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Dallas County Jail Chili

Posted by BillB 
Dallas County Jail Chili
February 20, 2014 03:22PM
Here is Sheriff Smoot Schmid's Dallas County Jail Chili from the 1930s.
It was also the chili Benny Binion served in his Horseshoe Casino.
Binion and Schmid were good friends.

½ pound beef suet, ground
2 pounds coarsely ground beef
3 garlic cloves, minced
1½ tablespoons paprika
3 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon white pepper
1½ teaspoons dried sweet (mild) chile pods (or paprika)
3 cups water

Fry the suet in a heavy kettle. Add the meat, garlic, and seasonings; cover. Cook slowly for 4 hours, stirring occasionally. Add the water and continue cooking until the chili has thickened slightly, about 1 hour. Serve plain or mixed with an equal portion of cooked pink or red beans.

Yield: 6 servings
Re: Dallas County Jail Chili
February 21, 2014 03:47PM
BillB Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Here is Sheriff Smoot Schmid's Dallas County Jail
> Chili from the 1930s.
> It was also the chili Benny Binion served in his
> Horseshoe Casino.
> Binion and Schmid were good friends.
>
> ½ pound beef suet, ground
> 2 pounds coarsely ground beef
> 3 garlic cloves, minced
> 1½ tablespoons paprika
> 3 tablespoons chili powder
> 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
> 1 tablespoon salt
> 1 teaspoon white pepper
> 1½ teaspoons dried sweet (mild) chile pods (or
> paprika)
> 3 cups water
>
> Fry the suet in a heavy kettle. Add the meat,
> garlic, and seasonings; cover. Cook slowly for 4
> hours, stirring occasionally. Add the water and
> continue cooking until the chili has thickened
> slightly, about 1 hour. Serve plain or mixed with
> an equal portion of cooked pink or red beans.
>
> Yield: 6 servings

Interesting. This differs substantially from the recipe of Frank Tolbert, who considered himself the final arbiter of all things chili. He did not use dried spices except cumin, seasoning his "bowl of red" instead with ancho chile pods. He also eschewed the addition of beans either during cooking or after. I agree with him on that. I think that most Texans who do accept beans into their chili use pinto beans, never any other kind. Most industrially produced chili uses kidney beans, a bean not favored in Texas for any purpose, so far as I know.

Tolbert's recipe can be found in his book on the subject, _A Bowl of Red_. A new edition, edited by 96 year old Hallie Stilwell, who judged the inaugural chili contest at Terlingua, Texas way back in the sixties, is available, and includes other chili recipes, for such variants as _chili verde_ for example.

[www.amazon.com]

But of course, jail house chili would have different priorities than "purity," cost being an important consideration.

Dave McNeely
Re: Dallas County Jail Chili
February 21, 2014 07:05PM
Another take on Chili...

Vergne Dixon started selling chili out of a cart in the early 1900’s in downtown Kansas City, Missouri. In August, 1919 he opened Dixon's Chili at 15th and Olive in Kansas City. The small restaurant (a counter with six stools) continued with various levels of financial success and Harry Truman became a regular customer in the 1920s. The Truman connection made Dixon's Chili famous when Life magazine published a December 23, 1950 photo of Harry Truman eating in Dixon's.

The "chili" isn't what you might expect. It is lightly seasoned ground beef, with or without beans. That's it - anything else is what you add. Vinegar, Vinegar with hot peppers, and Dixon's own blend of chili powder are on the table.

Dave Lewis
Re: Dallas County Jail Chili
February 23, 2014 08:44AM
Been making my chili with tofu instead of meat for the last 10 years and unless I tell the persons dining with us, no one seems to know or care. I think you could use ground turkey talon skin and nobody could tell any difference from anything else traditionally put in chili. :-)
Re: Dallas County Jail Chili
February 23, 2014 12:48PM
Mr. Freeze Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Been making my chili with tofu instead of meat for
> the last 10 years and unless I tell the persons
> dining with us, no one seems to know or care. I
> think you could use ground turkey talon skin and
> nobody could tell any difference from anything
> else traditionally put in chili. :-)

Well, the original reason chili con carne was developed was to make tough cuts of meat palatable.

But, hmmm..... . Of course, tofu is meant to take up the flavors surrounding it, having none of its own.

But I am traditionalist enough not to want tofu chili. Of course, vegetarians are kind of different from the rest of us when it comes to the substitutions they will make for meats. I was vegetarian for a year, but when I made a trip to Brazil, I thought I should partake of the local cuisine. I did, and have not attempted vegetarianism again. I should. My reasons for eschewing meats in the beginning were environmental, and the environmental damage done by meat production still applies, and actually has gotten worse.

So far as being able to put anything in chili and it is ok: There is a canned chili branded "Wolf Brand." For decades it was a product of a Corsicana family owned business, and unlike typical canned chili, the beef in it was of reasonable dimension, not ground into granules like so much poor quality chili, canned or otherwise. Besides that, it was a tasty chili, without starchy thickeners, good enough for this Texan to eat when he didn't have time or ingredients available to make up a pot.

