Big Bend resident rancher Hallie Stillwell has added her voice and favorite chili recipe to her friend Frank X. Tolbert's classic book, A Bowl of Red.
Written by the late Dallas newspaper columnist and author, A Bowl of Red is an entertaining history of the peppery cowboy cuisine. This new printing of the book is based on Tolbert's 1972 revised edition, in which he describes the founding of the World Championship Chili Cookoff, now held annually in the ghost town of Terlingua, Texas.
Hallie Stillwell was one of the three judges at the first Terlingua cookoff, held in 1967. "We were blindfolded to sample the chili," the ninety-six-year-old writer/rancher says in her foreword. She voted for one of the milder concoctions; another judge cast his vote for a hotter version. The third judge, who was mayor of Terlingua, sampled each pot but then pronounced his taste buds paralyzed and declared the contest a tie. There's been a "rematch" in Terlingua every November since then. "I have never failed to attend," Stillwell says.
Stillwell's recipe for lean venison chili is her favorite, one she prepared in large quantities for the hungry hands at the Stillwell Ranch in the Big Bend. This new printing of the classic also features an index to other recipes in the book, such as "Beto's prison chili" and chili verde con carne (green chili). The book also includes Tolbert's tales of searching out the best cooks of Southwestern specialties like rattlesnake "stew" and jalape�o corn bread.