The Gourmet Touch: When it comes to chili, to each their own
by Prudence Hilburn
Special to The Star
Jan 01, 2013 | 2269 views |  0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Having just returned from the Smokies, where the ground is covered with snow, probably accounts for my strong desire for a pot of chili. However, at our house it usually doesn’t take cold, snowy weather to put us in the mood for a bowl of “red hot.”

In looking through some of my recipes and cookbooks, I found that people vary the meats almost as often as they do the seasoning in their favorite chili. There are recipes using lamb, wild game, turkey and beef of all types. I never thought I would like chili made with deer meat until I tasted my grandson Steven’s version. It was great!

I like what Carroll Shelby from the International Chili Society said years ago: “If a guy wants to toss in an armadillo, I don’t argue — I just don’t eat with him.”

It is believed that chili attained national popularity during the Great Depression because it was cheap and filling.

According to research, the first Chili Cook-Off in Texas took place in 1967 after a midwesterner, H. Allen Smith, wrote “Nobody Knows More About Chili Than I Do.” This led to a cook-off where Smith faced off against Texas chili master Wick Fowler. Wouldn’t you know it? The contest ended in a draw.

This story is of special interest to me because in 1968 I met Wick Fowler’s brother at a cooking contest in Dallas. He was passing out samples of a chili mix they were planning to market.

When I returned home, I tried the sample mix and it was delicious. In fact, it was so good that I couldn’t wait for it to reach our market so I could try it again. The only thing to do was to try to duplicate it in my own kitchen. My version wasn’t exactly like the one given to me by Ike Fowler, but it was a good substitute until their mix became available.

The next time you are in the mood for a bowl of chili and would like something a little different, you might try Three Step Chili — my version of the Fowler chili.

If you want chili in a hurry, try my Simple Chili. It only takes 20 to 30 minutes to make.

For years, I used pork and beans in my chili but now opt for chili beans. Knowing that people differ in the degree of “hot” that they want in their chili, I have not listed a specific amount of chili powder in the Simple Chili recipe.

Three Step Chili

2 pounds ground beef (I prefer ground chuck)
1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
2 cups water
3 ½ tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon paprika
Salt to taste
2 tablespoons dry minced onions
8 to 10 bay leaves
2 tablespoons cornstarch

Brown the ground beef and drain well. Add the tomato sauce, water, chili powder, paprika, salt, minced onions and bay leaves. Simmer for 30 to 40 minutes. Skim off excess grease; remove bay leaves. Add enough water to cornstarch to make a pourable paste. Add to chili. Cook until thickened. Yield: 8 to 10 servings

Simple Chili

1 pound ground chuck
⅔ cup chopped onion
Chili powder, to taste
1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce (I like the one with roasted garlic in it)
1 ½ to 2 cups water
1 (16 ounce) can chili beans
Salt, to taste

Combine the ground chuck and onion in a heavy soup pot. Cook over medium high heat until meat is lightly browned. Add the chili powder, tomato sauce, water and chili beans. Continue cooking over medium heat for about 15 to 20 minutes, stirring often. Taste and add salt, as needed.

Email Prudence Hilburn at prudencehilburn463@att.net.
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The Gourmet Touch: When it comes to chili, to each their own by Prudence Hilburn
Special to The Star

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