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 September 20, 2006
Dallas County Jail Chili (Texas Prison Chili)

Dallas County Jail chili (or Texas prison chili) supposedly originated in the 1930s in the Dallas County Jail. Dallas Sheriff Smoot Schmid (sometimes spelled Smood or Schmidt) became famous for it.


The Great Chili Project
Dallas County Jail Chili
[From the article “Just Another Bowl of Texas Red” by John Thorne in the September/October 1990 issue of Chile Pepper Magazine.]

Chili philosopher John Thorne comments: “Texas prison chili got its good reputation from Sheriff Smoot Schmidt’s truly fine recipe for the Dallas County Jail. Recently, however, a Texas prison chili contest was won by the Huntsville Penitentiary with a godawful recipe that called for twice as much cumin as chili powder and ‘2 handfuls’ of monosodium glutamate. In Texas, this is called crime deterrence.”

½ pound beef suet, ground
2 pounds coarsely ground beef
3 garlic cloves, minced
1½ tablespoons paprika
3 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon white pepper
1½ teaspoons dried sweet (mild) chile pods (or paprika)
3 cups water

Fry the suet in a heavy kettle. Add the meat, garlic, and seasonings; cover. Cook slowly for 4 hours, stirring occasionally. Add the water and continue cooking until the chili has thickened slightly, about 1 hour. Serve plain or mixed with an equal portion of cooked pink or red beans.

Yield: 6 servings
Heat Scale: Medium

With or Without Beans
by Joe E. Cooper
Dallas, TX: William S. Henson, Inc.
1952
Pg. 109:
SHERIFF SMOOT SCHMID’S RECIPE

“I have tasted the superlative Smoot Schmid chile. This dish is prepared in the clean, well-run jail kitchen in Dallas, which I visited. It is the best chile I ever tasted.”

That is the testimony of Julia Lee Wright, nationally famous food authority, as she saluted “one of the ten best recipes since 1933” in a food article which had nationwide circulation.

Smood Schmid, former Sheriff of Dallas County, at the (Pg. 110—ed.) time of this writing was serving the State of Texas as Chairman of the Board of Pardons and Paroles.

1/2 pound (2 cups) ground beef suet
2 pounds ground beef
3 buds garlic
1 1/2 tablespoons paprika
3 tablespoons chile powder
1 tablespoon comino seeds
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon white pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons ground dried sweet chili pods
3 cups water

Fry suet out in heavy kettle. Add meat, finely diced garlic and seasonings; cover. Cook slowly four hours, stirring occasionally. Add water; continue cooking until slightly thickened, about one hour. Serve plain or mixed with equal portions of cooked dried pink or red beans. Serves six. (Dried chili pods can be omitted).

14 August 1966, Chicago Tribune, “How about a bowl of chili?” by Robert Cromie, pg. P4:
Julia Wright, a cooking authority, once called Smoot Schmid, then Dallas county sheriff, and said she’d heard that his chili was exceptionally good. He invited her to the jail, where she was served a bowl of red in the kitchen and reported:

“I’ve tried the superlative Smood Schmid chili. This is the best I’ve ever tasted.”

It was Schmid’s boast that his customers rated his chili “as the best ever served behind bars.”

14 February 1968, Fremont (CA) Argus, pg. 9:
MR. MILLER’S chili recipe is the same that made the Dallas County Jail famous, he said. “Do you know that the chili in that jail was so good, people were committing crimes just to get in there?”

19 March 1968, Chicago Tribune, “How Hot the Chili? Stage Shoot-out to Decide” by Eleanor Page, pg. B3:
Mrs. Ben E. Beaird of LaGrange Park, a Texas native, thinks the recipes sound rather weak except for Wick Fowler’s use of jalapeno peppers, and offers to send her recipe for jail chili as it was served in the Dallas County jail in the 1930s. She intends to try Mr. Sass’s recipe for pinto beans out of curiosity, but not with chili. “Pintos to be served with chili should be cooked with nothing added but salt.”

30 September 1976, Chicago Tribune, pg. D3:
For a bit of nostalgia, try the famous Dallas County Jail Chili, that was supposed to have originated during the Depression. It’s said that the chili was so well known, it was a pleasure to go to jail. It’s a mild chili that could easily be heated up with chiles or a bottle or two of hot pepper sauce.
(...)
DALLAS COUNTY JAIL CHILI
Four servings
1/4 pound beef suet, cut in 1/2-inch pieces
2 pounds course ground beef
3 cloves garlic, crushed
3 tablespoons paprika
3 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon each: salt, white pepper, cumin seed [whole or ground]
2 cans [16 ounces] kidney beans
Hot pepper sauce to taste

Cook suet in heavy casserole or pot over medium heat, stirring frequently, until all fat is rendered. Remove and discard suet bits with slotted spoon. Pour off all but 1/4 cup fat. Brown meat and garlic, stirring frequently. Ass 2 cups water; heat to boil. Lower heat and simmer, covered, 2 hours. Stir in seasonings; simmer gently, uncovered, 1 hour. Add beans and heat through. Adjust seasonings and serve.

6 November 1984, Washington Post, pg. B4:
As for his current infirmity, Rather says he will get through it not thanks to chicken soup but with “some of Jean Rather’s famous Texas-prison chili” and several cups of “her very strong coffee, which is strong enough to float buckshot in.”

7 November 1984, New York Times, “Dan Rather Battles Sore Throat With Chili,” pg. C25:
“He was fighting it with his wife’s ‘Texas prison chile.’ It’s very hot.”

(Trademark)
Word Mark TEXAS JAILHOUSE CHILI
Goods and Services IC 029. US 046. G & S: chili for consumption on or off the premises. FIRST USE: 19750000. FIRST USE IN COMMERCE: 19750000
Mark Drawing Code (1) TYPED DRAWING
Design Search Code
Serial Number 76004216
Filing Date March 20, 2000
Current Filing Basis 1A
Original Filing Basis 1A
Published for Opposition April 30, 2002
Registration Number 2596784
Registration Date July 23, 2002
Owner (REGISTRANT) Erik’s DeliCafe, Inc. CORPORATION CALIFORNIA 365 Coral Street Santa Cruz CALIFORNIA 95060
Attorney of Record Paul W. Vapnek, Esq.
Disclaimer NO CLAIM IS MADE TO THE EXCLUSIVE RIGHT TO USE “CHILI” APART FROM THE MARK AS SHOWN
Type of Mark TRADEMARK
Register PRINCIPAL
Live/Dead Indicator LIVE

Posted by Barry Popik
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (0) Comments • Wednesday, September 20, 2006 • Permalink