Helpful ReplyHot!Ben's Chili Bowl in D.C. chili recipe

Post
tdj_tx
Cheeseburger
2011/05/25 17:18:14
Does anyone have a recipe for making the chili at Ben's Chili Bowl in Washington D.C.?
If not how about some in-sight, is it spicy, is it thick. I watched an episode of Man vs. Food and Adam was there for the chili dog, it looked really good.
tdj_tx
Cheeseburger
Re:Ben's Chili Bowl in D.C. chili recipe 2011/05/25 17:40:02
Here is one I found on yahoo answers, can't attribute it to anyone specific it was the "Best Answer" from yahoo voters. The person asking mentioned that she thought the ground beef was boiled before adding the rest of the ingredients.
 
INGREDIENTS:
3 to 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 lbs ground beef (or use half ground pork)
2 medium garlic cloves, finely minced
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cups beef broth
5 Tbsp. chili powder
6 Tbsp. corn meal or masa harina
2 tsp. sugar
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 bay leaves
PREPARATION:
Heat oil and saute garlic and onion until light golden, about 7 to 9 minutes. Add chili powder, sugar and cumin. Continue cooking, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Add ground beef and cook, stirring, until evenly browned. Stir in remaining ingredients; reduce heat to low and simmer until very thick, 15 to 20 minutes. Discard bay leaf. Makes about 20 servings of hot dog chili on chili dogs.
Twinwillow
Sirloin
Re:Ben's Chili Bowl in D.C. chili recipe 2011/05/25 19:26:35
The above recipe looks real good but, I've never been to Ben's Chili Bowl and I'd love to have their chili recipe if anyone has it.
tdj_tx
Cheeseburger
Re:Ben's Chili Bowl in D.C. chili recipe 2011/05/26 17:18:16
Twinwillow

The above recipe looks real good but, I've never been to Ben's Chili Bowl and I'd love to have their chili recipe if anyone has it.

I'm working on a clone right now. So far it tastes really good, not having had the original I can't say how close it is. If anything I've come up with a really tasty new chili dog sauce. I'll post the complete recipe this weekend after I make some dogs tomorrow night, I like for chili to refrigerate over night to let the flavors really develop. It's a very interesting recipe, I did notice that one of the ingredients is curry powder.
Enough said.
Twinwillow
Sirloin
Re:Ben's Chili Bowl in D.C. chili recipe 2011/05/26 17:45:56
I'll look for your recipe when posted. Thanks.
Root-Beer Man
Double Cheeseburger
Re:Ben's Chili Bowl in D.C. chili recipe 2011/05/26 20:04:10
The episode of Man v. Food has a couple of clues, but not much. It looks like they have a touch of curry powder, as well as dehydrated onions.
 
http://www.youtube.com/wa...Ts&feature=related
tdj_tx
Cheeseburger
Re:Ben's Chili Bowl in D.C. chili recipe 2011/05/26 20:24:00
 
Root-Beer Man

The episode of Man v. Food has a couple of clues, but not much. It looks like they have a touch of curry powder, as well as dehydrated onions.

http://www.youtube.com/wa...Ts&feature=related

Yea, I picked up on those clues. I was going to wait to post this until I've had it on a hot dog, but here's what I have so far. It tastes really good. Can't wait to try it out on some dogs.
 
Ben's Chili Bowl chili clone
by Tom Jones 2011

INGREDIENTS:

1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tbsp dehydrated onion
2 tsp beef bouilion powder
2 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp paprika
1/2 tsp curry powder
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp ground cumin
2 tbsp Masa Harina

1 bay leaf
2 tbsp tomato paste
3 cups water

1 lb ground beef (80/20)


PREPARATION:
Mix the first 9 ingredients together in a bowl. Put the ground beef in a pot with the
water. Stir the beef and water to break up the beef into very fine bits, add the dry
ingredients the bay leaf and tomato paste, stir to combine well. Bring to a boil and
simmer on low for 50 minutes.
 
