Old-Fashioned Chili & Beans

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1 pound dried pinto beans or specialty beans such as Rio Zape

2 teaspoons coarse sea salt or kosher salt

2 bay leaves

2 1/2 to 3 pounds top sirloin or sirloin, cut into 1/2- to 1-inch cubes (other cuts work as well, as does venison)

1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons coarse sea salt or kosher salt

1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary

1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

1 tablespoon ground dried chiles

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

2 medium onions, diced

8 to 10 cloves garlic, minced

2 large red bell or other sweet peppers, seeded and diced

1 or 2 Anaheim chiles, seeded and diced

1 poblano chile, seeded and diced

3 to 5 jalapeno chiles, seeded and diced

3 to 5 serrano chiles, seeded and diced

1 habanero pepper, seeded and diced (optional)

3 cups canned diced tomatoes, with their juices

1 to 2 cups low-sodium beef broth

8 ounces cheddar cheese, coarsely grated, for garnish (optional)

8 green onions, minced; or 1 red onion, minced, for garnish (optional)

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