Red Chili

Based on Steve Strattman's Bowl of Clone

November 1, 2008 - It was cold and raining this year for our Halloween party. I wanted something hot and hearty to put on the buffet table. Feijoada was on the to-do list, but I needed another dish that would work for my non-pork eating friends. The internet is full of Chili recipes and I read a number of them before settling on this one; I made an excellent choice. I modified it slightly to suit us.

I like to credit a primary source, but I wasn't able find one. I got the recipe from LookD, but later Googling found the same Bowl of Clone recipe all over the net. I think that wide spread distribution is a testament to just how good this recipe is.

Then, a week after this page went live, I got an email from Steve Strattman himself! The history of this great chili can be found below the recipe.

This is loose chili, like Chili Colorado. It has a fantastic flavor. This recipe is medium hot. If you want to cool it down, use less cayenne pepper. It serves well in a bowl by itself. I like it with mashed potatoes. I've even poured it over well steamed cauliflower - but I'm weird.

Prep time: 40 minutes
Difficulty: Easy
Cook time: 3 hours
Serves: 8

More super recipes!

per serving nutrition from Wolfram Alpha
A. jalapeño pepper 1  

Cut the jalapeño into a few pieces and place in a small saucepan with one cup water. Bring to a boil. Turn off the heat and let the mix stand until needed.

B. beef chuck 3 pounds Cut into 0.75 inch cubes.
yellow onion 1 large Diced coarsely.

Brown the meat in a large heavy bottomed pot over high heat.  Don't overload the pot or the meat will steam instead of brown. If you see things bubbling, then that's meat steaming; let it dry out and get brown.

Let the meat get well browned - a lot of flavor comes from this step.

When the meat is browned, add the onion and cook until softened, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir often and make sure the onion doesn't burn.

C. sweet paprika 1 tablespoons Do not use smoked paprika
cayenne pepper 1 teaspoon This makes the chili medium hot. Use less or more to taste.
  chicken stock 1 quart  
  tomato sauce 12 ounce can  
beef bullion 2 cubes Smashed.

When the onion is soft add the paprika and cayenne pepper stirring constantly. Let them heat about one minute.

Add the chicken stock, tomato sauce, bouillon, and one tablespoon of the water from the jalapeño. Discard the rest of the jalapeño mix.

Bring the pot to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook over low heat for two hours.

You'll have to add another quart of water about half way through. (You could also do this step in a crock pot.)

D. chili powder 7 tablespoons  
cumin, ground 1 tablespoon  
garlic 2 cloves Minced coarsely.
  white pepper, ground 0.5 teaspoon  
  salt 3/8 teaspoon  

Two hours later...

Add chili powder, cumin, garlic and pepper. Let it simmer for 30 minutes more. Salt to taste.

Serve in deep bowls with a big slice of sourdough bread.

December 2008 - I was very pleased to receive an email from Steve Strattman just a week after I published this recipe. The Google spider must be moving fast these days.

Steve's email signature proudly proclaims

1987 Terlingua chili champion (Behind the store), the original cook-off  
1986 Penthalon Gumbo Champion

According to the official Bowl of Red web site Steve won the Frank X. Tolbert / Wick Fowler International Chili Championship in 1987. His fame was also reported in a Texas Instruments alumni newsletter, but the link is no longer available. Steve reports that only the Philadelphia Inquirer covered the cook-off that year. He gave them a recipe that was similar, but different than the one he actually cooked. (Sly dog!)

The published recipe did take first place in a cook-off at Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana. At that cook-off Steve beat the defending CASI champion, from Shreveport, in his own backyard.

The only difference between the two was that in Terlingua Steve just floated the jalapeño pepper in the chili whole and then removed it before it ruptured. He later enjoyed the pepper as a snack, seasoned by the chili it cooked in.

Let Steve's two emails tell the rest of the story:

Just remember that these championships, being foods, are very subjective. Everybody's tastes are different and what I like may not be what the judges are looking for. In winning a cook-off, you just have to be lucky. Thanks again for the kind words about my chili.

I have pretty much quit the chili trail. My better cooking is Gumbo which I also have a world championship in.

As far as the Gumbo recipe. It is not listed on the web but I will tell you this, Gumbo can be made out of almost anything you enjoy eating. I always use the carcass from my Thanksgiving turkey along with the meat that remains on the bone. Once you make the roux, which can be found on the Internet, using equal oil and flour, then just add what you like.

I use onion, bell pepper, celery, turkey and seasoning. Remember, use what you like. There is really no correct way. You may need to tweak it to taste.

I feel that the recipes that have too many spices in them don't allow the flavors to come out. I make gumbo out of turkey, duck, goose, shrimp, seafood (several different types of seafood), and sausage.

Okra is great in Gumbo, but I only use it in seafood and shrimp. However, it will thicken up the mix, which is what I like.

There are a lot of Gumbo recipes on the Internet and they are all similar to mine; it is the tweaking that makes the difference. Remember, food is a regional thing as well as individual. What I like may not be what you may like so be creative. It sounds like you like to tweak recipes so enjoy.

And what about that odd name for his chili? "I still don't know where the bowl of clone" came from, says Steve. Maybe someone from the Internet community will be able to tell us both about that?