Actually, this sounds a lot like the chili I was raised on down in Springfield. Although I’ve never seen the ground beef "steam-cooked", the end result sounds similar.
The best chili houses around Springfield, including my grandfather’s hamburger joints, made chili like this:
Start with suet, and fry the hamburger in that (the ground beef itself had plenty of fat; they didn’t sell "lean ground beef" back then, at least not in Springfield).
Spices were limited to some commercial chili powder (Williams was the favorite) and LOTS of cumin. A little bit of garlic powder was often added, but one could rarely taste it.
Beans were optional, but it was always pintos if they were added.
The glaring exception to this recipe in Springfield was the chili made by Casper’s, which incidentally is the only one of the old places still open. Coincidence[?][?]
The closest thing I could use to describe Casper’s would be the chili at Steak ‘n Shake, but Casper’s is INFINITELY better.
Dateline Kansas City: I’ve lived here (an expatriate Bostonian) for more than 20 years now, and I’ve grown to love a lot of KC food (great fried chicken from Stroud’s and legendary barbeque), but something I just can’t figure out is a place called Dixon’s Chili. Here’s why: Their main dish is something called "chili" It consists of steam-cooked ground beef, seasoned sparingly with cumin. It is up to you the customer to ask for diced onions and shredded cheese. Nooooooooo there is no sauce in which this stuff is slowly simmered; it is simply steamed au naturel, again with just a smattering of cumin. If you want seasoning, you pour ketchup over it. YET, we eat it, and once in a blue moon I go there myself yet I know not why. Go figure, it’s a local institution.
Chili in name only
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