Yep, this post comes with a bonus recipe! And one so good that I’m going with a picture of happy Captain Peter mid-consumption rather than a glossy food photo. This is our favorite chili recipe, courtesy of our friend John Bennett in Chattanooga Tennessee, who heartily agrees with us that any recipe beginning and ending with bacon has got to be good. So do try the chili recipe, but if you have your own favorite, be sure to skip to the end for the bonus: World’s Fair Nachos! (And Eddy the dog maintains that, while the lack of bowl troubles him, licking chili out of a bag works just fine too.)
I made the chili at home before our week-long journey around the Delmarva peninsula last month, but it is simple enough to make aboard… if you have the MANY ingredients in your lockers. In addition to a pound of bacon, 2 pounds of stew meat, 2 medium onions, and 4 garlic cloves, you will need all of the above: a cup of barbecue sauce, a cup of chili sauce, 1/2 cup honey, a bay leaf, a tablespoon of chili powder, 4 beef bullion cubes (or equivalent beef base), a tablespoon of unsweetened baking cocoa, a tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce, a tablespoon of Dijon mustard, 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cumin, 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, 48 ounces canned whole tomatoes, and 48 ounces canned kidney beans.
Chop the bacon into 1/2 inch or so strips and sauté in a large soup kettle until crisp; remove to paper towels to drain.
Dice the stew meat to about 1/2 inch cubes.
Using 3 tablespoons of the bacon drippings (keep any extra for future culinary wonderfulness, of course), brown the stew meat until fairly evenly browned on the outside, but not cooked through.
Add the onion and garlic and cook until the onions are soft, about 5-7 minutes.
Return the bacon to the kettle and add all the remaining ingredients except the beans.
Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer until the beef is tender, about three hours. Toward the end of the cooking time, use the back of a wooden spoon to crush the whole tomatoes against the side of the pot as thoroughly as possible… and at least thoroughly enough that nobody gets a whole bite of tomato. If necessary, you can pull any obstinate pieces out of the pot and chop them on a cutting board, but if you work hard enough the spoon method accomplishes the task!
Finally, rinse and drain the kidney beans and add them, cooking to heat through about 10 more minutes.
BONUS RECIPE! This is absolutely delicious chili, but for a really fun dish, try this from the 1984 World Exposition, or World’s Fair, in New Orleans. Take a single-serving sized bag of Fritos corn chips and carefully cut the top open. Ladle in hot chili, and top with sour cream and chopped green onions. Serve in the bag with a plastic spoon for a one-handed, no-clean-up, delicious meal!
Proceed to siesta!