 
Twinwillow
Sirloin
Re:Ben's Chili Bowl in D.C. chili recipe 2011/05/26 20:35:02
Trinidad, eh. I'll bet there's some allspice in it as well. Ya think?
tdj_tx
Cheeseburger
Re:Ben's Chili Bowl in D.C. chili recipe 2011/05/26 20:41:05
Twinwillow

Trinidad, eh. I'll bet there's some allspice in it as well. Ya think?

Could be. This is just a start, it took me several years of experimenting to uncover the secrets to Texas Hot Weiner sauce that's found in the Mid-Hudson Valley. Like I said, I've never tasted the chili. I'm hoping someone who has had it could provide some input on the flavors.
MiamiDon
Filet Mignon
Re:Ben's Chili Bowl in D.C. chili recipe 2011/05/27 06:40:18
Probably a good place to ask is in Recipes and Cooking Techniques.
tdj_tx
Cheeseburger
Re:Ben's Chili Bowl in D.C. chili recipe 2011/05/27 14:31:28
I did some more research, although allspice is one of the main ingredients of Jamaican Jerk recipes it doesn't seem to be widely used in Trinidad. They seem to be big fans of curry though.
Re:Ben's Chili Bowl in D.C. chili recipe 2011/05/27 17:26:53
tdj_tx

 
Root-Beer Man

The episode of Man v. Food has a couple of clues, but not much. It looks like they have a touch of curry powder, as well as dehydrated onions.

http://www.youtube.com/wa...Ts&feature=related

Yea, I picked up on those clues. I was going to wait to post this until I've had it on a hot dog, but here's what I have so far. It tastes really good. Can't wait to try it out on some dogs.

Ben's Chili Bowl chili clone
by Tom Jones 2011

INGREDIENTS:

1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tbsp dehydrated onion
2 tsp beef bouilion powder
2 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp paprika
1/2 tsp curry powder
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp ground cumin
2 tbsp Masa Harina

1 bay leaf
2 tbsp tomato paste
3 cups water

1 lb ground beef (80/20)


PREPARATION:
Mix the first 9 ingredients together in a bowl. Put the ground beef in a pot with the
water. Stir the beef and water to break up the beef into very fine bits, add the dry
ingredients the bay leaf and tomato paste, stir to combine well. Bring to a boil and
simmer on low for 50 minutes.




I'll bet no curry, cayenne instead, Oregano, no Masa Harina, granulated black pepper, no bay leaf, no water, I don't care what the clip shows, beef broth.
tdj_tx
Cheeseburger
Re:Ben's Chili Bowl in D.C. chili recipe 2011/05/27 17:44:16
chewingthefat


I'll bet no curry, cayenne instead, Oregano, no Masa Harina, granulated black pepper, no bay leaf, no water, I don't care what the clip shows, beef broth.

Why would you say no curry, Adam said he could smell it. Cayenne doesn't smell like curry but there could be cayenne in the mix. The originator of this chili was from Trinidad and curry is widely used there, it just makes sense that he would add it to his recipe. The clip shows only water was used but it would be my guess that beef bouillon powder is in there. I can't comment on the original chili, haven't had it, but the chili sauce I made tastes really good. Having chili dogs tonight, we'll see how the whole thing comes together.
tdj_tx
Cheeseburger
Re:Ben's Chili Bowl in D.C. chili recipe 2011/05/27 20:05:04
Ok, the proof is in the tasting and they tasted fantastic. Not sure how close it comes the original but it's a really good sauce none the less.
tdj_tx
Cheeseburger
Re:Ben's Chili Bowl in D.C. chili recipe 2011/05/27 20:07:23
... and yes there is a hot dog in there. A grilled Nathan's all beef, classic yellow mustard, minced onion and a huge amount of chili. You could taste the curry but it wasn't over powering. Might add some cayenne next time just to give it more kick.
Re:Ben's Chili Bowl in D.C. chili recipe 2011/05/28 16:53:05
tdj_tx

chewingthefat


I'll bet no curry, cayenne instead, Oregano, no Masa Harina, granulated black pepper, no bay leaf, no water, I don't care what the clip shows, beef broth.

