Saturday, January 10, 2015

Polly Bergen's Chili

I think the very first movie that I ever saw on the big screen was a Doris Day film called Move Over, Darling.  This 1963 remake of the1940 screwball comedy My Favorite Wife” (that starred Irene Dunne and Cary Grant), featured Doris Day, James Garner, and Polly Bergen. Now while I realized early on that Bergen was the interloper in this film, separating the happy Arden family, I still found her fascinating. I loved her clothes and all of the jangly jewelry that she wore (perhaps my love of her bracelets that so annoyed the judge in the film stuck with me and are partially responsible for the bracelets that I create today, who knows?). 
Scene from Move Over Darling (Jangly bracelets not visible).
 My mother was a fan of hers as well, admiring her flattering hairstyle, and emulating it for many years.  But we also liked Bergen, the down-to-earth person that we came to know through articles and talk shows. She was a fan of classic over trendy, had a realistic view of life, and a killer chili recipe that appeared in a 1977 issue of Bon Appétit  magazine, and that mother and I made for years.
Bergen passed away last September, and when she did I immediately thought of that chili. This morning, with the temperature hovering around 8, I thought it a good day to make it.

This recipe makes a lot, so I tend to cut it in half.  I use Melissa’s steamed kidney beans (as I’m sure Bergen would have had they been available when she first made this chili--grin), and because I think all chili needs just a touch of cumin, I added a teaspoon. 

Polly Bergen's Chili

6 medium onions, finely chopped
6 medium green peppers, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
Cooking oil
4 pounds ground chuck
4 (16-ounce) cans Italian-style tomatoes
4 to 6 (9-ounce) packages
Melissa’s kidney beans
2 (6-ounce) cans tomato paste
1 cup water
Salt and pepper
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
3 whole cloves
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons chili powder OR more to taste
4 drops Tabasco sauce

In a large skillet, brown onion, peppers, and garlic in oil until golden.

In a separate skillet, brown ground meat in batches. Separate meat with a fork and cook until all meat is browned. Drain off excess oil.

Place onion, green pepper, garlic and meat in a large pot. Add undrained tomatoes, kidney beans, tomato paste, water, salt and pepper to taste, vinegar, cloves, bay leaves, chili powder, cumin (if using) and Tabasco sauce.

Cover and simmer over low heat 1 hour. Add sugar to taste. Simmer uncovered for another hour. Remove cloves and bay leaves before serving.

Top with your favorite toppings.  I used shredded Pepper Jack Cheese and diced scallions.

As an alternate way to serve, Bergen suggests placing a generous scoop of chili over hot cooked rice and enjoying as a main dish.

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Linda said...

Oh I loved Polly Bergen. Seems like she was on Your Hit Parade for awhile. She had a great alto voice. Loved her hair and the big petticoats she wore. :) The chili looks fantastic.

La Table De Nana said...

I really liked her also..And I love chili and just said I should make one this wee.
Uncanny..I made date squares of my recipes..because it came from a friend's aunt who passed away in last 2 weeks.I think they know:)

Catherine said...

My mother and I were fans of Polly too. She surely was beautiful and yes she seemed quite down to earth.
The chili sounds good and I do like the added cumin. This chili over rice would make a good dish.
xo Catherine

Marigene said...

Polly Bergen was not only a great actress, but a beautiful one, too.
Wow, I see why you halved that recipe, she must have been feeding the whole movie set! To me chili isn't chili unless it has lots of cumin.
Have a wonderful weekend, Pattie.

Rattlebridge Farm said...

_Move Over, Darling_ is one of my favorite movies. Polly had a shop in Gatlinburg (gorgeous clothes) years ago. I admire her for embracing life over the empty glitz of Hollywood.I didn't know that she cooked, too. Not surprised! The chili looks delicious-and I love the handle on your bowl.

Pam @ over50feeling40 said...

Loved Polly Bergen...I would walk around my house singing WHERE THE BOYS ARE all the time...and I love chili. Fun post...thanks for sharing with the Thursday Blog Hop!

Miz Helen said...

Hi Patti,
Your Chili looks really wonderful! Thanks so much for sharing with Full Plate Thursday and have a great week.
Come Back Soon!
Miz Helen