Tenderfeet Chili

In my quest to use the cookbooks we’ve accumulated, yesterday I made the Abilene Choral Society and Music Guild Chili found in the Manhattan Chili Co. Southwest American Cookbook, 1986. As the cookbook writer said, “this is gourmet chili for tenderfeet.” I love spicy food, but not too spicy. And living in rural New Hampshire does have a few draw backs. We don’t have access to the wide variety of chili peppers that many of the other recipes called for in the book. So, yesterday I made the chili and then put it in the fridge overnight to allow the flavors to meld – as they suggested. This also allows the fat to rise to the top which can be skimmed off.

The history of chili is fascinating. Like so much of our “ethnic” cooking, Americans took a cuisine (here Mexican) and made it into something totally new – TexMex. In reading up on chili, I find that chili con carne is meat flavored with hot peppers. The earliest versions that appear in print are just that. Early recipes date from the late 19th century and are mainly found in Texas. In fact chili appears to have been invented in San Antonio. Now chili cook-offs are a national pastime and everyone seems to have their favorite recipe.

Growing up, my mom’s chile was sacred. We all loved this ultimate in comfort food. Mom sent me the recipe years before she died, and I cooked up a batch proudly for Dan. Dan hated it! Yes, it was incredibly bland, but too me it was ambrosia. I must have put the recipe away very well, because now I can’t find it. Truthfully, I think Dan threw it away so he’d never have to eat it again. I have forgiven him (sort of).

Here’s the recipe I used:

  • 6 tbs. olive oil
  • 2 large yellow onions, coarsely chopped
  • 3 large celery stalks, coarsely chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves (I only used one since Dan hates garlic)
  • 3 lbs ground beef
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1/3 c. mild chili powder
  • 2 tbs. ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 tbs. dried basil
  • 1 tbs. dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne or to taste
  • 1 can (38 oz.) Italian plum tomatoes, drained and crushed
  • 4 c. beef stock
  • 1 1/2 c. hearty red wine
  • 2 large green peppers, chopped
  • 1 large red peppers, chopped
  • 2 cans (16 oz each) red kidney beans drained and rinsed

In a large skillet over medium heat warm 3 tbs. oil

Add onions, garlic, and celery and lower the heat a bit

Cook stirring once or twice until translucent, about 20 minutes

Meanwhile in a 5 quart dutch oven saute the beef with salt, stirring often until no longer pink, about 20 minutes

Scrape onion mixture into the dutch oven                          

Stir in chili, cumin, basil, oregano, and cayenne and stir for 5 minutes

Stir in tomatoes, beef stock and red wine and bring to a boil

Turn down heat to a simmer and cook uncovered for an hour, stir occasionally

In another skillet warm 3 tbs. oil over high heat

Add diced peppers and saute for five minutes until lightly browned

Set aside

Once the chili has cooked for an hour taste and adjust seasonings

Add the sauteed peppers

Kind of looks yucky doesn't it?

Continue to simmer for 30 minutes uncovered

Stir in kidney beans and simmer for 5 minutes

Chili is best if cooled and stored in fridge overnight. We had the chili tonight along with the corn muffins I made yesterday. The verdict? It’s ok. Not great, but not bad either. Will we make it again? Well, after watching Dan pour what looked like a ton of chili powder into his, I think the answer is no.       Next week’s cookbook from the bookshelf? Another one from Dan’s stash, Pizzas: Cooking with Style, 1994. And yes, another stretch for my cooking skills!



One Response to “Tenderfeet Chili”

Read below or add a comment...

  1. Bev Duell-Moore says:

    Nice to see back, Aunt Lil! This recipe looks really good! I might have to try it Could I use tomato sauce instead of tomatoes?

Leave A Comment...