This recipe is a Texas-style chili, commonly referred to as a “bowl of red.” True Texas-style chili includes only meat, chile peppers, and spices. Like cajuns and their gumbo, Texans take their chili seriously and there are numerous disagreements over what is and what is not chili. The debate continues to rage over beans vs. no beans; tomatoes vs. no tomatoes, etc. and, over time, a whole chili lore has developed. Texans take their chili so seriously that chili was officially designated the state food of Texas by the State Legislature in 1977. Also, to most Texans, the fact that a genuine “bowl of red” can only be found in Texas has never been in doubt. In fact, it is generally accepted that, despite its Spanish name, chili con carne originated in San Antonio Texas. Indeed, in the 1800s when San Antonio was host to the Mexican Army, the Chili Queens of San Antonio (as they became known) made large pots of chili at home by day, and clad in brightly colored dresses, trundled their carts to San Antonio’s Military Plaza, ladling out their vendibles from cast iron pots heated over wood or charcoal fires in the evening.
Chili became so popular in Texas (and later elsewhere) that chili parlors and chili cook-offs sprang up everywhere. Legend has it that outlaw and desperado Jesse James refused to rob a bank in McKinney, Texas because that is where his favorite chili parlor was located. Beginning in 1967, as a joke with a chili-cooking duel between humorist H. Allen Smith and journalist Wick Fowler, chili cook-offs are now popular all over the country, with state-wide and International contests. The Chili Appreciation Society International (CASI) cook-off is held in Terlingua, TX and the ICS (International Chili Society) Cook-off was normally held in CA. Even US Presidents have gotten into the fray over chili
“Chili concocted outside of Texas is usually a weak, apologetic imitation of the real thing. One of the first things I do when I get home to Texas is to have a bowl of red. There is simply nothing better.”
Lyndon B. Johnson, 36th President of the United States
Try this recipe and you, too, can enter a chili cook-off with possibly the winning bowl of red. 😉