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 from April 29, 2008
Chicken Chili

In 1977, the Texas legislature made “chili” the official state dish. Chile con carne was intended; one legislator even asked other legislators if they had ever heard of “chicken chili.” (See 1977 citation, below.)

“Chicken chili” (sometimes mislabeled as “chicken chili con carne” or “chicken chile con carne") has been served in some form since at least 1901; recipes have appeared in newspapers since the 1920s.


9 April 1901, Arizona Republican (Phoenix, AZ), pg. 4, col. 1:
Chili con Carne
Tamales
Chili Sauce
Chili Stew
Chili and Chicken
Chili and Liver
Kidney with Chili
Tripe with Chili
Rice with Chili

16 May 1910, Idaho Daily Statesman (Boise, ID), pg. 3:
He entertained his family and close friends at a chicken chili dinner and later in the evening was one of a large party that went to a dance in Ben Lomond. 

25 January 1917, Moberly (MO) Daily Index, pg. 6, col. 4:
This chop suey is made by Davis’ tomale man; he also has chicken chili and tomales.

29 April 1928, Hamilton (OH) Evening Journal, pg. 4, col. 5:
Veal Chili Con Carne—Two pounds cooked veal, three tablespoons butter, two small onions, one small can pimentos, pepper and salt, two cups meat stock, one tablespoon chili powder, two cups boiled rice. Cut veal into very small cubes. Put butter into a frying pan, and chopped onions and pimentos and fry ten minutes. Add meat, seasonings, stock and chili powder. Cover and cook slowly one half-hour. Serve garnished with rice. For chicken chili con carne substitute cooked chicken for veal—chicken broth for meat stock.

1 December 1934, Mansfield (OH) News-Journal, pg. 12, col. 7 ad:
CHICKEN CHILI—10c
This delicacy prepared by former chef of the Casino at Tia Juana, Mex.
(Lutzie’s—ed.)

13 September 1935, Hagerstown (MD) Daily Mail, pg. 6, col. 2:
Chicken Chili Con Carne—Cut up the chickens. Melt some butter and fry in it two large sliced onions and then the contents of a good sized tin of pimentoes. Cook for ten minutes before adding the chicken, seasonings, a pint of stock and a tablespoon of chili powder. Put into a saucepan with a tight cover and simmer until the chickens are tender.

5 January 1947, San Antonio (TX) Light, magazine section, pg. 26, cols. 2-3:
Chicken Red-Bean Chili
2 cups dried red kidney beans
1 qt. cold water
1 sliced, peeled large onion
1 bay leaf
A few washed celery leaves
2 1/2 teasp. chili powder
4 teasp. salt
1 4-lb. fowl, cut up as for fricassee
2 tablesp. fat
1/5 teasp. pepper
1/4 cup flour
2 tablesp. minced parsley

Wash beans and soak overnight in cold water. Drain; add enough cold water to drained liquid to make 3 cups; pour over beans. Cover; bring to a boil, and simmer gently 1 1/2 hrs. Add next 4 ingredients and 3 teasp. of the salt. Cover and simmer 2 1/2 hrs., or until beans are tender. Add boiling water to keep beans covered while simmering.

Drain and reserve liquid. Arrange beans on large platter, keeping them to one side. Keep them warm until the fowl is cooked. At the time seasonings are added to the beans, brown fowl on all sides in fat in Dutch oven. Then simmer fowl, covered, with 5 cups boiling water, remaining 1 tsp. salt, and pepper for 2 1/2 hrs., or until fowl is tender. Then drain fowl. Combine bean liquid and chicken stock. Then stir in flour mixed to a smooth paste with 1/2 cup cold water. Add the fowl and bring the mixture to a boil. On a platter arrange the fowl with its gravy and the kidney beans; garnish with chopped parsley. This recipe serves 6.

19 June 1947, Dallas (TX) Morning News, section 1, pg. 4 ad:
Chicken Chili, 20-oz. ... 60c
(Patterson’s Pantry Pride Products—ed.)

4 September 1952, Long Beach (CA) Independent, pg. 10C, col. 2:
CHICKEN CHILI
2 tablespoons fat
1 cup chopped onion
1 green pepper, diced
1/2 clove garlic, minced
2 cups cubed chicken, cooked or canned
1 No. 2 can tomatoes
1 No. 2 can kidney beans
1 teaspoon MSG
2 teaspoons chili powder

Melt fat in heavy skillet over low heat. Add onions, green pepper and garlic. Cook slowly until onion is soft and yellow. Add remaining ingredients. Cover. Simmer 1 1/2 hours.

11 February 1959, Eureka (CA) Humboldt Standard, pg. 17, cols. 7-8:
CHICKEN CHILI
New York (UP)—Chicken chili is a sure-fire hit for the supper crowd. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in heavy skillet over low heat. Add 1 cup chopped onion, 1 diced green peppers, and 1/4 clove garlic, minced. Cook slowly until onion softens and yellows. Add 2 cups cooked chicken, 1 (1-pound) can tomatoes, 1 (1-pound) can kidney beans, 2 teaspoons each of salt and chili powder and 1 teaspoon monosodium glutamate. Simmer, covered, about 1 hour. Serves 6.

31 May 1977, New York (NY) Times, “For Texas Legislators, Frivolity Marks Session” by John M Crewdson, pg. 16:
They presumably returned refreshed and prepared to consider one of the most inflammatory issues of this year or any other: whether finally to enshrine chili as the official state dish. They did, but only after turning aside genuinely impassioned pleas from partisans of barbeque and other regional foods.  One representative, a gumbo man, refused all calls to yield the floor while demanding to know whether anyone present had ever heard of “chicken chili.”

Posted by Barry Popik
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (0) Comments • Tuesday, April 29, 2008 • Permalink