I’m on a mission. Casper’s chili is famous in my hometown, Springfield, Missouri, for being the best around. It is. I’ve never had any better.
The problem is that their recipe is top secret. It’s 100 years old and they’re not sharing any details. The only thing they’ve disclosed is that it contains no tomatoes or onions.
So, I need your help. I need my fellow Ozarkians to help me reverse engineer Casper’s chili recipe. My hope is that this post will find you through the power of Google and that, together, we can come up with something close to the gustatory wonder of Casper’s.
What I’ve been able to determine
As mentioned above, we’re certain Casper’s has no onions or tomatoes. Here’s what I’ve figured out through (ahem) repeated observation.
- They use regular brown beans (or so says my grandma), but the chili is heavy on meat and light on beans.
- It’s also heavy on the cumin. Other spices seem to be used sparingly, but it does have some slight heat.
- The meat is very fine and tender. I’ve tried to recreate this by boiling the meat, which does lend itself to more tender beef. The meat I’ve tried that’s higher in fat content also seems crumblier, which may be one key to getting it so fine.
- It’s thick. I’ve tried to reproduce this by adding flour and masa harina to the thicken the mix, and the flour gets it close, but lately I’m thinking they mash some of the beans. This would, theoretically, accomplish the same thing without introducing any new flavors.
- From what I’ve read, some midwestern chili joints used suet at the beginning of the process. I’m not sure if Casper’s does or not, but I do know my stomach loves the chili more than my arteries.
That’s all I’ve been able to determine. Can any other Springfield residents fill in details? Field trips to Walnut St. are appreciated.
Fame and glory await you… not to mention the jealousy of your friends when you tell them you’ve figure out the recipe.
Please leave suggestions and ideas in the comments section below.