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hot hot hot a southwestern meal 
by Yee-Fan Sun | 
1 2 3 4
continued from page 1

1 (cont.) Now use a hand blender, regular blender or a food processor to zizz up the chile-water mixture until you have a smooth, thick puree. Run the sauce through a strainer to get out the skins and any remaining seeds. You'll need to press the mixture against the sieve with a spoon, squashing it all around, to get out as much of the chile paste as possible. Set the chile paste aside and throw out the skin/seed goo.

2 Combine the flour, salt and pepper in a mixing bowl, and mix it all up with a fork. Cut up the beef into 1.5" - 2" chunks, discarding any really fatty bits. Now add the beef a bit at a time to the flour mixture, rolling it all around to get it lightly coated all over. Set the floured beef aside.

3 Heat about 3 Tbsp. oil over medium-high heat in a big pot. When the oil is hot, add as much of the beef as you can fit and still have all pieces touching the pot's bottom. (You'll most likely have to work in batches.) Cook, giving the meat a stir every once in awhile, until browned all over. Remove the meat and repeat with as many subsequent batches as necessary to brown all the beef (you may find you need to add a drizzle more oil for the last batch).

4 Now add the minced onion and garlic to the pot, turning the heat down to medium-low. If there's almost no oil left in your pot, add another good drizzle. Sauté the onions and garlic for 3-4 minutes, until they begin to soften. There'll be a layer of brown crust that's formed on the bottom of the pot; this is good, as it'll add flavor and body to the finished dish. Do keep an eye on that crust though; if you're worried it's in danger of burning, lower the heat a smidge more while you cook the onion and garlic.

5 Returned the browned beef to the pot and give it a good stir. Pour in the chile paste and give the mixture another good stir. Now pour in your cup of stock, and add the oregano. The beef should just about be covered in liquid; if it isn't, add more water. Using a wooden spatula, stir everything about, gently scraping the bottom of the pan to try and loosen up some of that crust I mentioned earlier. (You won't be able to loosen it all at this point.) Bring the whole shebang to a boil over medium-high, then reduce heat to the lowest setting, partially cover, and let it simmer gently for at least three hours. You'll want to check up on things from time to time to ensure that the water hasn't all cooked off, and to stir, again scraping up the bottom of the pot each time (eventually, you should find the crust has mostly come off and been incorporated into the stew). Most likely, you'll need to add more water during the cooking process to keep things from drying out (the mixture should be more stewy than soupy, but there should definitely be some liquid present, especially for the first couple of hours). After three hours, the meat should be tender and falling apart and infused with chile goodness; the consistency should be very thick. Give it a taste; cook longer if there's still a bit too much chew in the meat or things are too liquidy. You can also add more salt if needed, and if there's not quite enough heat for you, sprinkle in some cayenne.

6 Serve with either big tortillas to make burritos or small tortillas for soft tacos. And don't forget the accompaniments -- guacamole, fresh salsa, sour cream, grated Monterey Jack or cheddar, shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes and chopped fresh chile all make excellent additions.

don't forget the side dishes

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