A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry forthcoming—B.P. (3/29)
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Entry from November 23, 2006
Buzzard’s Breath Chili

Buzzard’s Breath Chili was the winning recipe at the CHili Appreciation Society’s International Cookoff in Terlingua, Texas, in either 1971 or 1977 (the below accounts differ). The same recipe can be found on many internet websites.


Texas Cooking
Buzzard’s Breath Chili
Cooks on the competition chili circuit are known to be playful when naming their recipes. But don’t let the name of this recipe fool you. This chili took first prize at the Chili Appreciation Society International Cookoff in Terlingua, Texas in 1977.
3 tablespoons lard, butter or bacon drippings
2 large onions, coarsely chopped
8 pounds beef chuck or round, coarse chili grind
5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
5 tablespoons, plus 1 teaspoon ground hot red chile
5 tablespoons, plus 1 teaspoon ground mild red chile
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano (preferably Mexican oregano)
3 8-ounce cans tomato sauce
3 cups water
2 tablespoons salt
parsley (optional)
1 cup masa harina (corn flour)
Melt the lard, butter or drippings in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until they are translucent.

Combine the beef with the garlic, ground chile, cumin and oregano. Add this meat-and-spice mixture to the onions in the pot. Break up any lumps with a fork and cook, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes, until meat is evenly browned.

Add the tomato sauce, water, salt and optional parsley. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 1 hour.

Stir in the masa harina to achieve the desired consistency.

Cook 10 minutes longer, stirring. Taste and adjust seasonings. Serves 16.

8 October 1981, Chicago Daily Herald, section 5, pg. 1:
Buzard’s Breath Chili
The original version calls for “dead cow meat,” dried red ants, and cigar ashes, said Butel. Still, this recipe, everything included, took first prize at the Chili Appreciation Society International Cookoff in Terlingua, Texas, in 1971.

Posted by Barry Popik
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (1) Comments • Thursday, November 23, 2006 • Permalink


The date was the first Saturday in November, 1977. The cook is my father, Tom Griffin, and he won the World Championship with this recipe.

Posted by Tom Griffin  on  02/27  at  02:36 PM

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