How to Make Chili

The Third edition of the unabridged American Heritage Dictionary offers this definition and etymology for “chili”:

chil-i n., pl. chil-ies.
1. The pungent fresh or dried fruit of any of several cultivated varieties of capsicum, used especially as a flavoring in cooking. Also called chili pepper.
2. Chili con carne.
[Spanish chile, chili, from Nahuatl chilli.]

Buck Gibbous’ Chili California


Some assembly required.

Things you need to make it.

  • A large pot
  • 1 or more sharp knives
  • a grater
  • a wooden spoon
  • A cutting board

Stuff you put into it.

  • 1 can of pinto beans (15 oz)
  • 1 can of black beans (15 oz.)
  • 2 to 3 pounds of sirloin steak
  • 1 large or 2 small onions
  • 6 cloves of garlic (or more if you like)
  • 6 medium fresh ripe tomatoes
  • 1 medium carrot
  • 8 medium mushrooms
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cumin seeds
  • 3 Tablespoons of chili powder
  • 1 Tablespoon of ground Pasilla chili pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon of cooking oil

What you do to make it

Peel and chop the onions; set them aside. Wash and dry the mushrooms,and slice them. Set them aside. Peel and mince the garlic; set it aside. Wrap the cumin seeds in a paper towel and pound them with a blunt instrument (a claw hammer works well) until they are crushed and the aroma of crushed cumin pervades the kitchen. Add the curry powder, the salt, the cayenne, the chili powder, and the chili, and mix it all up. Set this concoction aside. Trim the steak, cut it into small (1/4 inch) pieces and set it aside. (This recipe involves a lot of setting aside.) Wash and core the tomatoes. With the sharpest knife you’ve got, dice them into small pieces. Set them aside. Wash and grate the carrot. Set it aside. Set yourself aside for a few minutes to recover from the strain.

Heat the oil in the pot. Add the onions and brown them lightly (over a medium flame), stirring constantly. When the onions just begin to brown (about ten minutes), add the mushrooms and garlic and keep stirring. After about a minute of this, toss in the meat. Lower the flame, cover the pot, and let the mixture cook (stirring occasionally), until the meat browns. Add the diced tomatoes and the grated carrot and stir the mixture. Add the complete contents of both cans of beans to the pot. Stir it all up. Mix in the spice concoction (the color of the stuff in the pot will go from a pale pinkish to a lovely chili-colored brownish-red). Let it all cook over a medium-low flame for fifteen minutes; you should stir it every so often. Lower the heat about as low as you can so that the pot is just barely boiling and let it cook, covered, for about two hours. You should stir the pot periodically, maybe once every fifteen minutes, just so you remember that you’re cooking something.

When the smell of chili gets too strong for you, get out some bowls and serve it. Buck’s chili also tastes good over basmati rice, or with glazed buttermilk doughnuts. Honestly.

When not making chili, Buck Gibbous spends his time in the guise of Michael E. Cohen. You figure it out.

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