How to Make It
Roughly cut the chuck roast or steak into 2 inch cubes. In a large stew pot, heat the vegetable oil on medium heat. Brown the chuck in batches, just until the outside of the chuck chunks develops a sear. Don’t worry about cooking it through, and don’t clean out the pot between batches (though you can add a bit more oil if the chuck starts sticking to the pot between batches).
Soak the dried chiles in hot water for about 10 minutes, until they’ve plumped up. Drain, reserving a cup of the pepper pot water. De-stem, de-seed, and chop the reconstituted peppers as best you can, trying to avoid washing away the flesh inside. Be careful to not touch your eyes while handling hot peppers—use gloves if you need.
De-stem and de-seed the jalapeno peppers, and roughly chop them. Place them with the dried chiles and the minced garlic in the bowl of a blender, and pulse until a thick paste forms. If the spice paste isn’t quite coming together, add a tablespoon or so of the reserved pepper liquid to smooth it out.
In the bottom of the stew pot, which should still be crusty from cooking the beef in it, place all of the chuck along with the blended pepper paste. Add cumin and 1 tablespoon of the masa harina and stir together.
Add the beef broth and the reserved pepper liquid. The goal is to have liquid just slightly cover the beef—if there’s not quite enough, you can add more water or broth. (I make this chili gluten-free, but if that’s not a concern, you can also add beer as a supplementary liquid.)
Bring the pot to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Leave the pot simmering for about 2 hours, checking on it often until the meat breaks apart easily with a fork.
Once the meat is tender, taste the chili and see if the spice level is to your liking. If it’s not hot enough for you, apply your desired quantity of tabasco. Add the vinegar and brown sugar and the other tablespoon of masa harina, stir, and let simmer for another 10 minutes.
If the chili gravy isn’t thick enough for you, turn off the heat for a while and let the chili settle for about 1/2 an hour. The meat tends to re-absorb some of the liquid, making for a thicker chili. You can also add more masa harina, or, in a pinch, ground-up corn tortillas.
Serve in a bowl with your favorite chili accompaniments, like scallions, sour cream, shredded cheese, or limes. And you can’t go wrong with a side of cornbread. Or Fritos.