Why would you say no curry, Adam said he could smell it. Cayenne doesn't smell like curry but there could be cayenne in the mix. The originator of this chili was from Trinidad and curry is widely used there, it just makes sense that he would add it to his recipe. The clip shows only water was used but it would be my guess that beef bouillon powder is in there. I can't comment on the original chili, haven't had it, but the chili sauce I made tastes really good. Having chili dogs tonight, we'll see how the whole thing comes together.

Because I very recently ate the 1/2 smokes at Bens, I didn't taste any curry, I could be wrong, but who knows?

tdj_tx
Cheeseburger
Re:Ben's Chili Bowl in D.C. chili recipe 2011/05/29 15:00:49
chewingthefat

tdj_tx

chewingthefat


I'll bet no curry, cayenne instead, Oregano, no Masa Harina, granulated black pepper, no bay leaf, no water, I don't care what the clip shows, beef broth.

Why would you say no curry, Adam said he could smell it. Cayenne doesn't smell like curry but there could be cayenne in the mix. The originator of this chili was from Trinidad and curry is widely used there, it just makes sense that he would add it to his recipe. The clip shows only water was used but it would be my guess that beef bouillon powder is in there. I can't comment on the original chili, haven't had it, but the chili sauce I made tastes really good. Having chili dogs tonight, we'll see how the whole thing comes together.

Because I very recently ate the 1/2 smokes at Bens, I didn't taste any curry, I could be wrong, but who knows?

The curry taste is pretty mild, but it gives it an very good flavor. It would be easier to smell it in the dry mix. We had this sauce the other night, can't say how close it is to Ben's but it was really tasty. Try making it an let us know.
Twinwillow
Sirloin
Re:Ben's Chili Bowl in D.C. chili recipe 2011/05/29 17:10:14
Does anyone think there's any cinnamon in the recipe?
Twinwillow
Sirloin
Re:Ben's Chili Bowl in D.C. chili recipe 2011/05/29 17:11:27
tdj_tx

Ok, the proof is in the tasting and they tasted fantastic. Not sure how close it comes the original but it's a really good sauce none the less.

Triple yummo!
 
tdj_tx
Cheeseburger
Re:Ben's Chili Bowl in D.C. chili recipe 2011/05/29 17:19:45
Twinwillow

Does anyone think there's any cinnamon in the recipe?

Could be, if I tasted it I could tell. You can order it from them online but it's over $50. Don't think I'm that committed, anyway this is a really good chili dog sauce even if it's not the original.
Re:Ben's Chili Bowl in D.C. chili recipe 2011/05/29 17:29:17
tdj_tx

Ok, the proof is in the tasting and they tasted fantastic. Not sure how close it comes the original but it's a really good sauce none the less.


Looks good, your sauce is far less red than Ben's, if you used curry that would explain it and also why I don't believe they use it as I first mentioned, as curry tends to brown a red...In any case it does look real good! Ya got a half smoke under there?
post edited by chewingthefat - 2011/05/29 17:30:49
tdj_tx
Cheeseburger
Re:Ben's Chili Bowl in D.C. chili recipe 2011/05/29 17:43:50
chewingthefat

Looks good, your sauce is far less red than Ben's, if you used curry that would explain it and also why I don't believe they use it as I first mentioned, as curry tends to brown a red...In any case it does look real good! Ya got a half smoke under there?

Yea, you are right it doesn't look as red. Curry is a pretty generic term, I just used a curry powder that I had in the pantry. I added some sweet paprika thinking that would redden it up more. It's a work in progress. No half smoke, they seem to be a local D.C. thing. I used my fav Nathan's all beef.
tdj_tx
Cheeseburger
Re:Ben's Chili Bowl in D.C. chili recipe 2011/06/07 18:21:35
Here is the closest thing I could find in Texas to a half smoke. It's Hillshire Farms smoked bratwurst, it's a smoked beef and pork sausage. It was pretty good, nice snap to the casing, very mild smoke flavor. It has a coarser texture than a hot dog but not as coarse as a sausage. The next step is to try it with the sauce, which I froze the leftovers.
tdj_tx
Cheeseburger
Re:Ben's Chili Bowl in D.C. chili recipe 2011/06/15 19:00:34
This experiment will come to an end tonight. I have the sauce, which I froze the leftovers, and the Hillshire Farms smoked brats. I will now be as close as I can get to a half smoke from Ben's Chili Bowl.
MetroplexJim
Sirloin
Re:Ben's Chili Bowl in D.C. chili recipe 2011/06/15 22:01:24
Let's keep it simple:
 
