Miles Davis’ Chili Recipe Revealed

Image by Tom Palum­bo, via Wiki­me­dia Com­mons

No one cooked on the trum­pet like Miles Davis. And, as it turns out, he was also quite good in the kitchen (see? I spared you a pun). Tired of going out to restau­rants, the food­ie Davis decid­ed to learn to make his favorite dish­es. “I taught myself how to cook by read­ing books and prac­tic­ing, just like you do on an instru­ment,” he wrote in his auto­bi­og­ra­phy, “I could cook most of the French dishes—because I real­ly liked French cooking—and all the black Amer­i­can dish­es.”

Davis, writes the Chica­go Sun-Times, “knew how to sim­mer with soul […] He made chili, Ital­ian veal chops and he fried fish in a secret bat­ter.” Davis’ cook­book has dis­ap­peared, and he’s appar­ent­ly tak­en his recipe secrets to the grave with him. All but one—his favorite, “a chili dish,” he writes, “I called Miles’s South Side Chica­go Chili Mack. I served it with spaghet­ti, grat­ed cheese, and oys­ter crack­ers.”

While Davis didn’t exact­ly spell out the ingre­di­ents or instruc­tions for his beloved chili in his mem­oir, his first wife Frances, whom Davis trust­ed implic­it­ly with the chili mak­ing, sub­mit­ted the fol­low­ing to Best Life mag­a­zine in 2007. While you’re prep­ping, I rec­om­mend you put on 1956’s Cookin’ With the Miles Davis Quin­tet.

Miles’s South Side Chica­go Chili Mack (Serves 6)

1/4 lb. suet (beef fat)
1 large onion
1 lb. ground beef
1/2 lb. ground veal
1/2 lb. ground pork
salt and pep­per
2 tsp. gar­lic pow­der
1 tsp. chili pow­der
1 tsp. cumin seed
2 cans kid­ney beans, drained
1 can beef con­som­mé
1 drop red wine vine­gar
3 lb. spaghet­ti
parme­san cheese
oys­ter crack­ers
Heineken beer

1. Melt suet in large heavy pot until liq­uid fat is about an inch high. Remove sol­id pieces of suet from pot and dis­card.
2. In same pot, sauté onion.
3. Com­bine meats in bowl; sea­son with salt, pep­per, gar­lic pow­der, chili pow­der, and cumin.
4. In anoth­er bowl, sea­son kid­ney beans with salt and pep­per.
5. Add meat to onions; sauté until brown.
6. Add kid­ney beans, con­som­mé, and vine­gar; sim­mer for about an hour, stir­ring occa­sion­al­ly.
7. Add more sea­son­ings to taste, if desired.
8. Cook spaghet­ti accord­ing to pack­age direc­tions, and then divide among six plates.
9. Spoon meat mix­ture over each plate of spaghet­ti.
10. Top with Parme­san and serve oys­ter crack­ers on the side.
11. Open a Heineken.

Men­tal Floss, who bring us the above, also cites anoth­er recipe Davis learned from his father, quot­ed by John Szwed in So What: The Life of Miles Davis. This one comes with no instruc­tions, so “like a jazz musi­cian, you’ll have impro­vise.”

bacon grease
3 large cloves of gar­lic
1 green, 1 red pep­per
2 pounds ground lean chuck
2 tea­spoons cumin
1/2 jar of mus­tard
1/2 shot glass of vine­gar
2 tea­spoons of chili pow­der
dash­es of salt and pep­per
pin­to or kid­ney beans
1 can of toma­toes
1 can of beef broth

serve over lin­guine

Dig it, man.

via Men­tal Floss

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Leo Tolstoy’s Fam­i­ly Recipe for Mac­a­roni and Cheese

1967 Cook­book Fea­tures Recipes by the Rolling Stones, Simon & Gar­funkel, Bar­bra Streisand & More

Ernest Hemingway’s Sum­mer Camp­ing Recipes

Alice B. Tok­las Reads Her Famous Recipe for Hashish Fudge (1963)

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

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