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Why Chili is So Important

I was a bit surprised to realize that in the 3 years I have been writing here, I have never written about Chili. Then I thought “Well, that’s not a huge surprise, considering that Chili has absolutely nothing to do with Marketing”. If you are not into cooking or chili, this would be a good time to check out some other blog post or watch this hilarious video.

C.C. Chapman posted his 7 can chili recipe and I checked it out. It’s pretty far over on the 1970’s Mom scale, it reminds me of the shtick in “Undercover Brother” where everyone in the family has their own jar of mayo. Of course this is the trade off for complete convenience, it doesn’t get much easier than that recipe. Fortunately C.C. completely redeems himself with his 7th step – tweaking the mix with BBQ sauce, Beer and Tequila (actually in the chili, not doing shooters). Tweaking a chili recipe with liquor or other bizarre ingredients is a key attribute of chili aficionados. Pick up your latest issue of Chili Aficionado for more info.

And so you may be asking, “John, who gave you a chili pro sombrero and the right to critique anyone, let alone C.C. Chapman?”, or maybe you weren’t, but you sure are now. My Dad was on the Ski Patrol at the local ski area and every year for probably 15 years or so we would have a chili cookoff at our house to celebrate the end of the ski season.

While the adults all thought most of the chilis were great because they were so damn drunk, I was too young to enjoy a Natty Lite to wash it down so I actually tasted most of them. There were three key lessons I took away from those years:

  1. It needs to be beefy. Exotic meats such as venison or buffalo are fine but if there’s no meat, it’s not for real.
  2. Lots of chili that comes in a can like Dinty Moore (often used on hot dogs to create a “Coney Island”) actually taste fantastic but do all kinds of damage to your system that will remain unspoken.
  3. Never have your dog around at a chili party because everyone will feed them little bits and nothing empties out a room faster than a gallon of dog puke filled with chili.

Years later I came upon two other important observations:

  1. I used to think that it gave me indigestion until I went on a high protein diet and found out it was the bread/pasta/rice that it was served with that gives you the heartburn.
  2. Tarantula Jack’s Chili Stand in downtown Seattle (long closed) had the greatest Chili on earth.

Jack’s won some kind of Million Dollar cookoff (ok, it was “only” $25,000) with the recipe and it’s been published, but I think he held something back. I’ve made it many times and it was great but just not as good as what he served at the store.

And so, to answer the question – Chili is important because it tastes so damn good here in the land of ice an snow. As my gift to you – Tarantula Jack’s Chili recipe:

This recipe is still up at the International Chili Society website where I first got it years ago, reprinted for you here (but go to the site for other killer recipes).

Tarantula Jacks Thundering Herd Buffalo Tail Chili

Ingredients:
3 lbs cubed beef
2 medium Walla Walla Sweet Onions (chopped fine)
3 large cloves garlic (finely minced)
2 10-oz cans of chicken broth
2 12-oz cans Hunts Tomato Sauce
7 tablespoons Gebhardt Chili Powder
2 tablespoons ground cumin
ΒΌ teaspoon Tabasco Pepper Sauce
Instructions:
Saute beef in skillet. Put beef into your favorite chili pot and simmer with onions and garlic broth for one and a half hours. Keep your hands off and leave the lid on!

Add the Hunts Tomato Sauce, Gebhardt Chili Powder and the ground cumin. Stir.

Fifteen minutes before eatin time, take off the lid and enjoy the aroma of the greatest chili ever to slide into a melmac bowl! Add the Tabasco. Put the lid back on and simmer for another 15 minutes. Add salt to taste.

Its now ready top serve. Give out the Pepto Bismol samples to all small children and women who wish to eat your chili. Give your empty chili pot to the chili groupies and suggest they use new Dawn Detergent to clean it up. (Its the Official Grease Cutter of the International Chili Society) Comb your hair, straighten your hat and practice being modest before you receive applause OR the Championship Trophy if you are competing in a sanctioned ICS Cookoff. Serve with a cold Budweiser. This will serve 6-8 hungry Varmints.