Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Steak 'n Shake Chili

Founded in 1934 when Gus Belt of Normal, IL converted a gas station/chicken restaurant into a hamburger stand, Steak 'n Shake has become a Midwest institution.  Most widely known for their Steakburgers, a trademarked name for a hamburger that was a combination of round, sirloin, and T-bone steaks ground into burgers in full view of customers, and their "hand-dipped, real-milk" milkshakes. My first experience with a fast food hamburger came at the hand of Steak 'n Shake.  McDonald's?  Never heard of them.  Not, at least when I was 6 years old.  Steak 'n Shake was the place to be.  It continued to be "the place" when I was in high school and throngs of teenagers descended upon it on Friday nights.  This was back in the days of car hops, trays attached to partially rolled down car windows, and people visiting from car to car while chomping on a steakburger.  It was so crowded on Friday nights that getting a parking space was pure serendipity, but that didn't stop kids from "driving through Steak" to see who was there and what was going on.  Those were good, innocent times.

My boys know Steak 'n Shake like I do, but not in the same way.  By the time they were old enough for fast food the car hops were long gone and it was a dine-in restaurant.  We all continue to dine there to this day, and all look upon it favorably.  The place and food are unique, the shoestring fries, the thin, crispy-edged burgers, and chili mac keep us coming back.

So when I found this recipe for a copy cat version of the chili I couldn't wait to try it.  What an uproar it caused!  I like it just the way the recipe is written, though I will defer to my youngest son's observation that it isn't as "juicy" as the restaurant version.  I did think the taste was there, however, but he and his older brother disagreed on the taste, both of whom tackled the recipe themselves adding what they thought it needed to suit their remembrances of what it did/does/should taste like.

So give this a try and add what you like to suit your tastes.  As for me, it's perfect the way it is, and made even more so with my recent eBay score of a set of authentic chili bowls.  Does life get any better?!
Steak 'n Shake Chili

2 tablespoons oil 
1-1/2 pounds ground chuck 
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 can onion soup 
1 tablespoon chili powder 
2 teaspoons ground cumin 
1/2 teaspoon black pepper 
2 teaspoons cocoa 
2 cans kidney beans 
1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste 
1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce 
1 cup cola 

Brown ground beef and salt in oil. Put soup in blender, blend for 1 minute. Add all to Crockpot. Drain beef and beans before adding to Crockpot. Let simmer on LOW for 6 hours or on HIGH for 2 hours.

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Ott, A. said...

Looks like a tasty meal on these cool spring nights. Just stopping by from Made from Scratch Tuesday and I wanted to invite you to my Iron Chef Challenge the themed ingredient this month is baking powder. Link up a recipe and you'll have a chance to win a prize. Hope you can join in the fun!!!

Sarah said...

I lived in the midwest for a year when I was younger and loved Steak N Shake! This recipe is really different, I will have to give it a try.


This looks delicious! A few times a year, I experiment with new chili recipes. I make a lot and freeze it. Then we enjoy it several times. I will have to try it.

Unknown said...

i am always looking for chili recipes...i haven't found the perfect one yet. yours will go on the list to try for sure! thank you for sharing with tuesday night supper club!

Anonymous said...

Boy did this ever bring back memories!! As a tot in East Central Illinois my grandparents house was across the street from a Steak 'n Shake. On the nights my grandmother worked late grampa and I would have dinner at S&S, chili and a chocolate shake for me. :)
Then years later my teenaged son bussed tables at S&S. I have to say I don't think their food is as good today as it was 60yrs ago!!