Appalachians are seasonal folk. At some point right around now-ish, when the air takes on that nip in the morning and the leaves start to change, Appalachians everywhere are getting ready. Dusting off the hiking boots, breaking out the knitting, pulling the quilts out from the closet. No one has to tell us it’s time to break out the slow cooker and make chilli. We just know.
My dad makes the best chilli, of course. He lives in a holler (hollow?) in Hiwassee, Virginia. On a day like this, with the sky so painfully blue and the breeze blowing through my clothes on the line, I long for the smell of pipe tobacco and wood burning in his old stove, and a rambling story or sermon told over a steaming bowl of something cooked nice and slow.
Below is Daddy’s recipe for chilli. He’s a religious man, so he gives the Lord credit for pretty much everything.
‘I Give the Lord Credit’ Chilli
– 1 lb mince meat (beef, turkey or deer meat)
– some chopped onions
– flour – whole wheat
– sesame seeds (if you got ’em)
– garlic, cumin, cilantro (coriander), chilli powder (all to taste)
– pinto beans (tinned or soaked & cooked – like about a can’s worth)
– can of tomato sauce
– can of Rotel chillies (you can sub canned tomatoes and chop up some chillies)
– fresh, minced habenero chillies (to taste)
Brown minced meat and onions in a heavy saucepan (cast iron is best). Drain the grease from the meat and set aside.
Add the pintos and tomato sauce to the pan and cook for a while. Like 10 mins.
Mix the same amount of flour as the meat grease (drippings) – mix it real good.
Dump the flour/drippings paste and all the rest of the ingredients into the pan.
While cooking, give a long sermon (optional).
Cook until your house smells so good your neighbours invite themselves over.
Serve with corn bread and shredded cheese.
Don’t forget to give the Lord credit.