I went on a chili tirade the other day. After tasting a bowl that was more baked beans than chili, I reasoned that ‘real’ chili recipes must come from the American Southwest. Other regions don’t seem to understand that part of the beauty of chili is its simplicity.
My dad is the family chili maker. No one else dares make a pot because his is practically perfect. Digging through my maternal grandmother’s recipe box I realized that, at some point, she had asked for dad’s chili recipe. Now, my grandmother was known for brevity in her recipes – ingredients like butter and sugar were often bracketed with the single direction ‘cream’ next to them. I can’t imagine she expected the “recipe” she received.
That’s right, my dad’s chili recipe has no amounts, no directions. He, like so many skilled individuals, typically cooks by sense rather than instruction. When pressed, he’ll say something like “Oh, a pound or two of ground beef. About three cans of beans.” But it’s all ‘to taste,’ really. I knew I was getting somewhere with cooking when dad gave me a spoonful and asked if I thought it needed anything. The spices have changed, as I’ve added to his pantry over the years, but the recipe is still the same.
I wouldn’t even try to make my dad’s chili – no one will ever be able to make it like dad. So, instead, I’ve come up with my own recipe. Continue Reading »