to make your own chili powder than use supermarket chili powder since commercial chili powder contains stems and seeds. It is time consuming but you can make a spice jar’s worth to use in other recipes. Just buy some dried chilies, remove the stems and seeds, toast in a skillet, and grind to a fine powder. Unfortunately whole Kashmir chilies are almost impossible to find, and you will probably have to purchase them in powder form from an Indian grocery. Kashmir chilies are fabulous with a rich color and depth of flavor, more sweet than hot.
You can either make your own fried onions or purchase a bag from the Indian grocery while you are getting the Kashmir chili powder.
Although a bit different, it is a complex and delicious dish that shows how a chili can have many different ingredients and still be a chili.

For the spice paste:
1 small onion
1 teaspoon peppercorns
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons whole cloves
3 inch piece of cinnamon stick
1/4 cup chopped garlic
1 inch piece of fresh ginger
Walnut-sized piece of tamarind pulp, without seeds
2 tablespoons coconut or white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon light brown sugar
1 1/2 ounces Kashmir chile powder
3/4 teaspoon ancho chile powder
3/4 teaspoon pasilla chile powder

2 pounds steak, trimmed of fat, cut into small cubes
4 tablespoons canola oil
1 onion, chopped
3 serrano peppers, steams and seeds removed, finely chopped
1-14.5 ounce can of diced tomatoes
1 1/4 cups water
1-14.5 ounce can of chicken stock
1 bottle mild lager, such as Modelo Especial
Coconut vinegar or white wine vinegar, to taste
Salt
A few sprigs of cilantro, chopped
Crispy fried onions

For the spice paste:
Preheat oven to 450F. Place the unpeeled onion on a rack in the middle of the oven to roast for one hour, until the onion is caramelized and the center is soft. Allow to cool. Peel off skin.
Put peppercorns, cumin, cloves, and cinnamon in a spice grinder and grind to a fine powder.
Put spice mixture, roasted onion, garlic, ginger, tamarind, vinegar, sugar, and chile powders in a food processor and blend into a smooth paste.

Preheat oven to 300F.
Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add onion and cook for 5 minutes. Add serrano peppers and cook 2 minutes more until onions are caramelized. Add tomatotes and cook until they thicken and form a paste. Add spice paste and fry gently until it has caramelized, about 5 minutes. Pour in the water and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Meanwhile heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet set over medium high heat. Dry meat with paper towels. Brown meat in batches without crowding. Transfer to Dutch oven. Deglaze pan with beer to loosen any brown bits. Bring beer to a simmer. Transfer beer to Dutch oven. Repeat oil, steak, and beer in batches.
Stir 3/4 teaspoon salt and chicken stock into mixture. Return to a simmer. Cover pot and transfer to oven. Cook for 2 hours. Let stand ten minutes uncovered, then taste for vinegar and salt.
Serve in bowls topped with cilantro and fried onions.

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