Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Chili! Them's Fighten' Words! Big Bad Collars.

Adding to the Book of the Bizarre that is my life are the massive marital fights we have had over CHILI in this house (I first typoed MARTIAL fights...there aren't much truer Freudian slips than that one!)

Those of you from the east may not understand it, but nothing can insult a westerner's integrity and soul faster than insulting his (MY!) chili.  Shouting "your mother" will only make us laugh, but insult a man's chili and you're talking spitting in the streets and guns out of holsters!

Some pithy folks out there might quote the saying "well if you know beans about chili, you know chili ain't got no beans."  Don't make me spit in your eye!  THAT'S TEXAS CHILI!  Like everything else, Texas has it own cuisine.  Here in the Sonoran Desert we eat Sonoran Mexican Food (although I must admit I have taken a locally very controversial turn there:  my favorite place to eat out is LuLu's Tacos and it is Guadalajaran Mexican food.  Lourdes makes the best Tortillas in the state!  But I have a feeling that has less to do with the food's region and more do with the cook!)  Don't offer me any of that yuppie malarkey that they try to disguise as "New Mexico" or worse "Santa Fe".  Black beans do NOT belong in food.  There is a farming tradition thousands of years old here.  That Pima cotton everyone loves so much:  the Pima Indians invented it.  Phoenix is named for the resurrection of the ancient Indian water canals.  With that said:  Pinto beans only please!  Refried preferred!

You are a transplant you say?  What do you know about authentic cowboy food?  Don't make me stomp on your foot after I have to spit in your eye!  I can't vouch for the food of those fish eaters over in Seattle, but Eastern Washington Ranches can put anything in Texas to it's measly shame.  Rolling hills of 9 feet of top soil that don't end.  Ever wonder where those Walla Walla Sweet Onions come from?!  And don't offer me some south easterner masquerading as an onion called a Vidalia!

My sister was once almost lynched over chili.

Back home in Spokane in the way back '90s, one of her buddies was a too proud Texan.  (When his first child was born:  he flew down to Texas, dug up some dirt and returned right back so that the first soil his son's feet would touch would be Texas Soil!)

Every year he and his wife hosted the Great Texas Chili Cook Off.  Since one of them worked for the local paper, this event had evolved to be quite large.  My sister, who hates to cook, got talked into entering.  In planning...avoiding cooking...she came up with an idea:  Milli Vanilli Chili.  It was even lyrical...unlike the infamous duo!  So she and another friend went to Wendy's, ordered a bucket, got every hot sauce and chili condiment they offered, transferred it into a pot.  There it was entered and posted for all to see and taste:  Milli Vanilli Chili.  They assumed everyone else was in on the joke too...well you know the saying about assuming too: u, me, a couple donkey bottoms...  They actually were voted People's Choice!  (Didn't Milli Vanilli win a Grammy too?  Her symbolism rang a little too true...yes, musical pun intended.)  So the time came for awards...a public confession was made...commence lynch mob.  Needless to say, they were not invited to enter again the following year.

This has been a household battle for about 15 and 1/2 out of 16 years I have been married...and for about a couple years before that!  My husband once stooped so low as to call it eastern chili!!! Like what they make in chicago!!!  (I have both cast iron frying pan and rolling pin and yes I know how to use them!)  Granted the man has not made a pot of chili in his life!

Lately, the battle is over spicy vs sweet chili.  I like sweet chili.  I am cooking it.  We eat sweet chili.  He calls my chili an abomination.  I call him an abomination.

Again, since I am a pinch of this, handfull of that cook...I will list ingredients and techniques.  I cook in bulk too...there is always a package in the freezer.

Chili powder (browned in butter...wonderfully deepens flavor)
Pinto Beans. Soaked, simmered and softened. (I do like a three bean chili:  more depth of flavor.  I will add red and kidney beans.  NEVER black or black eyed peas...they overpower other flavors!)
Chopped Onion
Cream Corn (the secret to a good sweet chili!)
Brown Sugar
Black Pepper
Hamburger, cooked
Pureed tomatoes (a lot, I used the big costco cans for my bulk batches)
Water or chicken stock or both.
(the celery in the picture was just impromptu...it needed to be eaten :-)

For the Chili Historian:  below is a copy of the battle between AZ Sen. Goldwater and Texas Sen. Tower.

For the longest time I only had John Tower's recipe (Only half the story!) but much thanks goes to Harry and Denise Broderick of Woodside Consulting, Inc. for sending us this finishing puzzle piece. Here is the EMail to me exactly as sent...

I have been using this recipe for over twenty years, and I think it was
originally published in the New York Times, . Unlike many recipes that call
for spices that are not native to the southwest or Mexico, this appears to
be the original chili of the Goldwater story.

It all started when Senator Barry Goldwater praised the chili of his native
Arizona and deplored that of Texas. "A Texan" he said "does not know chili
from the leavings in a corral" A few day later Senator Tower rose
indignantly to defend Texas chili. "Comparing Arizona chili to Texas
chili " he said " is like comparing Phyllis Diller to Sophia Loren." In a
chili cookoff that spring Senator Goldwater's recipe was chosen best by a
panel of five experts. Here it is:


1 pound course ground beef
1 pound dry pinto beans soaked overnight
1 six ounce can tomate puree
2 cups chopped onion

3 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon cumin
Salt to taste, add water to desired consistency

1. Saute beef, drain off excess fat.
2. Add beans, puree and onions.
3. Combine chili powder, cumin and salt, add water, Bring to a boil. Reduce
heat and cook slowly until onions and beans are tender, adding water as needed.
Yield: Serves 4 to 6 

This version of Barry Goldwater Chili stolen from here 

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