Other Ways to Do It
You need 12 cups of filling to make the two pans. There’s room for quite a lot of variation as you build it up:
• For a vegetarian version, substitute another 2 cups of beans for the browned meat, or opt for sautéed zucchini or cubed, cooked potatoes (Yukon Gold or yams).
• For an alternative meaty version, substitute shredded roast chicken or chopped chorizo sausage.
A few chipotles in adobo, minced and added with the tomatoes, make a nice addition to the flavors in the sauce, if you know your diners are amenable to a little heat.
Makes about 12 cups
½ cup olive oil
3 large yellow onions, about 2½ pounds, finely chopped
1 medium head of garlic (about 3 ounces), minced
2 tablespoons ground cumin
3 tablespoons ancho chili powder
One 4-ounce can tomato paste
One 28-ounce can fire-roasted ground or chopped tomatoes
1 cup brewed coffee
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 1/3 cups broth (chicken or vegetable), or water
½–1 tablespoon salt
1 bunch fresh cilantro, washed and finely chopped (about 1 cup)
1. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat and sauté the onions for about 15 minutes, until they are soft and just beginning to brown.
2. Add the garlic, cumin, and chili powder, stir a time or two, and then add the tomato paste, stirring until it’s blended before adding the tomatoes, coffee, lime juice, maple syrup, and broth. Let this come to a simmer and cook for about 10 minutes, until fragrant.
3. Stir in ½ tablespoon of salt, and then the cilantro. Taste for a balance of flavors, adding as much of the remaining ½ tablespoon salt as you like.
4. Use immediately, or cool and refrigerate for up to four days. The sauce can also be frozen for up to 3 months.
Other Ways to Do It
With the addition of 1–2 pounds of browned turkey or beef and a 25-ounce can of kidney, pinto, or black beans, drained this becomes enough to sauce 6 pounds of cooked, drained elbow macaroni; spread that mixture in a baking pan, liberally sprinkle the surface with grated cheddar or Jack cheese and crumbled tortilla chips, and bake for about 20 minutes, until toasty on top, and you have brought chili-mac to life.