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Chasen's Original Chili Recipe

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“This is the stuff of which Hollywood legends are made. When Elizabeth Taylor was filming Cleopatra in Rome she craved the chili made at Chasen's Restaurant in Los Angeles so much that she was willing to pay $100 just to have the order shipped to her. For years the recipe remained a closely guarded secret. It was said the owner, David Chasen, came to the restaurant every Sunday to privately cook up a batch which he would freeze for the week, believing that the chili was best when reheated. Letter to Dave Chasen, owner of Chasen's Restaurant: "The chili is so good. All gone now. Please send me ten quarts of your wonderful chili in dry ice to 448 Via Appia pignatelli. - Love and kisses, Elizabeth Taylor." - Elizabeth Taylor, on location in Rome, 1962”
1hr 20mins
10 Cups

Ingredients Nutrition


  1. A secret ingredient added by a chef (after Dave Chasen stopped making the chili himself) is a quarter cup or 4 tablespoons of Kahlua liqueur. I heard someone won a chili championship with the recipe, including that addition.
  2. *Chasen’s used the best beef chuck, center cut, trimmed completely of fat. The restaurant used a special meat grinder, but for the home cook, meat chopped into one-quarter to one-half-inch chunks is much better than ground meat for this chili. Alternatively, ask the butcher to put the meat through a “chili plate” ONE time – this is a very coarse grind, and works well for chili.
  3. ** Chasen's used Gebhardt's Chili Powder and Farmer Bros Cumin. Sometimes cumin seed is used in place of the ground cumin. It's a matter of personal preference. You might toast the seeds in a dry skillet, and crush them before adding to the recipe.
  4. Rinse the beans, picking out debris. Place beans in a Dutch oven with water to cover 2' above beans. Boil for two minutes. Remove from heat. Cover and let stand one hour. Drain off liquid.
  5. Rinse beans again. Add enough fresh water to cover beans. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer covered, for one hour or until tender.
  6. Stir in tomatoes and their juice. Simmer five minutes. In a large skillet, sauté bell pepper in oil for five minutes. Add onion and cook until tender, stirring frequently. Stir in the garlic and parsley. Add mixture to bean mixture. Using the same skillet, melt the butter and sauté beef and pork chuck until browned. Drain. Add to bean mixture along with the chili powder, salt, pepper and cumin.
  7. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for one hour. Uncover and cook 30 minutes more or to desired consistency. Chili shouldn't be too thick - it should be somewhat liquid but not runny like soup. Skim of excess fat and serve.
  8. NOTE: You can freeze this chili for several months. When reheating refrigerated leftover or frozen chili, add a few tablespoons of water to regain proper consistency.

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