Recently I was reading a story in the Los Angeles Times about this thing called a "chili brick". The chili brick of which they were speaking comes from the Dolores Canning Company in Los Angeles.
I was familiar with the Dolores pickled pork rinds and pigs feet, having seen them in the supermaket and tempted to buy them. However, it's one of those things I could never quite convince myself to take home with me. Years ago, back in Tennessee, I recall having tried pig's feet and liking them, but I just never got in a habit of keeping a jar of little feet in my refrigerator. I figure if I had a jar of pickled pork rinds or pig's feet, the first few bites might be an interesting novelty, but the entire jar would never get eaten and have to be eventually thrown away.
This chili brick was something which I'd never heard of, but it sounded intriguing. My initial search began at a Ralph's supermarket near my home, but I did not see any chili bricks there. Thanks to the internet I located the Dolores website to find out where I could find a chili brick. I must have missed seeing chili bricks in Ralph's because they were listed as a source, but I wasn't going to take any chances. I went to the Superior Market up the street from my home in Pico Rivera, since they cater mainly to the Hispanic market and I was certain that they would carry the complete line of Dolores products.
My hunch was correct. In a freezer case I found the 20 ounce sealed plastic tubs of chili bricks. They are apparently shipped to the stores frozen, but the company recommends that they be displayed in the regular meat counter which may have been where they were displayed at Ralphs. A 20 oz chili brick at Superior Market was $3.29. The brick consists of a flavorfully seasoned mixture of finely ground beef and beef hearts. To prepare you just put the thawed brick in a saucepan and add water or beef broth and heat and stir until the brick is melted. The pure meat mixture would be ideal for chili dogs or to add to any recipe calling for an all-meat chili mixture.
Chili bricks were originated in the 1800s by the chuckwagon cooks on cattledrives. They were made from dried beef and seasonings and formed into bricks for easy storage. The dehydrated bricks would be mixed with water for an easy on the trail meal for hungry cowboys at the end of a long day driving cattle. Dolores is one of the few remaining companies to market chili bricks. They are primarily only available in Southern California but can be ordered online through the Dolores website.
I was very pleased with my first Dolores Chili Brick experience. This was some of the best chili I've made and I have made some pretty darn good chili in the past. More importantly though, my wife absolutely loved it. If it pleases her palate then I think I've done pretty well. By the way, I might mention lest any one think there is any bias here. My chili experiment was inspired by the article I read in the paper and I was not compensated by the Dolores Company in any way. However, if they want to send me some of those pickled pigs feet or pork rinds I'd be willing to try them and tell you readers what I think.
So anyway, without any further ado, here is my chili recipe:
Arlee's Realee Tastee Chilee
(about 10 bowlfuls)1 can beef broth
1 Dolores Chili Brick
1 Dolores Chili Brick
1 14 1/2 oz can diced tomatoes in sauce
1 15 1/2 oz can kidney beans
1 15 1/2 oz can chili beans in zesty sauce
1 29 1/2 oz can of hominy
1 4 oz can green chiles, diced
1 or 2 chopped brown onions
1/2 cup of left over coffee from breakfast
1 tbsp McCormick Tex Mex Chili Beef Seasoning
3 tbsp Brown sugar
3 tbsp granulated sugar
2 tbsp honey
1/2 cup marsala
As you are melting down the chili brick in a sauce pan, add in the can of heated up beef broth. After you've let the chili and broth mix simmer a bit, put it in the crock pot and add in the rest of the ingredients and cook on high for a couple of hours and then turn down to low and you can cook it all day and get it whenever you feel like eating it. If cooking all day and leaving it, you can just start off on low and leave it there. Refrigerate any leftovers and it'll taste even better the next day.
Add whatever fixings you like. It's mighty good just plain with some crackers or cornbread, but I also like to add some chopped onions and shredded cheddar cheese.
If you want to make it even meatier, throw in some ground beef, smoked sausage, cooked stew beef, or anything else. Why you can even add cubed smoked ham or spam and that's pretty tasty. The point is you can add whatever else you want or adjust it in any way you like. The sugar and honey make for a sweeter chili, but if you want it hot and spicy go crazy adding whatever kinds of peppers you like. I like it hot, but my wife doesn't do well with real spicy and I figure I can always add some Tabasco when I fix my bowl. I made some corn muffins to go with my batch of chili.
This is so easy because you just have to toss it all together and let it cook in the crock pot and forget about it. I can't resist stirring it periodically and giving it a taste test, but you could put it on in the morning, go to work, and when you come home dinner is waiting.
An ice cold beverage and some good hot chili. There you go cowboys and cowgirls-- eat your vittles.