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Onions, onions...

swenson's picture

I just wandered over here from Fine Woodworking's Knots forum and I have a question. Two days ago I was making a double batch of chili with a recipe from Clyde's Restaurant. This is their famous chili with beans that they have served here for thirty years and the same chili that Liz Taylor would order by the gallon and have shipped to her house. It called for "one pound small diced onion" which in the doubled recipe became two pounds. That about filled up the cast iron Dutch oven I was using and just looked wrong. I looked at another chili recipe and it was similar but only used two onions in place of one lb. So I pulled out about half of the chopped onions and it still looked like a lot but the finished chili was great and was just like the chili they serve in the restaurant. So now I'm not sure what to do next time I make this. It took a three pound bag of onions to make two pounds of chopped onions, not to mention the time spent chopping.  I guess I must have been frustrated 'cause there were tears in my eyes when I was done. I'm thinking it was a typo and the single batch should have read "one small diced onion."  What do you think?  I'm a woodworker, what do I know?

GretchenTHE FIRST's picture

Ummm, it CANnot take a 3# bag (post #71031, reply #1 of 3)

Ummm, it CANnot take a 3# bag of onions to make 2# of chopped onion--or you are removing too much skin and root. Anyway, it probably DID mean 1# of chopped onion.  One VERY large onion can easily weigh a pound, so just go by that the next time, would be my suggestion. The other is, that chili probably cannot have too much onion so you are good to go.

To address your underlying question, yes, recipes SHOULD be better written so to be exact in the measurements, and this particular example is one often cited. For your own edification you should measure the amount of volume (cups) this is for your next foray into the recipe.

As a reward for my answer--right or wrong!!--you REALLY should post the recipe!!  LOL

As an addendum for onion amount, Julia Child's French onion soup recipe which is my favorite calls for 3# of onions. It makes maybe a quart of finished soup.

swenson's picture

Three pound bag... (post #71031, reply #2 of 3)

The way I chop onions is the horiz cuts toward the root, the vert cuts point toward root and the final vert cuts parallel to the root.  Doing it this way I did leave much of the root end when the cuts stopped coming off diced, but my plan was to go back to the saved root ends to chop diced onion to be put raw on top of the chili along with grated cheese and sour cream... and that is what I did.

My wife found the recipe on food_and_wine_pop.cfm?Section=Recipe_Famous_Chili

swenson's picture

The recipe from Clydes (post #71031, reply #3 of 3)

(Serves Six to Eight)
Sweet and slightly hot, this saloon-style chili with beans has been a staple on Clyde's menu for thirty years. Liz Taylor would order it by the gallon and have it shipped to her house! Since we no longer offer our chili in the can at Britches clothing store, it's only fair that we give you the recipe that has been top secret for many years.

1 tbsp

vegetable oil

1 lb.

pound small diced onion

1 tbsp

minced fresh garlic

1 1/2 lbs

ground beef


25-ounce can chili beans


12-ounce jar chili sauce

2 tbsp

light chili powder

1/4 cup

dark chili powder*

2 tblsp

Worcestershire sauce

1. In a heavy bottomed pot, saute the onion and garlic in the vegetable oil until golden brown.
2. Add the beef to the onions and cook until it is about medium-rare. Do not stir the beef around too much - you want to have some large clumps of beef in the finished chili.
3. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir until it is just blended. (It may seem like a lot of powder but that's why they call it chili!)
4. Cook the chili over medium heat for about 10 minutes, just until the meat is fully cooked. Don't overcook it!

Serve the Clyde's chili with ice cold beer and condiments like shredded sharp cheddar cheese, sour cream and minced onions.

*The light chili powders have more of the hot seeds or flakes ground with the pods. By using more of the dark powder our chili is a little sweeter. If you can't find light chili powder, just using a little bit extra of the dark powder will taste great.