Chili comes in many varieties...about as diverse as the ethnic mixes of the regions that made each style famous. One of the oldest and most unusual varieties is that which is known as "Green Bay" Chili or "Chili John" chili. It predates the similar Cincinnati 5-way by a number of years and traces back to Lithuanian immigrant "Chili" John Isaac, who opened a restaurant in 1913 down by the docks of Green Bay, WI, hanging a simple sign out front that said, "Chili".
|"Chili" John Isaac|
Chili John's at one time had 3 locations...Green Bay, Beaver Dam, WI, and Burbank, CA. All three are still in business, though not affiliated, and only the Green Bay one still serves the completely authentic John Isaac recipe. You can even order it online! http://www.chilijohns.com John Madden, legendary NFL coach and broadcaster, never missed a visit to Chili John's when he covered a Green Bay Packers game. Fran Tarkenton also was known to have a bowl before playing the Packers at home.
So where does "Real Chili" come into the story?
According to the Real Chili website, Milwaukee's infamous chili restaurant was started by Francis Honish in 1931. What the website doesn't tell you is that Francis Honish was a former cook at Chili John's in Green Bay. Hmmm. There was actually a bit of bad blood and a lawsuit or two over the issue way back when, but time seems to have quelled the implications of chili-theft. Both chilis are very, very similar in style and taste. Patrons today probably don't care about the politics involved, they're just glad that they can get a bowl of Green Bay Chili in Milwaukee or Green Bay!
I've eaten at Real Chili and all three of the no-longer-related Chili John's restaurants and no matter what variation you get, it's all good! This is a very, very close rendition of the original Chili John's chili, though the real recipe is still a secret.
You will need for the Meat Sauce:
1/2 lb. Beef Suet, rendered
1 onion, finely chopped
2 lbs hamburger browned
1 oz. unsweetened Baker's chocolate
3 T chili powder
1 T cayenne pepper (or less if you don't like it hot)
1 T garlic powder
1 T cumin
1/2 t nutmeg
1/4 t allspice
1/4 t ground cloves
1 T paprika
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
3-4 chili peppers, ground finely
2 regular soup-sized cans beef broth (or equivalent made from powdered)
Render the suet in a large pan, remove whatever is left and cook onions until tender. Add the meat and cook, breaking it up with a wooden spoon. When meat is browned, add spices, chocolate, broth, and vinegar, stirring to mix well. Bring to a boil, then turn heat to low and simmer uncovered for 1½ hours. It should start to thicken. It is best if refrigerated overnight and reheated the following day.
To serve, you will need:
Shredded cheddar cheese
Vinegar (I like British Malt Vinegar)
Warmed kidney beans or chili beans
Franks Red Hot
Pickled jalapeno slices
Spoon some cooked spaghetti noodles into a bowl, spoon generous portion of meat sauce on top of that, with some beans, a handful of oyster crackers, and a dash of vinegar. That's your basic Green Bay Chili. In addition, you can add any combination of the above toppings to complete your Green Bay Chili experience. Mmmm...hot, greasy, yummy Green Bay Chili!