Several years ago, I bought a couple of cans to have on hand for lunches, and a few days later I heated one of them up, opened it (traditional way of heating canned chili, put the unopened can in boiling water and after ten minutes, remove it, open it, and eat the chili), and began to eat it. I knew right away that something was amiss. The stuff was granular rather than meaty, and it was pasty, also. I retrieved the label from the trash, and discovered that "Wolf Brand Chili" was now owned and manufactured by Conagra. Further, the ingredients list included: "beef, pork, and other meats."

I threw out the other can, and haven't bought any Wolf Brand Chili (or any canned chili) since. That was a big loss. Conagra owns "Ranch Style Beans" now, too, but hasn't made as big a mess of them. I guess the ingredients aren't as expensive. To make the matter worse, I've noticed that the cans of Wolf Brand in the store now sport a label that says, "Traditional Recipe." I checked out the ingredients list on cans so labeled, and it still included the "beef, pork, and other meats" list.

Good grief!!

Dave McNeely
Re: Dallas County Jail Chili
February 23, 2014 02:54PM
I buy the powdered chili seasoning in the cardboard box.
Box is named Ballows, and is made at a ranch between Athens and Palestine Texas.
You add your own cooked meat, etc.
This is REAL Texas chili.
Always keep a box in the pantry.
There's a word not often heard anymore.
Re: Dallas County Jail Chili
February 23, 2014 07:46PM
Dave, that was too funny re. the Wolf Brand Chili. :-) I too used to think it was pretty good for canned chili but the last I had several years ago was quite a let down.

I swore off meat about nine years ago after driving through Garden City, Kansas, it was like animal Auschwitz on the plains. Just felt like I shouldn't participate anymore.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/23/2014 07:47PM by Mr. Freeze.
Re: Dallas County Jail Chili
February 24, 2014 08:22AM
Mr. Freeze Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Dave, that was too funny re. the Wolf Brand Chili.
> :-) I too used to think it was pretty good for
> canned chili but the last I had several years ago
> was quite a let down.
>
> I swore off meat about nine years ago after
> driving through Garden City, Kansas, it was like
> animal Auschwitz on the plains. Just felt like I
> shouldn't participate anymore.

In my defense, most of the meats I buy at home come from local farmers who raise the animals the "organic" way, and have them locally processed. None of the big CAFO producers are involved. But, there is still an environmental cost involved. And I do eat meats in restaurants on occasion, and as a guest in other people's homes. Most of those meats do come from CAFO producers.

I need to get my act together, and steer away from meats. A large segment of the world's population never eats meats, and does perfectly well without them.

Dave McNeely
Re: Dallas County Jail Chili
February 24, 2014 08:28AM
To clarify, I have absolutely no problem with anyone that chooses to consume meat products, just a personal thing with me and am in no way a vegetarian crusader. :-)
Re: Dallas County Jail Chili
February 25, 2014 12:48PM
Hmmmmm, I just had a bowl of chili for lunch, and it was excellent!
Re: Dallas County Jail Chili
February 25, 2014 02:06PM
mrchuck Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Hmmmmm, I just had a bowl of chili for lunch, and
> it was excellent!


But, was it homemade, boxed, brick or canned? You left out the most critical information. :-)
Re: Dallas County Jail Chili
February 25, 2014 02:57PM
Mr. Freeze Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> To clarify, I have absolutely no problem with
> anyone that chooses to consume meat products, just
> a personal thing with me and am in no way a
> vegetarian crusader. :-)

Jerry, I hope you did (edit: NOT) take my reply as suggesting that you are pushing people to be vegetarian. I was simply stating a condition regarding myself, that given my beliefs about environmental protection, I should go back to being vegetarian. That was about me.

Dave McNeely



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/25/2014 06:29PM by old man from dallas.
Re: Dallas County Jail Chili
February 25, 2014 04:22PM
I was going to make the jail chili last weekend and couldn't find any suet.
Kroger's doesn't sell it. I'll keep looking.
I might try it with a cup of bacon grease.
Re: Dallas County Jail Chili
February 25, 2014 06:42PM
BillB Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I was going to make the jail chili last weekend
> and couldn't find any suet.
> Kroger's doesn't sell it. I'll keep looking.
> I might try it with a cup of bacon grease.

Results will not be the same at all, as the bacon grease is salty and has the "cured" flavor.

Best way to get suet is from an abatoir. Probably have to go outside the metroplex for that nowadays. Or there might be specialty butcher shops that would have it. Kroger doesn't sell it because they no longer break down carcass beef in shop, nor does any large grocer. They buy boxed meat, already broken into retail cuts. Back in the day, and up until the eighties, all grocers had a meat department with butchers working it. They received carcass beef and broke it into retail cuts. One could get suet, soup bones, custom cuts from them. If one wanted a standing rib roast, or a pair of New York or KC cut steaks to a specified thickness, they'd fix 'em up. No more, you take what is in the case or you don't.

I buy suet from a local abatoir, but I don't put it in my chili. I've learned that I like it better without, so I just use chopped beef, no added fat. I feed the suet to the birds. It is a much better bargain than the suet cakes sold for the purpose. I can get 20 pounds, which lasts my yard birds all winter, for $8. An 8 ounce cake of bird suet from the store costs $2-3. You can't feed it in summer though, it melts in the heat, and goes rancid before the birds eat it.

