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The Honorable Kay Bailey Hutchison
former United States Senator, Texas
Kay's Shadywood Showdown Chili
To Bean or Not to Bean
Did I discover the key to world peace? Judging from the attention I received, one might have thought so. But no, it was a chili contest that garnered all that attention -- and I won! I recaptured for Texas the coveted Congressional Club Chili Cook-Off championship.
Of course, every triumph brings controversy in its wake. Since the Associated Press transmitted the prize-winning chili recipe across its wire, I have been the target of numerous attacks.
As you might guess, most of the criticism aimed at the chili which I submitted focused on our use of one highly controversial ingredient. If you're a native Texan, you would immediately say ... of course ... beans! I have long been aware of the vast chasm stretching across Texas which separates the pro-beans-in-chili advocates from the anti-beans-in-chili purists. It is closely akin to the long-standing rivalry between Longhorns and Aggie fans.
I am also aware that nothing I say, nor the most ambrosia recipe which can be imagined, will move members of either faction one iota. On this subject, minds are sealed at an early age.
But there were other points of criticism aimed at our chili recipe, as well. Several commentators objected to the use of kidney rather than pinto beans. This was actually a decision based on necessity, bean selection here in Washington being limited.
(Just to illustrate the cultural differences inherent in such a contest, I point with horror to the submission by a member of Congress who shall be nameless. His recipe included pasta -- yes, that's right pasta, as in macaroni. Surely such a bizarre ingredient eclipses the bean debate entirely.)
Houston columnist Leon Hale, whom I otherwise have always admired, took issue with the inclusion of green peppers. I admit this is borderline. But surely it's an exaggeration to assert, as he did, that such ingredients add up to a "recipe for disaster."
Regardless of such debate, I am proud to have represented my state so successfully and to have returned the trophy to its rightful place: in the office of a U.S. Senator from Texas. It has been won by members of Congress from other states for five years -- now that is a scandal!!
But I will let you be the judge. My staff leader in this project, Natasha Moore, and I submit it to you for a vote. This is our story and we're stickin' to it!
Saute half the onions and peppers in 1 Tablespoon olive oil. Add salt, pepper, and garlic to taste. Brown meat separately, leaving in chunks. Drain fat. Add onion/pepper mixture to meat. Add 3 Tablespoons mole to mixture. Transfer to large pot. Add tomato sauce, 2 to 3 cans water, 3 Tablespoons chili powder. Bring to boil. Add remaining mole, if desired. Simmer one hour. Season and stir occasionally.
Saute remaining onions and peppers as above. Add to pot, along with drained beans. Add final chili powder to taste. Finish heating (about 15 minutes) and serve with favorite fixin's.
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