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A little history about Chili
The full name is Chili con carne. In Spanish, the “chili” refers to a chile pepper and the “carne” means meat. American frontier settlers would make it with dried beef, suet (a fatty meat or mutton), dried chili peppers and salt. They would take this mixture and pound it together to form bricks and left to dry. When they were ready to use it, they would boil it in pots on the trail.
At the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago, the San Antonio Chili Stand would help people from other parts of the country taste and appreciate chili. Chili con carne, better known as just chili, would become the official dish of Texas in 1977.
San Antonio, a tourist destination, would play a big role in introducing chili to America. During the 1880s women who were dressed in brightly dressed Mexican outfits would come to be known as “Chili Queens”. They would appear at dusk in public gathering places in San Antonio and build charcoal or wood fires to reheat cauldrons of precooked chili and sell bowls to passersby. The aroma was a potent sales pitch with mariachi street musicians joining in to serenade the eaters. This industry would all by disappear overnight in 1937 when the San Antonio Health Department implemented new sanitary regulations. San Antonio’s “mercado” or semi-permanent stands were renovated in the 1970s and they began staging historic re-enactments of the chili queens’ heyday. The Unofficial re-enactment is “Return of the Chili Queens Festival” held in April.
Hundreds of small, family-run chili parlors or “chili joints” could be found throughout Texas and other states before World War II. As early as 1904, chili parlors were opening outside of Texas. Each would claim to have some kind of “secret recipe”. In the 1920s and 1930s chains of diner-style “chili parlors” grew up in the Midwest. As of 2005, one of these old-fashioned chili parlors still exists in downtown St. Louis.
Speaking of “Secret Recipes” I have a “Secret Recipe” for Wendy’s Chili. This is what we made today for the Superbowl. I have to tell you it is very close to the original recipe. The only thing missing it the “Frosty” afterwards!
Wendy’s Secret Recipe Chili
Makes about 12 servings
2 pounds ground beef
One 29 ounce can tomato sauce
One 29 ounce can kidney beans, drained
One 29 ounce can pinto beans, drained
1 cup diced onions
1/2 cup diced green chili – I used 2 serrano peppers
1/4 cup diced celery – about one stalk
3 medium tomatoes, chopped – I don’t like a lot of tomatoes in ours so I used 3 Roma tomatoes
2 teaspoons cumin powder
3 tablespoons chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper
2 teaspoons salt
2 cups water
(To make it hotter or spicy – add more black pepper and cayenne pepper to taste. We love it with it)
Brown the ground beef and onions and then drain off the fat. Place in a crock pot. Add the remaining ingredients and turn on. Let cook through the day, at least 2 to 3 hours. Stir throughout the day.
Serve with cheddar cheese and sour cream on top.
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