Nothing says party like a bowl of Cowboy Chili - Chunky Style. It's easy to make ahead for a crowd, but also makes a cozy solo bowl on a lap tray in front of your favorite movie. There are so many people, cities and states that claim to make the "Best Chili." For a brief time, a few years ago, I lived in Texas. I can tell you, Texas pride is alive and well. In fact, Texas is the only state that petitioned to have Chili be the state food, and won. There is a Terlingua song that includes the lyrics: If you know beans about chili, you know that chili has no beans. In Texas it's often called "A Bowl of Red".
However, I grew up in North Carolina where the best chili I ever had included many types of beans and three kinds of meat. Even the cut of the meat varied from city to city.Another style, called Cincinnati Chili, is mixed with warm spices including cloves and cocoa. It's often served over spaghetti or as a hotdog topping. When patrons order they say one of these:
Bowl: chili in a bowl
Two-way: Chili and spaghetti
Three-way: chili, spaghetti and cheese
Four-way: chili, spaghetti, cheese and onions
Five-way: chili, spaghetti, cheese, onions, and beans
The origins of chili have just as many varied claims, but most credit the cowboys and pioneers of Texas. As the case for a lot of stews, it probably began as a poor man's way of making the most of the meats, spices, herbs and dried products available. The chili recipe I've been making for years is a combination of my favorite bowls of chili across the United States and a recipe from a paperback book called "Cookery for Entertaining" by Marlene Sorosky.
I was given that book in North Carolina when I was in college and by the time I was married and had my first baby girl I had made almost every recipe in the book. The other day I saw it was selling on Amazon for $200.00. My copy is in pieces, held together with tape, and some recipes only legible to me and my memory. I've tweaked it a bit to fit my taste and to add some of the warm spices I love, including a little beer sometimes to keep it interesting.I hope you'll try it, and I know you'll love it. This is one of my most requested party foods. I highly recommend a nice slab of skillet corn bread to sop up the bottom of the bowl.
[Today's chili is one of the recipes included in our Let's Lunch bunch (a group of bloggers all over the world having a virtual lunch together.) So, you are in luck -- click on these other sites to see a whole world of Chili recipes and ideas, too. The recipe for my Cowboy Chili-Chunky Style can be found at the bottom of the page~]
Let's Lunch on Chili:
RECIPE: Cowboy Chili - Chunky Style
(makes about 8 servings)
3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 Onion, chopped
3 Garlic cloves, minced
2 lbs. Stew Beef, bite-size cubes
2 lbs. Sausage meat
1 can (28oz) Whole Tomatoes
1 can (6oz) Tomato paste
3 Tablespoons Chipotle Chili powder
2 Teaspoons Cumin
2 Teaspoons Dried Thyme
1 Tablespoon Cocoa Powder
1 Teaspoon Kosher Salt
1 Tablespoon Sugar
*optional* 4 oz. Dark Beer or Ale
1 can (15oz) Organic Baked Beans
1 can (15oz) Kidney Beans
1 can (15oz) Pinto Beans
1) In a deep pot, heat the oil on Medium. Add the onions and garlic, cooking just until soft.
2) Add the beef and sausage and cook until all pink is gone. Stir and break up sausage to cook evenly.
3) Pour the whole tomatoes into a bowl and hand crush them, then add them to the meat in the pot, along with tomato paste, chipotle powder, cumin, thyme, cocoa, salt, sugar, baked beans and beer (if using.)
4) Stir, cover the pot, and simmer on low for about 2 hours. Stir occasionally and add a little water if needed.
5) Stir in the kidney beans and pinto beans and continue to cook for about another 30 minutes. The beef should be very tender.
This tastes even better the next day after the flavors have combined in the refrigerator. This also freezes really well and can be reheated til bubbly hot on the stove, or in the oven at 350F.