Johnny Cash’s 1-Ingredient Upgrade to Chili Is the Only Way I'll Make It Now

It's as genius as his iconic songs.

<p>Sara Haas</p>

Sara Haas

When the name Johnny Cash comes up, I don’t immediately think "chili." I think of songs like “Ring of Fire” or “I Walk the Line,” which eventually get stuck in my head for the rest of the day. But Cash liked to cook, and one of his specialties was chili. What made his chili different? He swapped sirloin steak for ground beef, and it’s a delicious upgrade you should try.

A Bit of Cash’s Chili Backstory

Cash and his wife June were both big cooks according to their son, John Cash. They were known for filling the family table with Southern classics like sausage gravy and cheese grits and inviting celebrity guests over to enjoy them. John Cash compiled these recipes into a cookbook, "The Cash and Carter Family Cookbook: Recipes and Recollections from Johnny and June's Table," which was released in 2018. One of the recipes was Johnny Cash’s "Old Iron Pot" Chili—which was also published in the 1992 "USO Celebrity Cookbook" and is available on the USO website.

How to Make Johnny Cash’s 'Old Iron Pot' Chili

No need to grab an iron pot, any large pot will do. Set it over medium heat and add the oil. Once it’s hot, add the meat, a packet of chili seasoning, a bit of chili con carne seasoning, chili powder, and cumin, and cook for 5 minutes. Next, add a chopped white onion, a small can of whole tomatoes, 1/3 of a can of tomato paste, a small can of diced chiles, as well as some garlic powder, onion powder, sage, thyme, kidney beans, and sugar. Let it cook for 20 minutes and then season with salt and pepper.

Why Use Sirloin Steak In Chili?

Ground beef is the obvious choice for chili, but thanks to Cash’s swap of sirloin steak, the soup instantly becomes a show-stopper. The large cuts of steak amp up the beefy flavor of the chili, making it feel rich and satisfying. Adding layers of spices and dried herbs also ensures the chili is perfectly seasoned. Overall, it’s a fantastic chili recipe, but it does come with a cost. Unlike ground beef, sirloin steak can be expensive. To achieve similar results, get the steak, but only half the amount, and make up the difference with ground beef.

Tips to Making Johnny Cash’s Chili With Sirloin Steak

<p>Sara Haas</p>

Sara Haas

It's simple to recreate Johnny's chili for yourself, here are a few helpful tips to make it even easier:

  1. Have the butcher cut the sirloin for you: This is the most labor-intensive step, so if you can take it off your hands, you’ll save time in the kitchen. Many butchers are happy to do this for you, just ask!

  2. Use a 28-ounce can of tomatoes: The recipe calls for a 14-ounce can of whole tomatoes, but doubling that amount creates bigger tomato flavor. It also gives the spices a place to do their work while simmering. You’ll get a bolder bowl of chili this way.

  3. Squeeze the tomatoes: Before you add those whole tomatoes, give them a squeeze to break them apart. If the thought of squeezing them isn’t appealing, transfer them to a cutting board and give them a rough chop.

  4. Cook meat in batches: To get a good sear on the steak, do it in batches. Add half the oil, then half of the meat. Cook until browned then remove and repeat the process with the remaining oil and steak.

  5. Sauté the onions and bloom the spices: After searing the meat, I suggest you cook the onions. After they’ve softened (about 3 to 5 minutes), add the spices and let them cook for a few minutes before adding the meat back in along with the rest of the ingredients. This is how you really build flavor.

  6. Let it simmer: The recipe suggests a 20-minute simmer, but it turns out Cash would simmer his chili for hours, which I agree is a good move. If you have the time, set the pot over low, cover it, and let it cook for at least 1 1/2 to 2 hours. This allows the beef to become ultra-tender and the flavor to develop. You can also transfer the chili to a slow cooker. Set it to Low and let it do all the work for you.

Read the original article on All Recipes.