Recipe by Max Thames
As a kid, there was a "greasy spoon" across from my school. I remember running full tilt to get my favorite Winter lunch, a steaming paper cup of their chili with crispy saltines to crunch up on top. You could tell a good batch because the bright red "grease" would begin to soak through the cup before it was time to go back to class. I searched for years to find this recipe and finally caught up with it in a cookbook called "Texas Home Cooking" by Cheryl and Bill Jameson. It's typical of what was popular in the 1940's and is comforting and delicious to fans of chili. Follow it to the letter the first time and "adjust if you must" the next time. It's not terribly hot, just very, very spicy. Your favorite "Chili-Head" will love you for making this recipe. Also, the amount of cumin is not a mistake in case, you're wondering. It's not health food, but anything in moderation is ok. Enjoy!
- 1 lb fatty bacon
- 2 lbs ground beef, Course Grind
- 1 cup cumin seed, whole
- 1 cup ground red chili pods, preferably New Mexican
- 1⁄4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 3 -6 tablespoons cornmeal, as needed to thicken
- 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
- 1⁄2 teaspoon pepper
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon paprika (optional)
- water, as needed
Directions See How It's Made
- Fry the bacon to extract or "render" the fat.
- Make a big bacon sandwich to eat while the chili cooks (after all, good chili doesn't have bacon in it).
- Saute the ground beef in the bacon fat over medium heat, for at least 10 minutes.
- Slowly add the cumin and red chili, a tablespoon or so of each at a time, until the mixture looks and smells like chili (this is a critical point; if you add all the spices at once; there is no room for adjustment to allow for personal taste.
- Let the mixture cook awhile between additions, and don't feel that you have to add all the spices.
- Add water to avoid sticking or if you want a thinner chili.
- Add the cayenne.
- Simmer for at least 2 hours, until you have to try some early.
- Skim the grease if you absolutely have to or you can add some cornmeal to thicken the chili and make the grease "disappear".
- Finish with salt, pepper and garlic to taste and if you like, the paprika to further darken the color.
- Continue simmering til served.
- Reheat as many times as needed until gone, it get better each time.