While visiting the home site, we stopped for lunch in the only restaurant in Plymouth Notch. It is called the Wilder House and while the manager and employees were grumpy Vermonners, the grub was good. Don’t expect a friendly welcome but the food is prepared with love and care. We sat at the counter and tried the chili with a side garden salad and it was one of the best meals we ate including some of our gourmet restaurant meals that cost a lot more. Sometimes simple is better. We also split a maple cider donut which are baked and made with hard cider. Here is a recipe to try.
The cook wasn’t in the mood to share her chili recipe but she smiled a bit when I guessed the secret ingredient was cinnamon and complimented her on her recipe. I think this version below is very close and can’t wait for the temperatures to dip a bit in Texas for RM and I to try this version out. We will call it Calvin Coolidge Chili in memory of our day spent traipsing about on his old homestead. His grave is located here too along with a nice museum. I purchased the biography, Coolidge, by Amity Shlaes, and read it on the plane ride back home and learned a few fresh kernels of 1920’s American history and gained a little more insight into the making of a true Vermonner.
Calvin Coolidge Chili
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 3 medium onions, chopped
- 6 garlic cloves, chopped
- Coarse salt and ground pepper
- 1 can (6 ounces) tomato paste
- 3 tablespoons chili powder
- 2 tablespoons chopped canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 3 pounds ground beef chuck (you substitute turkey, bison, tofu crumbles or chicken too)
- 3 cans (14.5 ounces each) diced tomatoes in juice
- 1 bottle (12 ounces) mild lager beer – Vermonners love their Heady Topper
- 2 cans (14.5 ounces each) kidney beans, rinsed and drained
- Shredded cheddar cheese (optional)
- Oyster crackers (required)
In a Dutch oven or large (5-quart) heavy pot, heat oil over medium-high. Add onions and garlic. Season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 3 to 5 minutes.
Add tomato paste, chili powder, chipotles, and cinnamon. Cook, stirring, until mixture has begun to brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Add beef, and cook, breaking it up with a spoon until no longer pink, about 5 minutes.
Add tomatoes with their juice, beer, and beans. Bring to a boil, and reduce to a rapid simmer. Cook over medium heat until chili has thickened slightly and beans are tender, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with cheese, if desired.