“Wish I had time for just one more bowl of chili.” ~ Last words of Kit Carson, American frontiersman (1809-1868)
I had a post written to go with my chili recipe, but after looking up chili I just decided to share some interesting facts with you about this American phenomenon.
From the International Chili Society comes the following:
Concerning the origins of chili ~ “… a grisly tale of enraged Aztecs, who cut up invading Spanish conquistadors, seasoned chunks of them with a passel of chile peppers, and ate them.
… Never has there been anything mild about chili.”
On the popularization of chili:
There is little doubt that cattle drivers and trail hands did more to popularize the dish throughout the Southwest than anybody else, and there is a tale that we heard one frosty night in a Texican bar in Marfa, Texas, about a range cook who made chili along all the great cattle trails of Texas. He collected wild oregano, chile peppers, wild garlic, and onions and mixed it all with the fresh-killed beef or buffalo – or jackrabbit, armadillo, rattlesnake, or whatever he had at hand – and the cowhands ate it like ambrosia. And to make sure he had an ample supply of native spices wherever he went, he planted gardens along the paths of the cattle drives – mostly in patches of mesquite – to protect them from the hooves of the marauding cattle. The next time the drive went by there, he found his garden and harvested the crop, hanging the peppers and onions and oregano to dry on the side of the chuck wagon. The cook blazed a trail across Texas with tiny, spicy gardens.
And this, perhaps the first chili recipe?
CHILI CON CARNE
Cut up as much meat as you think you will need (any kind will do, but beef is probably best) in pieces about the size of a pecan. Put it in a pot, along with some suet (enough so as the meat won’t stick to the sides of the pot), and cook it with about the same amount of wild onions, garlic, oregano, and chiles as you have got meat. Put in some salt. Stir it from time to time and cook it until the meat is as tender as you think it’s going to get.
And perhaps my favorite. Talking chili with a bunch of cattle hands, this reporter hears about this heartfelt prayer:
By the time we had finished writing down the recipe, the number of Tex-Mex patrons in the tiny bar had grown considerably, and each had his own version of cattle drive chili stories – each one becoming more embellished as the cerveza flowed. Then one hauled out a yellowed clipping from his wallet. He didn’t remember what newspaper it had come from, or even when. He just knew he had had it a long time. It was a prayer – something an old black range cook had prayed once. His name, euphonically, was Bones Hook, and the prayer went:
Lord, God, you know us old cowhands is forgetful. Sometimes, I can’t even recollect what happened yesterday. We is forgetful. We just know daylight from dark, summer, fall, winter, and spring. But I sure hope we don’t never forget to thank you before we eat a mess of good chili.
We don’t know why, in your wisdom, you been so doggone good to us. The heathen Chinese don’t have no chili, never. The Frenchmen is left out. The Russians don’t know no more about chili than a hog knows about a sidesaddle. Even the Mexicans don’t get a good whiff of chili unless they live around here.
Chili-eaters is some of your chosen people, Lord. We don’t know why you’re so doggone good to us. But, Lord God, don’t never think we ain’t grateful for this chili we are about to eat. Amen.
If that doesn’t get you wanting a big bowl of chili, I don’t know what will. This is my family’s recipe and it’s pretty darn good.
(This post could have been 3 times as long if I entered into the debate about where the best chili can be found or whether you can put beans into a chili. My oh my! That will have to wait for another day!)
1 1/2 lbs. ground beef
1 large onion
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 tbsp chili powder (I use 1 tsp Chimayo chile powder and 2 tsp medium hot New Mexican chili powder)
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp tabasco
1 can 28oz whole tomatoes, undrained
2 cups pinto or red beans (use cooking liquid to make the desired consistency), or 1 can 15oz of beans, undrained
Brown ground beef with onion and garlic in a 3 quart sauce pan.
Drain the grease and stir in remaining ingredients EXCEPT the beans.
Break up the tomatoes with a spoon, heat to boiling, then reduce the heat and simmer covered for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
Stir in beans and simmer for 20 more minutes.
We ate this chili with my homemade Easy Pita Chips and it was soooo good.
- 1½ lbs. ground beef
- 1 large onion
- 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
- 1 tbsp chili powder (I use 1 tsp Chimayo chile powder and 2 tsp medium hot New Mexican chili powder)
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp tabasco
- 1 can 28oz whole tomatoes, undrained
- 2 cups pinto or red beans (use cooking liquid to make the desired consistency), or 1 can 15oz of beans, undrained
- Brown ground beef with onion and garlic in a 3 quart sauce pan.
- Drain the grease and stir in remaining ingredients EXCEPT the beans.
- Break up the tomatoes with a spoon, heat to boiling, then reduce the heat and simmer covered for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
- Stir in beans and simmer for 20 more minutes.