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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Hot Chili for a Chilly Day

                        
           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  Dolores Chili Brick
1 can beef broth
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.

23 comments:

  1. I love my crock pot! And we've all been in the mood for soup and chili because of the weather. Thanks!

    Elizabeth
    Mystery Writing is Murder

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  2. Wow, here's a different side of you. I will have to make the chili.

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  3. I'm going to print your recipe and pass it on to Mrs. Geezer.

    We have rain in the forecast this weekend and chili always taste extra good when it rains.

    Thanks Lee

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  4. That sure looks tasty! I just made a big batch of Kahlua Chili. Nothing like a hot bowl of chili on a rainy SW Washington day!

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  5. Thanks for your post. Glad you enjoyed our Dolores Chili and hope we can spread the word throughout the West Coast, L.A.'s Favorite Chili is Dolores Chili. Thanks all! Send comments to dave@dolorescanning.com

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  6. Thanks for sharing this recipe Lee,
    perhaps I may sample the real thing when I visit the US in June.

    Yvonne.

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  7. `
    "Hominy", huh?
    OK, well, that's certainly a new one on me.

    My Pa used to get on these kicks where he'd start experimenting with a whole bunch of different chili recipes of his own invention.

    Sometimes he'd hit upon a really great one, but the problem was that he never wrote down what ingredients he was using so he could never duplicate it again.

    I think for him, it was more about "the quest" to find the perfect recipe than it really was about "settling" on one recipe.

    Of course, I've been a vegetarian now for 25 years, so I hardly remember what really great chili tastes like. However, one ingredient that my Pa really did come to appreciate to such a degree that it became pretty much a staple in most of his later recipe experiments was "Beer."

    He'd add like maybe a can or half a can of beer and it really did impart a distinctively hearty flavor to the chili and seemed to bring out the more subtle flavors in some of the other ingredients. Even my Ma liked his "Beer Chilis" the best and she wasn't a drinker in the least.

    My Brother-In-Law had a pretty good chili recipe at one time, too (but no beer in it). I've got it written down somewhere and if I ever run across it, I'll Email it yer way, rLEE-b.

    All this thinking about chili has made me hungry for some...

    ...steamed vegetables. BAH!

    ~ "Lonesome Dogg" McVeghead

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  8. Thanks so much for entering my 100+ Followers contest today! I'm happy to have discovered your blog today since chili is the perfect meal on this unusually snowy day in Georgia! I think I'll try your recipe, minus the chili brick (this time).

    You have a great blog; I look forward to reading more!

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  9. After reading this I'm starving! Sound delicious Lee, thanks for sharing.

    Adding coffee is something I hadn't heard of. Interesting.

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  10. Elizabeth -- The crock pot is one of the most useful cooking inventions ever.

    Teresa -- Yeah, well I gotta eat and if I don't fix it I gotta go out for it.

    Ron -- Yeah, it was that cooler weather last week that made me want chili. If the Mrs. makes it, let me know what you think. It's a sweeter chili made with my wife in mind. You being from around here, had you ever heard of this "chili brick" before?

    Gregg --ooo! Kahlua sounds better than coffee. That sounds like another dark sweet chili like mine.

    Dave -- If I like something I like to spread the word and this Chili brick that you folks make is pretty good. You must have some kind of notification thing that lets you know when somebody posts about your product--I was surprised to get your comment-- you guys are right on top of things!

    Yvonne -- do many people eat chili in the UK? If you haven't tried it, well you'll have to give it a taste. My recipe has a little kick to it, but if my wife can handle it I guess anybody can.

    Stephen -- I'd never heard of using hominy either until I read the LA Times feature about chilis. In my opinion the hominy really works well---I think I like it better than the beans.
    I the past I've typically made chili using beer, but I think it usually works better when you're shooting for spicy. This time I got to thinking about some sweeter chili like I used to get at the Tu-lane Truck Stop near Kitchener, Ontario up in Canada and thought I'd do something like that. The marsala and coffee really added a different richness to the taste.

    Nicole -- Chili and a snowy day go well together. I don't know if you could find chili bricks where you are, but maybe you can order them online someday. Get some friends to order with you since I think you have to order 6 bricks at a time to have shipped to you.

    Tamika-- I don't know how Texans feel about sweet chili, but I can picture cowboys putting coffee in their chili for a richer flavor. In Tennessee I used to hear about people making red-eye gravy with coffee and country ham drippings.

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  11. If only I weren't veggie...

    Many regular grocery stores here feature pig's feet and such. What scares me is pork butt, sealed in plastic, not refrigerated, and with colored tatoo right there on the butt!

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  12. I love chili, but have never been a fan of offal of any kind and beef hearts...well they're awful--yuk, yuk.

    Having said that, I love your ideas for varying the recipe for chili.

    Wouldn't mind a recipe for those corn muffins either!

    Thanks for stopping by my neck of the woods today. Your advice on how to get those pesky kids pick up after themselves was much appreciated.

    Shelly at Tropical Mum

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  13. Never ceases to amaze me as to what I will find in someone's blog. Thanks for the chili brick education. :)

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  14. This is certainly the most unusual recipe for chili that I’ve ever seen which makes it really tempting. I’m just not too sure about the chili brick – I’m kind of wimpy when it comes to eating hearts and other "innards."

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  15. Diane --I'm with you on the pork butt--that hardly seems right.

    Shelly -- I don't think I could eat just beef hearts, but in this case it's very finely ground into the meat mixture, according to the L.A. Times article to give it a more robust meaty flavor.
    As far as the muffins, I went the easy route--Jiffy muffin mix--it makes some good muffins fast.

    Anita -- I try to be diverse here in this blog.

    Jane -- the hearts really aren't that bad-- the chili brick is good. I'm sure it can't be much worse that hot dogs, sausage, and other meat product foods.

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  16. I bought all the fixings for chili this past weekend but now I wish I had a chili brick. And I'm going to make some corn muffins.

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  17. Now I REALLY have a hankerin' fer some chili! Last night my wife and I were watching the Food Network show "Good Eats". They made some chili and it looked so good. My tastebuds were leaning that way. Now I come over here and mmmmmm sure sounds good! Thanks Arlee for the recipe and for stopping by my Mr. BibleHead blog and leaving your kind and encouraging comments. God bless.

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  18. I never even tried chili until I was married. The men in family love it - I kind of tolerate it :)

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  19. Mmmmmm it looks so good! Can't wait to make it. The Dolores Canning Co. should really give you a job in their marketing department.

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  20. Now I'm hungry.
    Chili with cheese and cornbread sounds perfect.
    Not sure about the meat brick part...
    but I love the coffee part!

    Off to scrounge the pantry...

    ~lola

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  21. Susan -- I don't know if any other companies make chili bricks, but canned all meat chili might work kind of okay. If you use plain meat then you'll probably need more spices and chili powder or something for flavoring.

    Jack -- those TV food programs do it to me everytime. I'll get a craving for something I've seen and that's it for me.

    Jemi --Well you might like this one-- I was inspired by the chili at the Tu-lane Truck Stop outside of Kitchner, Ont -- have you ever been there? I don't even know if it's still there. They made a great somewhat sweet chili that they served with toast.

    Ada -- the Dolores folks should at least send me some pickled pigs feet.

    Lola -- I wasn't sure about the meat brick part either. That's why I had to try it. It wasn't too bad for my tastes and I guess it's pretty popular around So. Cal.

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  22. Lee....you've added to my learning experiences!

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  23. We have more recipes on our website. http://www.dolorescanning.com/canning/recipes.html

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Lee