Interesting. When I was a kid (Anglo, in Albuquerque) my mother would make chili pretty often. No beans, as I remember, but a lot of thin, highly seasoned liquid and some ground beef. I doubt it was authentic, but I sure loved it.
Here is something I sent in an e-mail to a friend.
Hey guys, I have a true, happened to me story , about Texas chili. Got a minute or 2?
Back about 1967 when I was 10 my Uncle Lee came to town, Clovis, Ca., from Ft. Worth, to visit his mother (my Granny) and the rest of the family that was in Calif. The family had originally been in Northern Texas, DFW area, for over a hundred years. During the dust bowl and depression most of them moved to Calif. like so many other "Okies". Uncle Lee had stayed in Texas with his own family back then.
So anyways dad takes me over to Granny’s house to see her and Uncle Lee. My dad was 8th of 8 and Uncle was the first born. So there was many years difference in them. Dad was 6’2", I’m 6’5" and Uncle Lee was 6’6". he was tall, lean and mean they used to say. So we get to Granny’s and Uncle was no where to be seen. I asked Granny and she said he was in the kitchen cooking her something special.
I walk back to the kitchen and here he is stirring a big cast iron skillet. I asked him what he was making and he told me he was making chili. I looked into the skillet and then asked him "where are the beans?"
Oh boy!, wrong thing to ask!
He exclaimed, proclaimed?
(Be sure to insert the Texas drawl when you read this.) "Damn it boy! Chili ain’t got no damn beans!"
At the top of his lungs even. I think the whole house shook. About that time dad walks in and asked what was going on. As I stand there shaking… Uncle Lee asked him, Troy, what you been teaching this boy? Uncle then proceed to educate me in the finer points of Texas chili. He did go on to tell me that if you had to add beans then you best call it chili beans, and the beans could only be pinto beans.
To this day whenever I see, hear or even think about chili I can hear Uncle bellowing.
So was I ever suprised when I moved from central California, Okie central it’s been called, home to Bakersfield and Fresno to find something called chili made with, of all things, kidney beans. Yeck. Living here near Winchester Va has been an experience. A lot of good new ones and a few like this, not so good.
Me? I still make a pretty mean pot of Texas chili, w/o beans, using chuck shoulder, chili powder and when I can get them fresh chilies that I roast on the grill first. As taught to me by Uncle Lee. 🙂
My usual, and actually probably preferred chili though consist of 3 cans Texas Ranch Style Beans, 2 cans of stewed tomatoes, 2 cans of Ro-Tel tomatoes with chilies a can or 2 of tomato sauce, a can of hot enchilada sauce and 2 or so lbs of ground beef browned with lots of chopped fresh onions and garlic. Thrown all together and simmered slow for a couple hours or so. For a bowlful I then add some Cholula hot sauce to fire it up to my taste level. I really like this chili the next day when I strain off the sauce, heat up a bunch and put into fresh flour tortillias with grated cheese and roll into burritos.
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