1 can Wolf's Brand Chili for Hot Dogs
Add cinnamon and sugar to taste.
tdj_tx
Cheeseburger
Re:Ben's Chili Bowl in D.C. chili recipe 2011/06/17 11:34:30
MetroplexJim

Let's keep it simple:

1 can Wolf's Brand Chili for Hot Dogs
Add cinnamon and sugar to taste.

I doubt that tastes like Ben's Chili Bowl chili.
ann peeples
Sirloin
Re:Ben's Chili Bowl in D.C. chili recipe 2011/06/17 12:51:48
Bob and I had a Hillshire Farms "polish" the other night. Found it fatty -yuck. Didnt finish  it.
MetroplexJim
Sirloin
Re:Ben's Chili Bowl in D.C. chili recipe 2011/06/18 10:25:57
tdj_tx

MetroplexJim

Let's keep it simple:

1 can Wolf's Brand Chili for Hot Dogs
Add cinnamon and sugar to taste.

I doubt that tastes like Ben's Chili Bowl chili.

 
Actually, I was not kidding.

gamefish42
Junior Burger
Re:Ben's Chili Bowl in D.C. chili recipe 2012/07/30 10:47:24
I just returned from  spending the weekend in the DC area on July 30, 2012.  The first place I went last Thursday with family was to Ben's to see if their chili was better than mine.  You see I am from upstate South Carolina and we have been making great hot dog chili since I can remember as far back as the early 1960s.  What I noted last week was that Ben's chili was quite hot and very thick when compared to what I call Carolina Hot Dog Chili. I have also watched the Man vs. Food show.  Ben does add tomato paste and a thicker.  Like Carolina Chili, the raw hamburger meat was put into a deep pot and covered with water before cooking.  I put just enough water to cover the meat by 1/4 - 12 inch.  Be sure to break up all the meat in the pot am make a pink slurry before adding the dry ingredients.  When I cook my chili, I put at least 3-5 Tbsp. of chili powder.  It never gets my chili to the level of heat that Ben's has.  They must be adding an unknown chili spice to get the added heat. I use powdered garlic and onion to taste where they use fresh garlic and onions.  I add a little salt but no thickener or sugar or other spices.  Carolina chili is just meat, water, chili powder, onion and garlic salt and a dash of table salt.  You boil the entire mixture until almost all the water is gone.  Also, the fattier the meat the better. Lean meat does not make the best hot dog chili.  A typical Carolina hot dog is just the bun, the hot dog, yellow mustard, chopped onions, and Carolina chili.  If want to go exotic, then add cole slaw. But that it in a nut shell. 
CCinNJ
Sirloin
Re:Ben's Chili Bowl in D.C. chili recipe 2012/07/30 10:58:52
The difficult part of cracking a recipe code that includes curry is that it's a blend of various spices...from one brand or recipe for homemade blend to another with proportions within the curry mix being a factor as well.
CCinNJ
Sirloin
Re:Ben's Chili Bowl in D.C. chili recipe 2012/07/30 13:00:26
The color of Ben's looks as though it might have achiote oil or paste. Annato is an ingredient found in Trinidad. It would provide that color without increasing the heat level.
CCinNJ
Sirloin
Re:Ben's Chili Bowl in D.C. chili recipe 2012/07/30 13:04:37
That very deep color (without any addition of heat) could be from using achiote oil or paste. Annatto is found in Trinidad.
robc0811
Junior Burger
Re:Ben's Chili Bowl in D.C. chili recipe 2013/07/28 12:34:08
The chili was great, but the Half Smokes were the straight up bomb!  I found out you can order them from the site!  Now you guys have given me some great ideas for the chili.  I will be spending a lot of time in the gym!
CajunKing
Sirloin
Re:Ben's Chili Bowl in D.C. chili recipe 2013/07/28 15:40:17
robc0811

The chili was great, but the Half Smokes were the straight up bomb!  I found out you can order them from the site!  Now you guys have given me some great ideas for the chili.  I will be spending a lot of time in the gym!

