Friday, February 04, 2005

Texas Chili

Yes, I've judged chili. I'm a certified Texas chili judge. That and a buck will get me a cup of coffee, except at Starbucks where it will cost me $1.73.

The aroma permeating my house is an award winning chili in the embryonic stage. Just a little green. Needs time to ripen.

Tincture of time.

Flashback many years ago. I was finishing up a physical with my local sawbones and I said that Helen was down with the flu. Fever, achy bones, tender skin. Miserable by all accounts. Got any words of wisdom, I asked?

Tincture of time, he said, an old Indian cure, meaning "just wait it out, kid, it will run it's course."

I heard "tincture of thyme" an old Indian infusion of herbs that would relieve the symptoms of flu. Off I went to the local drug store to ease my wife's flu misery. Tincture of Thyme, hmmm, never heard of that. Oh, well.

At the drug store I scanned the shelves for Tincture of Thyme. I found Tincture of Iodine and Mint, poultices and oils but no Tincture of Thyme.

Finally, I decided to ask the pharmacist. Yep, swallow the pride, can't find the Tincture, ask, goddammit, ask!

"Ahem. Er, where can I find Tincture of Thyme?"

The pharmacist stared at me like I was some kind of bug. "What are you looking for?"

"Er, well, my wife has the flu and my doctor said that Tincture of Thyme would help. Do you sell it?"

The pharmacist turned around and appeared to have a fit of some kind, it almost sounded like uncontrolled laughing. Turning around and wiping the tears from his eyes he said, "Usually we do, but we're fresh out. I think we'll have some more on Wednesday." At which point he turned around and had another fit.

Well, I'd had enough excitement for one day and went home to my flu-y wife. Sorry, I said, you'll have to tough it out. They're all out of the Miracle Cure.

Miracle Chili. It's chilly here in south Texas, down in the 40's and it's been like that all week. I've been hankering for a chili since Monday but just haven't had the time. A proper chili takes many hours to ripen, at least three. Mine's been on for two and a bit and it's just starting to smell like chili instead of meat and water and stuff.

OK, since you're dying to know, here's the blueprint:

In the chili pot: chopped tomatoes (canned or fresh), tomato puree, water, chopped jalapenos, dried onion flakes.
Cook up: 2 red onions (chopped), garlics (lots minced), 3 lbs steak (cut into 1/2 inch chunks)
Add: salt, stock cube.

Simmer for 2-3 hours. Add tomato paste for a thicker chili, but if it's OK then don't bother. Check the seasonings for bite (add more jalapeno or hot sauce or pepper flakes) and salt.

Serve with cornbread or tortillas or biscuits, salad. Beans are up to you. A Texas chili has no beans by definition. Beans cooked on the side and added are cool, or sometimes I break the rules, devil I am, and add beans directly to the Texas chili instantly transforming it into a liberal, anything goes, tax & spend, California chili.

And there you have it.

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