Dave McNeely
Re: Dallas County Jail Chili
February 25, 2014 08:19PM
My late uncle John's recipe called for "kidney suet". His chili that I remember as a kid in the 50s was great. In a human there is fat around the kidneys in Garota's space and around the ureter…must be the same in a cow. Jim
Re: Dallas County Jail Chili
February 26, 2014 07:31AM
jgoodman Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> My late uncle John's recipe called for "kidney
> suet". His chili that I remember as a kid in the
> 50s was great. In a human there is fat around the
> kidneys in Garota's space and around the
> ureter…must be the same in a cow. Jim

Suet is the fat stored in the mesenteries around the internal organs and around the kidney. Kidney suet is a preferred cooking fat, but typically butchers do not differentiate between the two any more. It is all just suet. But yes, most mammals have fat as you described, as insulation and padding for the excretory organs. You must have seen that on cats when you took Comparative Vertebrate Anatomy, also. In smaller animals, the fat pad is thinner proportionally than in large ones, so the cat has much less than either humans or cattle, especially the cats used in anatomy instruction, which are mostly street cats procurred from shelters. However, I have on occasion seen cats in class that had been castrated, and some that had been declawed, indicating that they were former pets. Occasionally one would be really fat, too, indicating that it was not a street cat when it died. Perhaps these cats were euthanized pets.

Added in edit: I find references that define suet as strictly being the fat around the kidney and sometimes that around the heart, excluding that in the abdominal mesenteries. Other references do include that in the abdomen. Most references take pains to exclude the fat in the skeletal muscles and the subcutaneous fat.

I believe that leaf lard is the equivalent fat from hogs. I recall when I was a child that when my parents slaughtered a hog, they were careful only to include fat from the abdominal cavity, the kidneys, and the heart to melt down for lard, and that except when stored cold, this lard never really solidified. Commercial lard is solid even in summer temperatures. End of edit.

Dave McNeely



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/26/2014 07:48AM by old man from dallas.
Re: Dallas County Jail Chili
February 26, 2014 01:03PM
The omentum is a redundancy of mesenteric fat…so named "the watch-dog of the abdomen" as it tends to migrate to any inflammation, or visceral perforation within the peritoneal space. This process unfortunately isn't immediate. Anyway, back to chili…. Jim



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/26/2014 01:17PM by jgoodman.
Re: Dallas County Jail Chili
February 28, 2014 08:10AM
Dave, not at all, just sometimes when the subject is brought up it takes on "political" overtones and that's just not me. :-)
Re: Dallas County Jail Chili
March 09, 2014 11:14AM
mrchuck Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I buy the powdered chili seasoning in the
> cardboard box.
> Box is named Ballows, and is made at a ranch
> between Athens and Palestine Texas.
> You add your own cooked meat, etc.
> This is REAL Texas chili.
> Always keep a box in the pantry.
> There's a word not often heard anymore.

When I am being ambitious, I make chili with dried pods of ancho peppers and cumin for seasoning. In a pinch, I use a spice mix that my mother used in her diner, Chili Mexene. Once when I was a poor student I bought a box of Kroger brand chili powder. I made up a batch of chili, and did not like it. I read the label, and discovered that the first listed ingredient was black pepper. There was no cumin listed.

Pantry? That's what my mother always called the food storage closet in the house, and what my wife and I call the one in our house. I thought it was a commonly applied term.

Dave McNeely
Re: Dallas County Jail Chili
March 13, 2014 05:26PM
Scattershots.

Its been a while since I looked at my first edition copy of Bowl of Red but I recall a recipe for chili with beans where the beans are canned refried beans off the grocer's shelf. I think Tolbert's comment was that was the only way he much cared for beans in chili. Generally I make chili without, but have added the canned or homemade refried at times.

I'll have to look for a copy of the Stilwell edited version although the recipe or the title seems out of place. Having said that, I like green chili but think of it as New Mexican rather than Texas food.

I had not looked at the label on a can of Wolf Brand Chili in several years. I think it used to say "beef hearts." The cans in my pantry at present say "beef and pork" so at least I'm not getting the troubling "other" meat. I won't throw my stock away. Wolf Brand remains the best canned chili I know about. I'd welcome the name of a brand someone thinks is better.

So far as boxed chili seasonings are concerned, I'll hunt for the product mentioned by Mr. Chuck, but Wick Fowler's has been my favorite for a long time. Don't the instructions for that product say that the meat varies depending on what is available? I'm not sure if pork is included but think bear is, or used to be.

So far as meatless chili is concerned, the best I ever had used black eye peas as prepared by Shanghai Jimmy late in his career. Based on that experience, I've wondered if skinless black eye pea mush - as used in Brazilian acaraje - could with a binder be made into bite sized dumplings that would hold together WITH OUT deep frying in dende oil. IMO that would be a better approach than tofu - if it worked.

There are dishes where suet is more essential than in chili. English puddings for example.
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