1. The KillerFrogs

ChiliFrogs Unite!

Discussion in 'Tailgating/BBQ' started by FrogAbroad, Aug 10, 2020.

  1. #1 FrogAbroad, Aug 10, 2020
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2020
    Welp, it looks like the 2020 college football season may be scrapped by this weekend. If so that will free me up for some extra hours in my new kitchen fussing over a batch or two of real, honest-to-Pete Texas chili. (Yes, "Texas chili" IS sort of a redundant term, since genuine "chile con carne" is, after all, a Texas creation.) But I digress...

    When Lon Evans was sherriff and ran the county lock-up cold winter nights would see some souls trying to get arrested just to have a bowl of Lon's jailhouse chili. Years ago I came across the recipe, adjusted for smaller kitchens and fewer servings, and as an act of Christian kindness I share it here:

    Lon Evans' Jailhouse Chili
    • 1/8 pound beef suet, finely chopped
    • 3 pounds beef chuck, cut into ½-inch cubes (only barbarians and damyankees use ground beef)
    • 1.5 quarts boiling water
    • 6 tbs chili powder
    • 1 tbs ground oregano
    • 1 tbs cumin
    • 1 tbs salt
    • 1/2 tbs red pepper (if you have ground chipotle, use it...you'll be glad you did!)
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1/2 cup white cornmeal
    The recipe I received had no instructions, but since I've been making chili since I was 10 or 12 years old that part came easy to me. However, if you're uneasy about not having instructions here's how I put this recipe together:
    1. Render the suet in a heavy, large pot, stirring pert'near constantly; cast iron is best but "heavy" is critical. Don't let the suet brown, just melt it down good. If you want to leave it in the chili, fine--it'll be richer that way but will likely provoke a few more post-meal "burps." Otherwise remove the cooked-down suet and add it to your dog's ration--he'll be grateful, I guarantee.
    2. Add the cubed chuck, stirring and cooking it over medium heat until it turns gray. Not brown, gray.
    3. Add the boiling water, cover the pot and turn the heat down to low. (Here's when cast iron is your go-to pot: it has a heavy lid and will maintain an even heat over a small flame.) Simmer slowly for, oh, a couple of hours.
    4. In a separate mixing bowl, combine all the other ingredients except the corn meal. Then, when the meat is to-your-liking tender, add the dry ingredients. Stir well, cover and simmer another 20-30 minutes. Be careful of the timing--over-cooking will kill the spices.
    5. Finally, combine the cornmeal with a little cold water, then thin it out with a few tablespoons of the hot cooking liquid. Stir the mixture into the chili pot, being careful to keep the flame low and stir often to avoid sticking. Cook another 10-15 minutes to be sure the meal loses its "raw" flavor.
    6. If you want beans I recommend well-cooked pintos, well-drained and spooned into the chili bowl before chili is added.
    Now, for the record, this is not my personal recipe. THAT recipe is very similar, of course, but is stored in a Swiss bank's safe deposit box until 70 years after my death.
    Frog-in-law1995 likes this.
  2. There are lots of really good chili recipes out there. My only suggestion is pay a little more for fresh spices. If your in Fort Worth go to Pendery’s on 8th Ave. Great selection of spices. They even have a whole rack of preblended chili spices based on various recipes. Along with every kind of spice and blend you can imagine.

    They have been marketing spices in Fort Worth since 1870.
  3. Fresh spices make a BIG difference, Dogfrog, no question.
    Frog-in-law1995 likes this.
  4. Thanks for this. Great recipe.
  5. They are my go-to for spices. To open my spice cabinet is to waft a zillion fabulous aromas...

    I have worked the King Hell Red recipe for many years, won (or placed) a couple of contests with it. Nothing really different, save that I render a bunch of bacon, cook the onions and garlic in it until they are browned and sweet, and brown the beef separately. I settled on using the Mole Trinity as my chili powders, with some Chilie de Arbol and some Chipotles in Adobo Sauce* as my heating elements. HEB brand "Diced tomatoes with Chipotle peppers" are darned handy as well. Beef stock and beer** are my thinning agents. Many hours of simmering and replacement of lost fluids will result in a rich, complex and absolutely wonderful chili.

    Like FrogAbroad says, a good, thick iron vessel is the way to go. Thin-skinned pans will scorch your chili, and this leads to bitterness and bad flavors. Use the right tools for the job, and they'll serve you well.

    I like a chili that is thick enough to be semi-chewy.

    *Those little cans of Chipotles go on a lot of things in the Brewingfrog household.

