While reading various pieces on Elizabeth Taylor’s life last week, something that popped up several times was Chasen’s Chili. Legend has it that the movie star was so fond of the chili from the Hollywood restaurant (that closed its doors in 1995) that she had buckets of it flown to Rome when she was filming “Cleopatra.”

 

I did a search for the chili recipe, and I found several versions — all fairly similar with slight variations — of the dish. I decided I’d honor the life of Elizabeth Taylor the best way I could — by trying my hand at Chasen’s Chili. I chose Nora Ephron’s version of the dish that she shared with Epicurious a couple of years ago when she directed “Julie and Julia.”

The prep work for this chili took almost an hour. It was definitely worth it. My husband said it was one of the best chili dishes he’s ever eaten, and definitely the best one I’ve ever made.

The recipe calls for two pounds of ground chuck, ground as big as possible along with a pound of ground pork. I used ground beef (not ground particularly big) and pork from a local farm, Hillacres Pride farm. I also used canned Jersey Fresh canned tomatoes in place of the Italian San Marzano tomatoes. Other than those changes, I used the ingredients called for in the recipe, altering a few of the measurements based on my preferences. By using ingredients that were produced close to home, I put my own East Coast spin on this famous Hollywood spicy dish.

Here’s Nora Ephron’s version of Chasen’s Chili — so good.

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds ground chuck, ground big if possible
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • Red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 green pepper chopped
  • 3 cups chopped onion
  • 2 cloves smashed garlic
  • 3 TB oil (I cut it down to 2 TB)
  • 1 stick butter (insert Paula Dean joke here)
  • 1 35 oz.can crushed San Marzano tomatoes
  • 4 15 oz. cans pinto beans
  • 2/3 cup chili powder (I cut it down to ½ cup which is an entire 2.5 oz container)
  • 2 TB cumin
  • 2 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • Salt and pepper (add salt a 1/2 tsp. at a time — I added more than I thought I’d need, but I’m not sure how much I ended up using) 
Directions
  1. Drain beans and rinse. Put into a large Dutch oven with the can of tomatoes. Heat for a few minutes.
  2. Heat oil and gently cook peppers. When soft add onions and gently cook. Add garlic for a minute or so. Add all to Dutch oven with tomatoes and beans.
  3. Melt half the butter and cook the beef and pork until no longer raw. Add spices and stir. Add to the tomato mixture and add the rest of the butter. Cook about 30 to 45 minutes, covered, over low heat.
My notes
  • I cooked the chili for over two hours. After 45 minutes, it was cooked, but I thought it needed more time for the flavors to blend. It was definitely much better after the two hours.
  • This makes a lot of chili — enough for at least four separate dinners for the four of us. Chili always freezes well, so although this dish is a bit time intensive, the amount of time it takes is worth it because on three other nights, all I’ve have to do is reheat the leftovers. Love that.

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