If you're the type of American who believes Chile was invented in Texas, than this dish isn't what you're expecting and might prefer to call it "Meat in Red Chile Sauce". This is a more traditional Mexican recipe that uses pork, not beef and no beans or tomatoes. Just good, toasted chilis and meat simmered to perfection. This is a dish well served in a burrito or tamale or just served in a bowl with hot, fresh tortillas. Props to Rick Bayless from whom this recipe is shamlessly swiped and minimally altered.
8 medium (about 2½ ounces total) dried chiles de teierra
New Mexico or California chiles,stemmed, seeded and deveined
3 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
½ medium white onion, roughly chopped
1 tbsp. dried oregano
½ tsp. cumin seeds (or a generous ½ tsp. ground)
1½ tbsp lard or vegetable oil
1½ lbs lean, bonelss pork shoulder, cut into 1-inch cubes
½ tsp salt or to taste
Heat a comal or heavy skillet over medium heat and tear the chiles into flat pieces. Toast them on the hot surface a few at a time, pressing them down firmly with a metal spatula for a few seconds until they crackle and change color (they should turn very dark, even near black). Then flip them over and press down for a few seconds more. Remove from comal or skillet and put in a bowl, covering with boiling water - make sure to weight them down to keep them submerged, soaking for half an hour, then drain and reserve 1 cup of soaking liquid.
Transfer the chiles and reserved liquid to a blender jar, adding garlic, onion and oregeno. Pulverize the cumin seeds in a mortar or spice grinder and add to the chile mixture in the blender. Blend mixture until smooth, then strain through a medium mesh sieve or cheesecloth.
Frying the meat
Heat lard or oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Make sure the pork is dry (use a papertowel if necessary), then lay in the hot skillet in an single layer without crowding the meat - fry in batches if necessary. Fry until meat is browned, about ten minutes, turning and scraping the pan frequently.
Simmering and Finishing
Add the puréed chile mixture to the pan and continue to fry for 4-5 minutes, stirring and scraping the bottom frequently until the purée is thick and notabley darker than when you poured it into the pan.
Scrape the mixture into a medium-sized sauce pan, stirring in salt and 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil, partially cover and simmer over memdium-low heat, stirring occasionally for 45 minutes to 1 hour until the meat is very tender; if the sauce thickens beyond the consistency of heavy cream, add a little more water. Taste for salt and add if necessary.
Serve with warm tortillas - I like to add freshly chopped white onion and cilantro as a topping, with a wedge of lime on the side.