San Antonio chili, plus

Chili, yes, Texas or Tex-Mex, no. There is a (very) small unincorporated community about 11 miles south of Socorro, NM, named San Antonio. I probably would not know of this village, except for two things. Most notably, Conrad Hilton (yes, the guy who began the Hilton Hotel chain) was born here back when New Mexico was still a territory, a fact that I learned from his keynote speech at my graduation from NMSU in 1957. And second, it is the location of the “world famous” Owl Bar and Café (OBC), where I hosted a family dinner in honor of my son’s graduation from New Mexico Tech in Socorro, NM, in 1985.

The OBC is “world famous” because it claims to have originated, and is still acknowledged to produce, the best green chile cheeseburger known to mankind, and is internationally renowned because of the many foreign students over the years at NM Tech who regularly frequented it and carried tales of good food and great merriment back to their homelands. My memories of the OBC experience inspired the Green Chile Cheeseburger Soup and Posole recipes, found elsewhere among these pages.

The OBC also makes an excellent chili*, which I have emulated and embellished below according to my dietetic guidelines.

  • 10 NM red dried chiles, seeds removed
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups textured vegetable protein (TVP)
  • 1 tsp browning sauce
  • 2 tsp ground cayenne chile
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 1 lb ground lamb
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (12-oz) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 (8-oz) can tomato sauce
  • 1 (6-oz) can tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp powdered cumin
  • 1 tbsp powdered coriander
  • ¼ tbsp powdered thyme
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 6 bay leaves, fresh
  • 4 low sodium beef bouillon cubes
  • 1 quart low sodium beef broth
  • ¼ cup crumbled lower G. I. flour tortilla
  • water

Put the dried chiles in a blender with 2 cups water and blend until smooth. Add the browning sauce and mix. Remove from blender to a bowl and add the TVP and enough water to reconstitute the TVP. Let this sit while assembling other ingredients.

In a large stockpot, brown the beef, pork, and lamb; add onions and garlic and continue to cook until onions are limp. Add in the tomatoes, tomato sauce, and tomato paste and mix well. Add all the herbs and spices, beef broth, bay leaves, and bouillon cubes. Add water as needed to bring the consistency to that of a good chili. Buzz the tortilla in a food processor until very fine. Add to the chile as a thickener. Let the chili simmer about half an hour before serving.

A beer goes good with this. New Mexico has quite a few small breweries that produce excellent candidates.

Serves 10–15.