As you explore San Antonio, picture moments like the one captured in Thomas Allen’s painting of 19th-century Military Plaza. Imagine market squares filled with fragrant food stands run by women, called Chili Queens, with all types of people—from vaqueros to politicians and travelers—sitting side by side at their tables and enjoying a hot “bowl of red.”
The Chili Queens introduced San Antonio’s international community of residents and travelers to chili con carne, which they had traditionally prepared at home for their families. It didn’t take long for the love of ‘chili’ to spread across the country and beyond.
Learn more about the Chili Queens in the book Chili Queen: Mi Historia by Marian L. Martinella, available at the Bolner Family Museum Store, or during your visit to the Witte in the Robert J. and Helen C. Kleberg South Texas Heritage Center.
Prepare this historical chili con carne recipe. Share your creations by posting your pictures on social media and tagging @WitteMuseum using the hashtag #WitteWhereYourAre.
From the Witte Museum Archives
* Suet can be obtained from your local butcher or substituted with ½ cup vegetable oil.
Vegetarian Adaptation: Replace suet and pork fat with ½ cup of an oil of your choice, such as vegetable oil. Substitute meat for a pound of beans and lentils. Add sweet bell peppers with the onions. You may need to adjust the cooking time, depending on whether you use dry or canned beans.
Bolner’s Fiesta Chili Queen Chili Mix Adaption: Replace the chilies and Comino seeds with 8 Tablespoons of Bolner’s Fiesta Chili Queen Chili Mix, available at the Bolner Family Museum Store. Flour is not needed as the chili mix already had a thickener in it.