I have finally tasted what real chili is after testing Tom Mylan’s Chili with Guajillo and Ancho Chiles and Hominy recipe, from the new December issue. This chili is a deeply flavored bowl of red, beefy goodness that I could not stop eating. There are no tomatoes and no beans—just whole dried chiles, soaked and pureed, plus ground meat, onion, garlic and cumin. Tom adds corn flavor with hominy and a bit of cornmeal to thicken, but I was loving the dish even before I added the corn elements. It has a lightness to it that makes you feel great. I think powdered chiles, tomatoes, beans and bacon are distractions (and give me indigestion).
So without these other elements, the type and combination of dried chiles used are crucial. You want a blend of rich, sweet and hot—the best trio is anchos, guajillos plus just one of the spicy New Mexicos, and all are widely available. I am lucky to grow my own. Every year, I am always amazed at how productive my potted pepper plants are. My garden was bursting with assorted peppers and chiles in late summer, and I’ve just finished putting them up. I pickle the orange and yellow ajis, roast and freeze the poblanos and pimentos, and dry the sweetly hot corno di toro rossos, good-and-hot aji Colorados and long red Koreans. I will use a combo of those to create my own blend. Now that I know there is a chili I can eat and enjoy, I will be making Tom’s recipe all winter.