• Posted by Philip Daughtry on July 18th, 2008, 3:38 PM

    This chili recipe was bequeathed to me by an old ranch cook in Taos, New Mexico. She was over 90, lived mostly on beef, tortillas, Tums, and tequila and could still run the 100-meters backwards in twelve flat hurling obscenities at tax colellectors, wearing alligator cowboy boots. Once shared, this dish is hazardous to privacy. You will find dedicated vegans hiding in the basement devouring it barehanded and you will need an alarm system to keep neighborhood carnivores out of your kitchen.

    My hipoisie version took second place in the annual Topanga, California chili cook-off. The winner’s kids were the judges. But, when the contest was over, mine sold out in 20 minutes at five bucks a bowl and I was offered a seat in Congress if I’d reveal the recipe. I accepted the deal but lost the election to a croissant specialist from Malibu. The winner’s chili even had beans in it which, to hardcore Chilians, is sacrilegious. I was a sore loser.

    You can change the ingredients to suit, for example more chili if you like or less if you are cowardly. (Warning: do not use hot chili powder unless you just want to taste chili.) You can use filet mignon if you drive a Ferrari.

    Basically, after a few tries, you can claim it as your own, as anyone who can drive nails into snow can make this.
    I have a lot of fast friends now. Most of them are garrulous, hungry, and slightly overweight but silent as monks when they eat.

    The old lady who taught me this was cremated, her ashes were sent to all her friends and they used them instead of the liquid smoke.

    Nobody died.


    Serves 6

    You will need a good sized pot, hopefully cast iron

    3 pounds nicely marbled sirloin. (Remember, fat adds flavor. You can use steak of any kind but not stewing meat, it is much too watery. I only use grass fed or organic beef.)
    1 head garlic (Two if you are an Italian bronc rider.)
    3 tablespoons whole wheat flour
    2 1/2 tablespoons dark chili powder (not too hot)
    1 tablespoon ground cumin.
    2 teaspoons not too dry oregano leaves
    4-5 cups organic beef broth (less if its too soupy)
    2 teaspoons cocoa powder (Optional, if you like a hint of mole)
    Dash liquid smoke (Optional)
    2 teaspoons molasses (Optional)
    Sour cream or yogurt
    Lime wedges

    Turn on some music. (Sons of the Pioneers is good.)
    Oil the pot slightly.
    Chop the meat into one-inch cubes.
    Peel and chop the garlic.
    Mix the flour, chili powder, and cumin in a bowl.
    Lightly oil and heat the pot. Place the meat and garlic the pot to brown.
    Add the seasonings and stir until well coated.
    Add the oregano.
    Stir enthusiastically.
    Add half the beef broth and stir. Add more after a few minutes—you don’t want it too soupy.
    Bring to a near boil and let simmer until meat is just tender. (Around 45 minutes. Don’t let it overcook.)
    Add cocoa, molasses, and/or liquid smoke, if using, and stir well. Cook 5 more minutes.
    Let the chili cool then stand overnight in the refrigerator. Longer is OK but anything longer than a year is risky.
    When ready to serve, add more broth if it is too thick after it has been on the stove for a few minures. Reheat slowly and serve in bowls with baguettes torn by hand in the ancient pirate manner. Garnish with a dollop of sour cream or yogurt if you want to make it purty. Wedges of lime are nice, too.

    Serve it with beer—I like Newcastle brown or tequila if I am serving my buddies who just came in from riding herd on their brokerage.

    Philip Daughtry is a writer, gardener, amateur cook and professional eater who lives in Topanga, California. His most recent book of stories is The Centaur’s Son.

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