Chasen’s Chili

R.I.P. Liz Taylor

Chasen’s Restaurant in Hollywood, California probably made the most famous chili. The owner of the restaurant, Dave Chasen, kept the recipe a secret, entrusting it to no one. For years, he came to the restaurant every Sunday to privately cook up a batch, which he would freeze for the week, believing that the chili was best when reheated. “It is a kind of bastard chili” was all that Dave Chasen would divulge.

In 1962 Liz Taylor had Chasen’s chili flown to the set of Cleopatra while filming in Rome.  She loved it and so do I.  It’s time consuming to make because of cutting the meat into tiny cubes, but well worth the effort.

It used to be sold frozen at Costco, but I’m not sure if it’s still available.

Chasen’s Chili

Serves 6

1/2 lb dried pinto beans
1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes in juice
1 large green bell pepper, chopped
2 Tbs vegetable oil
3 cups onions, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 cup parsley, chopped
1/2 cup butter
2 lbs beef chuck, coarsely chopped
1 lb pork shoulder, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup Gebhardt’s brand chili powder
1 Tbs salt
1 1/2 tsp black pepper
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin

Rinse the beans, picking out the debris. Place beans in a Dutch oven with water to cover. Boil for 2 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 5 minutes. In a large skillet sauté bell pepper in oil for 5 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 sauté 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 off excess fat and serve.


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