 
That is a problem about this site, you will need a gym membership after a while. 
RexTee
Junior Burger
☄ Helpfulby Twinwillow 2016/07/31 21:04:53
A few thoughts and suggestions about the Ben's recipe 2016/07/31 18:45:47
Greetings:
 
I am new to the forums and just had my first taste of Ben's earlier this week. That chili is paradoxical, because one's first reaction might be "this is good, but not great." But soon after you're done eating, it becomes a craving, and if you are a serially unhinged cook like me, you gotsta try to nail that recipe. So I did try as soon as I got back from my trip (I live in New Jersey) with the taste still relatively fresh in my mind/mouth.
 
The thing that stands out for me is that there was no prominent cumin taste, which is common in many American styles. The other two elements were the consistency which seemed pretty obviously to have been achieved with some kind of thickening agent, and the vinegar finish.
 
Yeah, I watched that Adam Richman video and that was of some help but not much. You can assume that ground beef, water, tomato paste and whatever is in that magic bag are part of the whole brew, but no establishment of this kind will give out the true recipe.
 
Reading the comments and speculation about the recipe in this thread prompts me to suggest making a few assumptions about it. Ben's opened almost 60 years ago and the chili is supposedly (and probably) the same as it was on day one, or very close to it. Let's think about just what ingredients were available and cost effective for anyone opening a modest cafe in 1958. There was curry powder around, but it was hard to find and certainly not a cost-effective food service staple. And to this day there is an unfortunately significant portion of the eating population that "doesn't like curry." There was no smoked paprika, not much variety in chiles (most of the Mexicans in D.C. at the time would have been at the Mexican embassy), and not not many of the ingredients that we take for granted today. Achiote (annato) is indeed deep red in seed form, but it is universally rendered in oil, the oil turning yellow and then used to give a yellow (and not red) color to rice, stews and other preparations. It does not produce a red color any way you use it.
 
So with this in mind, and the chili itself still fresh on my palate, I made some stuff which I believe is close. I don't have a sample of Ben's as a control, but what I made seems to be in the ballpark, and not the one the Nationals play in. I cant give you precise measurements, but here is what I did:
 
I started with about two pounds of ground beef, and immersed it in water As Seen On TV.
 
Then I added:
  • Cheap commercial chili powder, the kind that is darkish red and has powdered garlic, powdered onion, powdered cumin and maybe powdered oregano. I added about 4 tablespoons of this.
  • Dehydrated onions, just enough to cover the surface of the pot.
  • Lots of fine ground black pepper from a container (black pepper is used in great quantities in West Indian cooking)
  • Tomato paste
  • Some powdered allspice (I detected this as a possible "curryish" mystery taste-but who knows? Allspice is a universal ingredient in the cuisine of the West Indies, where it is called "pimento.")
  • Some Kitchen Bouquet or Gravy Master. Both these products are Americanized versions of the caramelized sugar that  is called "browning," another ingredient ubiquitously used in stews and hotpots in every style of West Indian cuisine from Trinidad to Jamaica. KB has been available since 1873, and for a Trinidadian chef in the U.S. in the 50's it would have most likely been the best "browning" substitute.  I believe this is an essential component of the color of Ben's chili.
  • Some paprika
  • Some cayenne.
  • Some white vinegar.
  • Some bullion powder.
  • Salt.
Cooked this down for about 2 hours, and at the end I added a tablespoon of cornstarch dissolved in a little water, and cooked that in for a minute or two. Then I let it sit.
 
Hey, do I know if it's the real deal? Heck no. But it looks like it and tastes close to what I remember and I just wish I had some of dem half-smokes which seem to be as impossible to find as foie gras at a PETA convention.
 
Hope this is of help.
 
Cheers.
 
Rex
 
 
post edited by RexTee - 2016/07/31 19:01:48
Ralph Melton
Double Chili Cheeseburger
Re: A few thoughts and suggestions about the Ben's recipe 2016/08/02 17:31:10
RexTree, that's a splendid first post. Welcome to Roadfood!