Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Low Carb Knock Off of James Coney Island Chili

Baseball, Low Carb Coney Island Hot Dogs, Apple Pie and the 4th of July!

Nothing like a panic, right?

Low Carb Coney Island Chili Cheese Dogs with Dill
Relish, Onion and Mustard along with a side of
Oven Fried Green Tomatoes and Oven Fried Zucchini
makes for a patriotic 4th of July.
Seems I live life like that these days. You know, July 4th, falls on the same date each year. You can see it comin’ down the tracks like an old steam train. There’s no missing it. So how is it I forgot to give you a recipe that takes care of your 4th of July needs?

Panic ensued.

Mea culpa. I will now say 5 Our Fathers and 10 Hail Marys and I shall endeavor to keep that from happening in the future.

Because of the rush, I won’t even bother telling you a long drawn out story from my mis-spent youth, nor regail you with songs of the South. I will simply get straight to it.

Photo courtesy of Lone Star Junction. Click image to enlarge.
Chili in Texas equates to pageantry. You can’t have one without the other and call it true, bonafide, Texas Chili. Sorry. But 200 years of Chili Queens would come down on my behonkus and “haint” me if I so much as tried. Please, make no mistake. You can’t divorce the two. There is a rhythm and grace to making true Texas Chili.

And grace simply does not exist in a 30 minute or less cooking window. Yes, Rachel Ray, I said it. I speak the truth. Grace, develops with time, with love, and with attention to detail. And this brash, young upstart, carries none of that!

That is why I shall never claim this recipe to be Texas Chili, or Chili Red as Dad used to call it. It is, what it is. Or as WaWa used to say (Daddy’s mama), in true typical southern fashion, “Well, that’s just the way it is.” Translated that means, “You don’t argue with the man! Or the man will come bite you!”

This recipe is a means to an end. It’s quick. It’s easy. It gets you to the church on time. And it tastes very credible on a low carb hotdog. And what’s more American on the 4th of July than baseballs, hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet? So you see, I simply HAD to rush in here, hair on fire and post a chili recipe to get your 4th off on a positive note.

Grandaddy tending bar at the Interurban Buffet located
across the street from the old Rice Hotel on Texas Avenue.
This recipe is an outright rip off of a rip off! There’s a joint here in town – actually several joints – (The Original) James Coney Island. The original JCI was located on the ground floor of the old Beatty-West Building in downtown Houston, off Texas Avenue, not too far from our grandaddy’s (Daddy’s Dad) saloon and eatery, The Interurban Buffet, which was right across the street from the old Rice Hotel on Texas Avenue.

Grandaddy and the JCI creators knew each other. They both served a mean bowl of red (that's Chili for you non-Texans). Grandaddy had a couple of Mexican men working in the kitchen who made the chili for the Interurban Buffet and Daddy reminisced about how great it tasted, especially when served over a pile of spaghetti. He claimed it was better than James Coney Island Chili ever thought of being. I remember for most of my life, watching Dad search for chili equal to the stuff he used to eat at his dad's saloon.

The JCI creators were two Greek Boys who came down to Texas from New York. So I’m thinkin’ the James Coney Island Chili, for which they are famous, has more to do with the old Greek immigrant versions of Texas Chili found on the boardwalk of Atlantic City or in NYC, than of true-red-white-and-blue-God-bless-the-Texas-flag Texas Chili – which takes longer than 30 minutes to cook, Rachel Ray.

Today, JCI has hotdog stores all over Houston and still serves a credible coney island dog. They remain famous for their chili and native Houstonians raised on JCI dogs, have been known to order them mail order and have also been known to drive hours from their current domicile to grab a JCI fix only to turn right around and head back to Austin without callin' a single one of "the sisters" – er, wait, I mean their current domicile. (Um, sorry Bubba D, didn’t mean to out you like that, hon!)

I think JCI’s chili has changed since I was a girl, they claim it hasn’t. But they just don’t taste like they used to. However, the current JCI is “close enough for government work,” and Mama, who adored James Coney Island dogs until the day she died. It was one of her last meals.

