6 dried ancho chilies
2 cups boiling water
6 ounces bacon, diced
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4 cups chopped yellow onions
5 pounds first-cut beef brisket, cut into 3-inch chunks
Salt and ground black pepper
2 jalapeño chilies, stemmed, seeded and chopped (optional)
6 garlic cloves
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
1 teaspoon ground coriander
2 tablespoons chili powder
14 ½-ounce can diced fire-roasted tomatoes with green chilies
12-ounce bottle Mexican beer, plus more if needed
1 bunch cilantro, stems and leaves separated
7-ounce can diced fire-roasted green chilies
3 cups 2-inch chunks peeled and seed butternut or banana squash
Finely chopped red onions (to garnish)
Peeled, seeded, and sliced avocado (to garnish)
Shredded Monterey Jack cheese (to garnish)
Warm corn or flour tortillas
1. Tear apart the dried ancho chilies, then discard the seeds and stems. Place the torn chilies in a small bowl. Pour the boiling water over them, then soak until soft, at least 30 minutes, or up to several hours.
2. When ready to proceed, heat the oven to 325-degrees F.
3. In a large Dutch oven over medium heat, sauté the bacon until it begins to brown. Add the onions and cook, covered, for five minutes.
4. Season the beef with salt and pepper. Remove the pot with the onions and bacon from the heat and stir in the beef.
5. Place the soaked chilies and about a half cup of the soaking liquid in a blender (save the remaining liquid to add to the pot later, if needed). Add the jalapeños (if using), garlic, cumin seeds, oregano, coriander, chili powder, and 2 teaspoons of salt. Blend to form a purée, then add to the pot along with the diced tomatoes, beer, cilantro stems and green chilies.
6. Stir well, cover, place in the oven, and bake for two hours. If the chili becomes too dry during cooking, add some of the reserved chili-soaking liquid or more beer. The meat is done when it is fork tender. If the meat is not yet fork tender, return the covered pot to the oven and check it every 20 to 30 minutes. Once the meat is tender, stir in the squash and bake for 20 minutes more, or until the squash is tender.
7. Remove the pot from the oven. Use a spoon to skim off any fat on the surface of the chili. Season with salt and pepper. Divide between serving bowls with the cilantro leaves, red onions, avocado, cheese and tortillas on the side.
From Jim Romanoff, The Associated Press, adapted from Bruce Aidells’ “The Great Meat Cookbook,” Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012