Walt usually combined a can of Gebhardt’s (which had a lot of meat, few beans) and Dennison’s (lots of beans, not a lot of meat) when he ate at the Studio. The chili was always joined with a glass of V-8 and saltine crackers. This combination pleased his taste buds and his wallet.
Later once the Studio was financially sound, he also enjoyed the chili at Chasen’s, a popular Hollywood restaurant at the time. When Walt traveled, he would bring cans of chili and beans with him. One time when he was dining at the Dorchester Hotel in London, he had the waiter serve him the canned chili and crackers he brought with him, which embarrassed Lilly and Harry Tytle, one of the Studio producers, who were dining with him.
In his home later in his life, the family cook was able to perfect the recipe, (a nice balance between meat and beans). The result is the recipe used in the Parks today! The recipe was obtained from Walt’s oldest daughter, Diane, and the Family Museum in San Francisco, and is currently offered at Carnation Café at Disneyland Park.
- 1/4 cup olive oil, divided
- 3/4 pounds beef stew meat
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1 medium green pepper, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 poud ground beef
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 1/2 tablespoons onion powder
- 3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 plum tomatoes, diced
- 1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons beef base
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1 (14.5 ounce) can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
- Coarse salt to taste
- Garnish: 1/2 cup sour cream, 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, 2 diced tomatoes
For a spicier chili, add 1/8 teaspoon each coriander, turmeric, chili seeds, fennel, cloves, cinnamon, and ground ginger. You can also add dried hot pepper to taste.
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- Wash and sort beans and soak overnight in cold water.
- Drain beans and place in a 2-quart saucepan. Add fresh water to cover by 2 inches. Add sliced onion and simmer, covered, for 2 hours, until tender.
- Heat oil in a large pan and sauté garlic. Add beef and celery and cook until lightly browned. Add chili powder, paprika, and thyme. Mix in chopped tomatoes. Cover and simmer for 1 hour.
- When beans are tender, combine with meat, stirring gently. Add salt and pepper to taste.