So in the interest of time, I ripped off this recipe from Copykat Recipes! Find the original ripoff here!

Low Carb Coney Island Hot Dogs with Cheese.
Be warned, I’ve already made a few changes from the recipe at the Copykat site because how many times do I have to tell ya? I am incapable of following anyone’s recipe verbatim – even a Fluffy Chix Cook recipe!

I am gonna make this knock off recipe mainly cuz it makes little sense. That’s right. Little sense! I doubt the quantities. And my mind can't wrap around the possibility of making chili without at least one onion, let alone a bell pepper or jalapeno. I will at least sit on my hands to keep from adding the last two I mentioned, thus keeping at least a semblance of the original copykat!

See, I never measure my chili spices. Like an old Chili Queen perched in the old market streets of old San Antone, I just open magic potion bottles and pour in a handful of this, a palm of that, and turn that burner on low and slow - then sit back and have a side of patience. And besides which, I didn’t have the energy to measure and take notes in order to get you my own Quick Chili recipe today. But the quantities listed in the copycat ripoff look suspiciously light in the loafers.

It just seems like the ratios of liquid to solid are "off" and that there is just not enough spice to fully deliver a powerful bowl of Coney Island Chili.

I decided to cut the recipe in half, just in case it sucked! I used 1-1/2lbs of meat and altered the quantities based on a half recipe.

Yep! The Copykat recipe needed more spices! I doubled
the amount from the original recipe!
I think it’s gonna need a hefty infusion of more spice! But I could be wrong.

It happens.

Once in a blue moon.

Let’s try the recipe and report back here after it is done. Now some would say that is the most fool-hardy thing to do…any DSFW knows! You never make a recipe for the first time for a party! But I say, hell, girl! It’s chili – not rocket science! You add what’s called for in the recipe. If you taste and hate it? Add something else to it! Amend the recipe. Make it your biatch! Own it! That’s right. Own it! Another YOI (You Own It) recipe. And cook it for longer than 30 minutes on very low heat!

Chili is very forgiving! You’ll come out with something that will beat the crap outta Wolfe Brand Chili. I guaran-ttttteeeeee!

I’m making my version of this ripoff James Coney Island Chili tonight and will have photos up tomorrow along with the SusieT notes that go along with it! So be sure to check back in and read about the results!
Low Carb Revolutionary Hot Dog Buns ready
for the 4th of July festivities!

(July 4th UPDATE! I made the chili last night. Be sure to read Susie's Notes section to hear how I amended the Copykat recipe. The original recipe had too much water in it, too little spice and was a hot mess. But I fixed it! And the revised recipe sits below. Correct for spice and liquid content! Happy 4th of July. I will be back later to post the photos from last night's cooking adventure but wanted to get the good recipe up asap, for today!)

Don’t forget to go read about how Fluffy Chix Cook awesomely delicious Low Carb Revolutionary Hot Dog Buns. They are easy to make and perfectly low carb legal! These handy buns take only minutes to whip up and freeze very well. They will keep 1-2 weeks in your fridge and are sturdy enough to pick-up with your hands.

The low carb hotdog buns will even withstand the onslaught of coney island chili and a slather of mustard and relish! What more could you ask for? This isn't a diet, baybeeeeee. Ok it is. But low carb living is also a sustainable way of life! Ask yourself, do you feel deprived with this plateful of deliciousness staring you in the face?

I didn't think so!

Feel free to whip up a bowl of Low Carb Blackberry Buttermilk Ice Cream and get the holiday off to a great low carb start.

With a little planning, there’s no reason on the face of this earth why you can’t celebrate 4th of July AND sustain your low carb and controlled carb, paleo way of life!

Cheers and Happy 4th of July! I’m proud to be an American!

