Saturday, July 23, 2011

Walter McIlhenny's Chili

      Not only was Walter McIlhenny a distinguished Veteran of WWII, retired brigadier general and co-founder of the Marine Military Academy in Harlington, Texas, he was also a gourmet cook.  He served as president of the McIlhenny company, which makes the world famous Tabasco sauce, from 1946-1985.  He used to serve this chili to his Marine buddies at his home on Avery Island, Louisiana.  The heat from this melt in your mouth chili sneaks up on you, the chili powder, cumin and Tabasco give it just the right balance, not too overpowering but enough to make you warm all over.  Brown the beef in batches, you don't want to overcrowd your dutch oven and steam the meat.  Remove the beef, then saute the onions and garlic with the spices long enough to allow them to release their oils and flavor.  Add the water, chilies and beef, put the lid on and let your dutch oven work it's magic.  I cooked this for 2 1/2 hours or until most of the liquid had reduced and the meat was falling apart tender.  After browning the meat and onions over a full compliment of coals I moved them to a ring of 12 around the base of my 12 inch oven and covered the lid with 18-20 coals or enough to keep it at a steady simmer.  After the first hour I completely changed out the coals with new ones and let it continue cooking for another 1 1/2 hours.  The original recipe calls for 2 teaspoons of salt but you may want to cut back on the amount if you like it less salty.  This is a terrific chili recipe, meaty, spicy and full of history.  Everybody loved it and there was not a drop left in my dutch oven.  Next time you're in the mood for a slow cooked, flavorful, warming stew, give this one a try, it's five stars all the way.

Walter McIlhenny's Chili
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3 pounds lean beef chuck, well trimmed and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 cup chopped onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons salt or to taste
2 teaspoons Original TABASCO brand Pepper Sauce
3 cups water
1 (4-ounce) can chopped green chilies, drained
Hot cooked rice
Shredded cheese, chopped onion and sour cream (optional)

     Heat oil over a full spread of coals in a 12 inch dutch oven.  Add beef 1/3 at a time and cook until browned on all sides; remove from pan and set aside.
     Add onion and garlic to dutch oven and cook 5 minutes or until tender, stirring frequently.  Stir in chili powder, cumin, salt and Tabasco Sauce; cook 1 minute. 
     Add water, chilies and browned meat and bring to a simmer.  Cover and simmer for 2 to 2 1/2 hours or until beef is tender.
     Serve over rice and top with cheese, onion and sour cream, if desired.  Serves 4-6.

Brown beef in batches then saute onion, garlic and spices

Add beef, water and chilies

After 2 1/2 hours, beef is tender and liquid has reduced

A classic chili brimming with flavor


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