It's quite amusing sometimes, when talking to ex-pat Kama'aina's here on the Mainland...once you get past all of the initial pleasantries ("Wea you wen' grad?"), without fail the conversation drifts to food, and what we miss ("ohhh man W and M Burgers"), and where to get what ("eh, you seen Purity Port-o-gee Sausage?"). In these conversations there are a few items that have reach iconic status, I'm talking about eye-rolling, lip smacking(taste memory is an amazing thing), stomach growling, iconic status. And what may seem to be surprising to some, is that one of these items is Chili....really, Chili. More specifically, Zippy's Chili. Somewhere between 1966 when the first Zippy's opened, to say 1971 when the second Zippy's opened, in Kaimuki, just a block from where we lived(in the old Crown Drive In location), Zippy's Chili had already won the stomachs of many locals. At the time of this article in 2004, Zippy's was selling 150,000 of chili a month. Not only through the restaurants, but Zippy's Chili had become a big time fund raising item, and of course there is online sales, and you can even get the frozen version at places like Marukai here on the mainland. Now that's alot of chili...in Hawaii?
Strangely enough, my favorite "local kine" Chili is from Rainbow Drive In, also pretty close to where I grew up. Even the Missus will get into the action, Her favorite is from Cafe 100. But still, the King of the Hill is Zippy's chili.
Right about now, all you Chili Purists should probably come back another day.....what you may read in the following paragraphs may be graphically disturbing. I've been told by many mainlanders that what Zippy's serves, "isn't Chili". In fact if I may digress.....Once while still working back home we took one of our mainland contractors to lunch at Zippy's. Now this guy was one of those everything is bigger and better where I come from (guess the state? it begins with a 'T') kinda guy, the other thing was, he wouldn't ditch the suit and tie, a big no-no. So we took him to "Zip's" for some local flavor. And he orders the chili...when he get's his chili and crackers, he makes a face, and spits it back into his bowl, and goes off on a little rant, "this ain't chili, You People, don't know what chili is...." Now we were kind of used to Him, but the very large and muscular Polynesian Dude eating his Chili-Spaghetti Plate(with two scoops rice and macaroni salad) was not amused. So Bruddah with the biceps like coconuts, and trapezius muscles like the Koolau's, walks over and tells our guest; "eh, maybe wea' you come from, dis' isn't chili, but ova hea' it is. You think if any of these guys went visit you, and nevah like the food, dey would spit 'em out at the table? How do you say it.....you was raised in one barn!" And thus the nickname, "Barn-ey" was born........ He did learn what the term "No make A" meant after that.
Back to the Chili I made, to be very clear, it's not Zippy's Chili, but I think it's pretty close to many "local" versions. The best that I can determine, it's a bit similar to Cincinnati style Chili. And many people enjoy it on top of spaghetti, or with cheese and onions on it. It isn't very spicy(though we like to add Tabasco), and uses a few different items, like ginger. As with items of iconic stature there has been much discussion as to the secret ingredient in Zippy's Chili, the items I hear the most often is Mayonnaise, and believe it or not Cream of Mushroom Soup, for this recipe I used some Mayo at the end, and it added a nice rich finish. Another item I used is the liquid drained from the canned Kidney Beans, I think the canning liquid adds great flavor, and you won't need to add any salt. But, if you suffer from a pernicious reverse post-bean reflux.......I wouldn't add to your flatulence woes by using the canning liquid, and use water instead.
Local Kine Chili
1 1/2 lb Ground beef
1/4 lb Bacon, chopped into 1/4"x1/4" cubes
2 Medium Onions, Chopped
1 C Celery, chopped
1 Large Bell Pepper, finely chopped
3 Cans Kidney beans drained, save liquid(see below)
3-4 Cans Tomato sauce
1 Can Tomato Paste
1 - 1 1/2 C Bean "liquid" or water
2 Tb Ketchup
2 Tb Red wine
2 Bay leaf
3-4 Tb Chili powder
1/2 Chicken Bullion Cube
1-2 tsp Sugar
1 Tb Oregano
1 Tb Paprika
1/4 tsp Cumin
1/4 tsp Grated Ginger
3-4 Cloves Garlic, minced
1 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1-2 Tb Mayonnaise(Best Foods or Hellman's)
1 - Brown bacon over medium heat, when the bacon starts getting crisp add the Onions,
Celery, Bell Pepper, Ginger, Pepper Flakes, and Garlic, stirring to prevent browning.
2 - Once the onion turns translucent, add the Ground Beef, and brown.
3 - When the ground beef is browned add beans, tomato sauce, tomato paste, bean liquid(start with 1 cup), beans, bullion, sugar, oregano,bay leaf, and cumin. Bring to a low boil, than reduce to a simmer.
4 - When chili has been simmering for 5-6 minutes, add in Worcestershire, chili powder(start with 2 Tb), red wine, and paprika. Let simmer for a few minutes, taste and adjust flavor.
5 - Simmer for 30 minutes, and mix in 1-2 Tb Mayonnaise.