James Coney Island Chili – CopyKat Recipe
Serves – 10
Prep Time – 15 Minutes
Cooking Time – Minimum 30 minutes – 1 hour
Difficulty – Simple Simon

Final Updates as of 8:00am 7/4/12 Happy Fourth of July!
Coney Island Chili tastes great in a cup with
onions, a dollop of pickle relish, squirt of mustard,
and cup up hot dogs - or as shown with onions
cheese and sour cream.
2-1/2lbs Ground Meat (the original recipe used chopped chuck steak)
1 large Onion (my addition)
2 (10-1/2 oz) cans Beef Broth

2 cans Whole Tomatoes, pureed
2 Tbsp Paprika
4 Tbsp Chili Powder
1 Tbsp Granulated Garlic Powder
1/2 Tbsp Onion Powder
1 tsp Kosher Salt

1/4-1/2 tsp Cayenne Pepper, ground
2 tsp Black Pepper
Hot Water* 

Thickening Agent
6 Tbsp Pork Rinds (my change), (about 1/3c or 1 serving of Pork Rinds)
2 Tbsp Coconut Flour (Optional)

1- 1-1/4 c Water

In large Dutch oven or cast iron pot, brown ground meat with finely chopped onion.

Add spices to the mixture.

Over high heat, cook the spices while the meat and onions brown. You might be wonderin' why I cook outside. Well, I hate the smell that cooking food leaves in my house - cuz of asthma, so I cook most smelly stuff outside on my propane grill. I pretend it's a very hot campfire and combination oven. I also like to put my jeans and boots on and started talkin 'hick as I pretend I'm cooking chili down in Terlingua at the Chili Cookoff! ;)

Ok, the beef, onion and spices have browned off. Let's add the liquid as originally called for in the recipe and see what a mess we have!

Add beef broth.

Puree tomatoes in food processor or blender and add to the meat. The recipes tells you to strain it, but nah…Don’t believe I will.

(NOTE! Whhhhoooppppssssieeeee! And this is where it all went horribly wrong. Copykat recipes musta been smokin' rope or somethin' cuz this amount of liquid is just PLAIN WRONG. R-O-N-G! RONG! I promise. This has WAY too much liquid in the recipe. So here's my only recourse at this point. Cook the bejeesus out of the chili. The next few photos is only for demonstration purposes only. Do NOT under any circumstances, add the amount of liquid originally called for in the copykat recipe! I'm a professional. Don't try this at home! Chili is a forgiving dish, thank the Lord, but it too eleventy BAZILLION hours of slowly reducing this mess to get it anywhere near edible!)

Chili cooked at 2 hours of simmering. OMG! We're gonna be here all night. Get the low carb marshmallows and a camp stool. The singin' will commense at sun down.

Don't mind me...I'm still here, stirrin' the chili now and then. Here we are at 3 hours. Simmerin' and slowly reducing this mess. Oh, and it's time to skim the grease off this crap!

I coulda skimmed more off of it, but I let it be and went on about life. The original recipe calls for 4Tbsp of Vegetable Oil. So many things wrong with that ingredient...PUFAs, partially hydrogenated oils, and they were using cubed meat, which would need browning off in oil prior to adding the spices and liquids. If you use ground beef, there is no reason on this given earth why you would add extra oil to that and if you do, make it something like lard, tallow or olive oil for goodness sake!

This was what I was PLANNING on doing to the recipe if it had been reasonably correct for fluid volume:Simmer at least 30 minutes. I plan on cooking mine at least an hour. Remember in chili-time that’s nothin’. That IS quick! True Texas Chili is made from chunks of meat, not ground meat and cooks with real chili puree (not ground chili powder) for hours and hours!!! So say grace, and count yourself lucky!

Now here's what I would tell you to do if you use the current recipe as written here on Fluffy Chix. Add extra water to the chili sparingly! Start with the beef stock and tomato puree and go from there. How does it look to you. Is it too dry? Is it too wet? Does it look right but is it gonna burn in 15 minutes? Evaluate. Make it your own!

*If liquid in your pot evaporates too much, add small amounts of water in order to thin the chili gravy and allow it to continue cooking without scorching(burning on the bottom).

(Cooking Note: I've amended this recipe to better ratios of liquid to solids. The old recipe called from about 5-1/2 cans of water. That was too much liquid! It took over 5 hours to reduce it down to a workable consistency. So I omitted the large amounts.)

15 Minutes Prior To Serving –
Grind pork rinds in food processor or blender to the crumb stage. They will look like fine panko bread crumbs.

