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National Chili Day 2012

Today is a great day for meat lovers nation-wide because it’s National Chili Day! Pull out your pots and pans, turn the heat up, and get to celebratin’ this fine, fine day. Whatever you do though, just don’t forget the cornbread!

Here’s a chili recipe that I think you’ll really enjoy.

Levi Goode’s Ol’ San Antone Chili

The “San Antonio Chile Stand”, in operation at the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago, helped people from other parts of the country taste and appreciate chili. San Antonio was a significant tourist destination and helped Texas-style chili con carne spread throughout the South and West.[1]

During the 1880s, brightly dressed Hispanic women known as “chili queens” began to operate around Military Plaza and other public gathering places in downtown San Antonio. They appeared at dusk, when they built charcoal or wood fires to reheat cauldrons of pre-cooked chili. They sold it by the bowl to passersby. The aroma was a potent sales pitch; mariachi street musicians joined in to serenade the eaters. Some chili queens later built semi-permanent stalls in the mercado (local Mexican market).

In September 1937, the San Antonio Health Department implemented new sanitary regulations that required the chili queens to adhere to the same standards as indoor restaurants. Unable to provide lavatory facilities, the queens and their “street chili” culture disappeared overnight. Although Mayor Maury Maverick reinstated the queens’ privileges in 1939, the city reapplied the more stringent regulations permanently in 1943 [see footnotes].


2 T Bacon drippings

2 1/2 cYellow onion-Medium dice (1/2” pieces)

1 ½ tsp Fresh ground black pepper

1 ½ tsp whole comino seeds that have been toasted and ground

2 tsp Salt

2 T Garlic minced

1 qt Beef stock (low sodium)

3 T Pure New Mexico Chile Powder (availble at HEB Central)

1 T Pure Ancho Chile Powder (availble at HEB Central)

2 T Fresh oregano chopped

½ tsp Fresh lemon juice

2 T masa harina (Ma Seca brand preferred, available in ethnic section of grocery)

2 LB. Beef-top sirloin-coarse grind or hand cut

2 LB. Lean Pork butt- coarse grind or hand cut


Render bacon in pan and reserve drippings.

Heat 2 T bacon drippings over medium high heat until pot is coated. Add your diced yellow onion and fry until the edges of the onion start to turn clear and soften, do not brown, add garlic and continue to cook for 2 minutes, until fragrant. Add pork and beef to the pot along with black pepper, salt and cominocook until meat is browned. Mix in pure chili powders. Add beef stock and bring up to a simmer. Continue to simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Skim off any excess grease with ladle. Adjust salt to taste, add fresh lemon juice and fresh oregano and continue simmering for 10 more minutes.

Folks, you now have a great pot of “Goode” Texas Chili!

Robb Walsh. The Tex-Mex Cookbook: A History in Recipes and Photos. New York: Broadway Books, 2004. [A very knowledgeable and very well-written “food history”, including a long chapter on “real” chili, chili joints, and the San Antonio chili queens.]

Frank X. Tolbert. A Bowl of Red: A Natural History of Chili con Carne. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1966. [Much of the material in this book originally appeared in the author’s newspaper columns in The Dallas Morning News beginning in the early 1950s.]


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