The passing of Elizabeth Taylor has resurrected the old story of her having chili from Chasen’s Restaurant in Beverly Hills sent to Rome during the shooting of Cleopatra (1962).
In the photo above, Don Taylor, Ardis Holden, William Holden (Escape From Fort Bravo, 1953), Nancy Reagan and Ronald Reagan (Tennessee’s Partner, 1955) visit the Old Hollywood landmark. (Reagan’s booth is on display in his presidential library.)
Here, in honor of Miss Taylor, is Chasen’s chili recipe.
Chasen’s Famous Chili
1/2 pound dry pinto beans
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes in juice
1 large green bell pepper, chopped
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 cups onions, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 cup parsley, chopped
1/2 cup butter
2 pounds beef chuck, coarsely chopped*
1 pound pork shoulder, coarsely chopped*
1/3 cup Gebhardt’s chili powder
1 tablespoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons Farmer Brothers ground cumin**
Rinse the beans, picking out debris. Place beans in a Dutch oven with water to cover. Boil for two minutes. Remove from heat. Cover and let stand one hour. Drain off liquid.
Rinse beans again. Add enough fresh water to cover beans. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer covered, for one hour or until tender.
Stir in tomatoes and their juice. Simmer five minutes. In a large skillet, saute bell pepper in oil for five minutes. Add onion and cook until tender, stirring frequently. Stir in the garlic and parsley. Add mixture to bean mixture. Using the same skillet, melt the butter and saute beef and pork chuck until browned. Drain. Add to bean mixture along with the chili powder, salt, pepper and cumin.
Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for one hour. Uncover and cook 30 minutes more or to desired consistency. Chili shouldn’t be too thick – it should be somewhat liquid but not runny like soup. Skim of excess fat and serve.
NOTE: You can freeze this chili for several months. When reheating refrigerated leftover or frozen chili, add a few tablespoons of water to regain proper consistency.
* Chasen’s used the best beef chuck, center cut, trimmed completely of fat. The restaurant used a special meat grinder, but for the home cook, meat chopped into one-quarter to one-half-inch chunks is much better than ground meat for this chili.
** Sometimes cumin seed is used in place of the ground cumin. It’s a matter of personal preference.