Mix Pork Rind Crumbs and coconut flour (if using) with water to form a smooth slurry.

Add slowly to chili, stirring constantly. Cook chili another 15 minutes or until thickened. (Do you see the level of the chili? The cooking ring, ugly as all get-out shows you how much evaporation had to occur in order to reduce it to the current level which was sufficient for thickening. It took eleventy bazillion hours to accomplish that. It was 1:30am at night! In the morning! And I was finishing this recipe.

Serve in a bowl with chopped up hot dogs in it, or make Fluffy Chix Cook Revolutionary Hot Dog Buns and eat it like a man or liberated DFSW (Delicate Flower of Southern Womanhood) as God intended. Pick the blasted Coney Island Dog up with the bun in your hands and go to town. Good night Irene!

Nutritional Information
Nutrition Facts James Coney Island Chili – Entire Recipe

Nutrition Facts James Coney Island Chili – Single Serving

SusieT Notes –
Pssst. You didn't REALLY think, I would tump a recipe on ya without leavin' a little story to go with it did you? Silly, bear.

Ok, well the "quick" little chili experiment started at 4pm yesterday afternoon and ended last night at 1:30am! Boy am I famously glad that's over with. I can honestly say, the original recipe needed a complete bombastic overhaul!!!

Where do I start? The original copykat recipe had WAY too much water for the amount of meat. So guess what happens? Yeah, your cooking time goes through the roof cuz that amount of liquid had to be reduced. And since you are cooking meat in that liquid, you can't just roll at a full boil in order to evaporate the liquid quickly. You have to allow it to do a slow simmer, which takes an enormously LONG time! Hell, I coulda butchered a steer, cut it into chunks and made my favorite Chili Red from chunks of meat quicker than I made her copykat recipe.

But the good news is, I amended the recipe and think I arrived with a pretty good result. It isn't James Coney Island. I realize now that you never see onion bits floatin' in JCI chili. So my suggestion is you either cut up your onion very small, or forget that JCI chili doesn't have pieces of visible onion in it, or maybe double your onion powder in the recipe above and omit the large onion. But me? I'd rather see the onion and know it's there, cuz I'm sorry, but CHILI has onions in it!!! It just does. There. I said it!

So yeah. I amended the recipe. And here's how I amended it. I doubled the spices called for and kept the salt about 1/2tsp because of all the sodium in the canned beef broth. I omitted the oil in the original recipe because I didn't need it. The original recipe called for cubed beef, which you would brown in the oil. Instead, I took a short cut and went the path of ground beef, so no added oil necessary.

I added a whole large onion. And I would cut out the water entirely in the copykat recipe except where the recipe calls for it in the thickening portion. I would only use water if I need to thin the chili out a little bit to let it keep cooking without burning. And that would only be in 1/2c increments at a time. Chances are you won't need it.

This isn't Texas Chili. That's for dern sure! There's not a spec of cumin, or coriander, or fresh and dried chiles in it anywhere, except in powdered form. There's no oregano. Nada. But. It does taste good. And although it doesn't taste like authentic JCI, it's pretty good and will taste very satisfying over a hot dog today.

If you use my updated copycat recipe, it will be a quick easy coney chili recipe. Use the Fluffy Chix Cook Recipe, not the copykat recipe recipe. I now recommend the amended recipe! You might even want to add a bit more spice if you like it spicy. JCI chili isn't a very spicy chili to begin with though, so I erred on the side of caution.

And be warned, cuz this fall, I'm gonna give you a couple of real life, bonafide, genuine Texas Chili Red recipes that will knock your socks off and ruin you for any other kind of chili!


  1. I forgot as well; watch me do a "save". lol This sounds wonderful, Susie. Happy 4th of July to you and your family.

    1. Hey sweetie! Happy 4th of July to you as well! I can't wait to see what you whip up, "Samantha" (a la Bewitched)! :) You remind me of the always graceful and darling Samantha on Bewitched! :) Gosh I loved that show.

      Ok, heading over to www.low-carb-news(dot)com to check out your doubtless July 4th entry!


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