In the early eighteenth century, one year before George Washington was born; fifteen families from the Spanish Canary Islands immigrated to what is now known as the city of
in the then Spanish San Antonio . Many decades before English- speaking peoples arrived, province of Tejas had encouraged these Islenos (Islanders) to develop more Spanish presence west of Spain so as to deter further French westward expansion. Historians note that the Islenos made a spicy “Spanish” stew that is similar to chili. Louisiana
By the 1880’s, as the Texas cattle drives were winding down, Latin women in colourful attire sold a stew they called “chili con carne” made from dried red chilies and beef . These ladies were famously known as “Chili Queens” and they sold chili con carne (nowadays simply called chili), in the market centre. These Chili Queens adorned their wagons with bright lanterns and operated in
until the 1930’s. San Antonio
At the 1893 Chicago Worlds Fair, a
chili stand was on display, further popularizing Chili. San Antonio
“Chili parlors” also sprang up, even outside of
, in the early 1900’s. An Texas chili parlour advertised it’s product as “Mexican Chili”, amusing because Chili is strictly a southwest American concoction. Illinois
Serious Chili devotees insist that chili should not contain beans. And actually, original chili didn’t contain tomatoes either. Beans probably were used as a meat extender at first and then people came to like their inclusion, but Texas-style chili is beanless.
Here is an authentic old Texas-style Chili recipe. Adapted from Jane Butel.’s Southwest Cooking.
Ingredients serves 8 or more
3 lbs lean beef, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 ounces of rendered beef kidney suet (Absolutely great flavour, but you can substitute with lard or butter)
4 hot chili peppers, chopped (spicy, use less if desired)
Water to cover
1 teaspoon each of dried oregano, powdered cumin, salt and red pepper
3 tablespoons powdered Ancho chili pepper (take dry ancho peppers and grind in coffee mill)
2 cloves of chopped garlic
2 teaspoons masa harina (Mexican corn flour, not cornstarch), or cornmeal or wheat flour
- Melt the suet in a Dutch oven
- Sear the beef all over
- Add the chili peppers, stir and cover with water
- Simmer for thirty minutes
- Add the spices, ancho chili and garlic bring to boil
- Lower heat and simmer for 45 minutes
- Add the masa and simmer for another thirty minutes
- Taste for salt and seasoning and adjust as desired
You can and should refrigerate the chili and later skim off any excessive grease. The chili will taste better when served the next day.
There is an annual chili cook-off held in Terlingua, Texas. There you can find a myriad of different chilis, some made with beer, chocolate or coffee, and all manner of ingredients. A few years ago, one fellow won the cook-off but was disqualified after officials discovered he had mixed a batch of samples from a half-dozen contestants and offered it up as his own entry.
Some historians believe that chili began as trail food. Others disagree. Chuck wagon cooks might or might not have used dried
peppers as a spicing if they were available. One thing is for sure – Chili is definitely good groceries. And today there is a chili variation for everybody, even vegetarians. Chile