    **Always use Mexican style beer, as they don't use a lot of hops. Using a "craft" IPA or something like that often gives you extremely bitter flavors, because they dry-hop the beers. Dry-hopping allows the delicate hop oils to dissolve in the alcohol of an already fermented beer. These fancy, delicate hop oils will turn bitter as all hell if you heat them up.
    Frog-in-law1995 and Dogfrog like this.
  6. We are local but curious if you order online and if you would recommend it for out of town folks?
  7. Have you ever tried simmering the beef in a crock-pot? I've done that by transferring the seared beef into the crockpot, then adding the boiling water, and leaving it overnight. Spices are added the next morning, thickening agent maybe 30-45 minutes before serving time. Works for me, and the chili thickens up nicely.

    Regarding thick chili, that's my preference as well. Have you ever used corn flour (harina de maiz)? It works nicely and is very smooth, you just have to be careful about lumping when it's added to the hot mixture. Once I was in a major bind, didn't want to use ordinary wheat flour, so I tossed in some instant mashed potato flakes. It wasn't perfect, but it worked in a pinch.

    I once was rather legalistic about including tomatoes and onions in my chili recipe. While I no longer advocate stoning those who do, I avoid those two ingredients, myself. It's a personal taste issue, no longer a moral imperative caused by those who make "spaghetti sauce" and call it "chili." You know what I'm talkin' about. For me, onions are an optional at-the-table garnish: white onions, peeled and sliced, soaked in iced water for an hour, then drained and chopped.
    BrewingFrog likes this.
  8. I order from them online regularly. Just last month I got in a box full of chili powders for my Cousin, who loves fishing, and had never had the wonderfulness that is Ancho-crusted Snapper. After one serving, he gave me a look and said, "Get me a bunch of that stuff!"

    So far, I have never had an issue with an order from them. I get what I ask for, and it arrives all packed up nicely in a box. They pack the spices in tough, ziplock bags that are sealed and filled with nitrogen to keep the spices fresh. I get all sorts of stuff from them, from Grains of Paradise to luscious vanilla beans.
    Frog-in-law1995 and Dogfrog like this.
  9. Heh. The tomatoes are actually part of the chemistry of good chili. The acids in tomatoes do a great job of keeping things tender while the meat breaks down and gets more delicious. I happen to like the bite they provide as well. However, I don't like to add tomato paste, as that really gives that "Spaghetti Sauce" flavor. Way too much sugar...

    I did a long, slow roast of a haunch of goat for one batch of chili. There's no other way to break it down otherwise. Game meats are lean and often tough. Venison is generally ground up, so there's no issue with breaking down connective tissues. I have never put goat in the slow cooker, though. Sous vide would probably work, too. But, with those options, you miss all the sitting around the smoker, drinking beer and fiddling with the fire time. That's half the fun!

    Sometimes I use a masa paste, sometimes I don't. For all the competitions, I have used it. Around the house, I often get lazy and forget. I put some warm water and masa in a measuring cup and stir it in, then let it sit for a while. No lumps that way, and it will thicken things up just enough. It adds just the wee tiniest bit of flavor, too.

    Onions, for me at least, serve several purposes in a chili. Depth of flavor, sweetness to offset the chili spice, and texture to the finished product. They also keep the rich piggy fat all bound into the chili. The garlic? Well, if you don't use at least a whole bulb, you ain't cookin!

    Never used potato flakes, but I saw a guy using potato chips once. Worked just fine. Starch is starch, I guess...

    I use sweet yellow onions in the dish, and, like you, lay out the white onions for garnish. The heat of the onion is a great counterpoint to the spice of the chili. I also like to garnish with some cotija cheese, and I lay out lime slices from time to time. The sharp acidity wakes up a lot of the chili flavors and cuts the fat.

    Growing as a little pup down in Brownsville, it just wasn't a proper plate of enchiladas unless there was a bunch of cubed white onions tossed on top right before they brought it out. That was good, sincere food.
  10. Hmmm...wondering if Mi Tierra is still in the RGV...
  11. I'll find out...

    Now I have a powerful hankering for a plate of good enchiladas.
    Salfrog and FrogAbroad like this.
  12. Great thread. Chili is one of those things I’ve never really tried to master. We use Frank Tolbert’s recipe at home, but add one packet of instant hot chocolate. Gonna try these others out, too, once the weather changes.
    FrogAbroad likes this.
  13. My personal recipe includes one tablespoon of Hershey's cocoa per three pounds of meat.
    Frog-in-law1995 likes this.
  14. #15 Dogfrog, Aug 17, 2020
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2020
    We knew Frank. Great guy. Back in the 80’s when we lived in Dallas, Frank bought International Scouts from my FIL until they stopped production, so we got invites to Frank’s Chili Society meetings (beer busts) at his little store front restaurant downtown Dallas. Way before his family opened the nicer one in West end.
    Frog-in-law1995 and FrogAbroad like this.
  15. Paging Jugband... Jugband to the Enchilada Courtesy Phone...

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