Garry Howard's 1996 Chili Recipe and Story

Some friends of mine are having their bi-annual chili party this weekend. This is their 9th one over the past 18 years and it has grown into quite an event with a good sampling of chilis ranging from bland Cincinnati to my friend Wat's 15 Chile Pot Chili.

Last night I made a batch of Kit's Bad Attitude Chili, with my own twist of course. Since I can't even bring myself to follow directions I guess I would call mine Piss Poor Attitude Chili. As in what my Daddy, teachers, bosses, girlfriends, and ex-wives have all told me over the years: "Boy, your problem is you have a piss poor attitude!"

My modifications:

I made a double batch so all the ingredients are doubled with a few exceptions. For example, I only used one can of tomatoes. I grew up in Texas and lived there for 25 years. Now I realize that living in a place like Massachusetts, or even worse Maine, you can get away with a lot when it comes to chili. But some things, like adding tomatoes, or heaven forbid beans, to chili is still a criminal offense in Texas so you can't blame me for feeling a little paranoid. Besides, one can was all I had.

For chile, I toasted 4 ounces of ancho chiles on a cast iron griddle and then ground them up in a spice grinder. I added a combination of Chimayo medium-hot and Chimayo hot chile powder and ended up with a little over a cup of chile in all. I bought the Chimayo chile from a roadside vendor in Chimayo on my last trip to NM about 3 years ago. It has been stashed in the deep freeze but the supply is getting low.

I also added 2 tablespoons of oregano. I can't hardly bring myself to cook anything without putting some oregano in it.

After adding the 2 tablespoons of Hot Hungarian Paprika there was only about 1 tablespoon left in the tin so I threw that in too.

I didn't have any Mexican beer on hand so I used a bottle of Heineken Tarwebok wheat bock and a bottle of Sierra Nevada porter.

I used beef, bottom round roast, instead of pork.

I wasn't sure if Kit meant bittersweet chocolate or unsweetened but I used unsweetened. It had a little bit of a bitter taste after adding the chocolate so I added 1 tablespoon of sugar to take the edge off.

Everything else was pretty much the same as Kit's recipe. I simmered it on very low temperature for about four hours. I have to admit it is a pretty darned good batch of chili and it hasn't even had time to age yet. I had a bowl for lunch today and two more bowls for dinner. I hope there's still some left to take to the chili party on Saturday.

This recipe makes a pretty authentic pot of Texas red chili. It is said that it can only truly be Texas red if it walks the thin line just this side of indigestibility: Damning the mouth that eats it and defying the stomach to digest it, the ingredients are hardly willing to lie in the same pot together. This stuff comes pretty darn close.

Thanks Kit.


Kit's original for posterity:

Here is the recipe for my chili that appears in BeeR the magazine.

Bad Attitude Chili

I grew up all over the place and was introduced to hot food at a young age. My wanderings took me to Texas for a while. It was there I learned that true chili is not some form of bastardized spaghetti sauce or that abomination eaten with zeal in Cincinati.

Chili is basic food. It is, in fact, one of the four food groups along with coffee, bagels, and beer. Meat, onions, chiles. What could be simpler, right? But then why is the perfect chili recipe so ellusive? Well, I'll tell ya. It's because people get too far away from the basics and mix in influences from cultures that have no business making chili. Cultures like New York and that large flat area between Pittsburgh and Denver. There are two styles of chili; Texas and New Mexico. Bad Attitude is from Texas.

One aside. Watch the spelling. C-H-I-L-I is make with chile. C-H-I-L-E is (1) God's greatest gift to humans, (2) a country named after our favorite fruit, and (3) how mothers pronounce, " Chile! Gitchyer butt over here!"

This recipe comes from years of Friday afternoons dedicated to cards-beer-blow-off-steam sessions while at dental school in south Texas. We used venison and pork, but any vertabrate is fine. (Armadillo is not allowed in Texas as it is the Official State Critter and has been granted asylum from the chili pot.) Vegetarian chili? Is that like jumbo shrimp? Military intelligence? Legal ethics? Painless dentist?

Chili is not supposed to be blow you head off hot. I have two criteria for proper heat. (1) I should sweat under my eyes. (2) I should be able to eat the whole bowl without stopping to cool off. There is supposed to be a lot of chile flavor and no tomato flavor. This can only be had through high quality chile powder and fresh roasted peppers.

To bean or not to bean? That is the question for people that like to discuss things like the meaning of life. Or how many angels can do the Cotton Eyed Joe on the head of a pin. Or is there a limit to Deion $anders' ego. If you are going to bean, pintos and black are good. Kidney beans are a sin.

In time, this recipe has taken on life of its own. It has been know to change major weather patterns, cement faltering relationships, depose minor dictatorships, and affect the outcome of the Superbowl. Remember to use its power for good.

Bad Attitude Chili

serves 6-8

2 lbs pork roast cut into 1" pieces
2 lbs cheap ground beef- (You'll need the fat. This isn't health food.)
1/2 cup GOOD chile powder. (Your local supermarket brand tastes like cardboard.)
1 HUGE onion- roughly chopped
1 head garlic- minced
8 New Mexican green chiles- roasted, peeled, seeded, chopped.
1 Tbl hot Hungarian paprika. (This is legal. Paprika is a chile.)
1 Tbl ground cumin
4 beef boullion cubes
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes. (Dont' worry. You won't even know they are there.)
1 bottle amber Mexican beer. (Dos Equiis, Noche Buena, or any Oktoberfest will do.)
1/4 cup bourbon (This is one of those things that just happened.) 2 squares bitter baker's chocolate (Not as weird as it sounds.) salt to taste

Sautee 1/4 of the garlic and onions until translucent. Add 1/4 of the meat, chile powder and brown. Salt the meat while cooking. Put into your chili pot. Cast iron is best. Repeat until all the meat is done. Put the rest of the ingredients in you chili pot and simmer for for a hour.

As in any recipe, the amount of ingredients is variable. Add more of anything you want, especially chiles.

You now have the power. Use it wisely. The eyes of Texas are upon you!

Kit Anderson
Bath, Maine
The Maine Beer Page

Eat first ask questions later!

Garry Howard - Cambridge, MA

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