Making chili is nothing more than mounting layers of flavor and letting them all simmer together. Get in the habit of tasting recipes in stages; this way if something is not quite right, adjustments can be made on the spot.
Toast the ancho chile pieces over low heat in a dry skillet until fragrant, shaking the pan so they donâ€™t scorch. Put the chilies in a mini food processor and pulse to a powder. This homemade chile powder will add a smoky depth to the chili. Season the beef shoulder all over with salt and pepper and then put it in a large soup pot. Add enough water to cover by 1 inch, about 3 quarts, and place over medium heat. Bring to a boil and skim off any foam that rises to the surface. Mix in the onions, garlic, chipotles, and jalapeĂ±o. Stir in the chili powder, coriander, cumin, paprika, oregano, cinnamon, sugar, and the powdered ancho chilies. Pour the entire can of tomatoes with their liquid into a bowl and hand-crush until chunky; add it to the pot along with the tomato paste. Simmer until the meat is fork-tender and comes apart with no resistance, about 2 hours. As it cooks down, add more water if necessary. When done, take a wooden spoon and beat the chili vigorously so the meat comes apart in shreds.
Add the next layer of flavor by stirring in the beans and cornmeal. Season with salt and pepper and simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Cover the pot only partially so the steam doesnâ€™t get trapped under the lid and drip down into the chili, making it watery. In the last 5 minutes of cooking, stir in the grated chocolate. Garnish each serving with the shredded Cheddar cheese and Saltine crackers.
Edited: October 14th, 2009