When you hear the name Miles Davis, inevitably you think of jazz. His mournful trumpet tone changed the way we listened to music, and his fusing other influences into his own sound revolutionized the industry.
But what you most likely didn’t know is that Davis was a self-taught cook, viewing recipe creation much in the same way as music: something beautiful coming about by improvising. But above all it took practice upon practice to come up with some of the most iconic jazz standards AND new recipes. In his own autobiography, Davis discusses his foray into cooking, and as MentalFloss quotes: “I just loved food and hated going out to restaurants all the time, so I taught myself how to cook by reading books and practicing, just like you do on an instrument. I could cook most of the great French dishes—because I really liked French cooking—and all the black American dishes.”
In the jazz world, Davis is most known for his album ‘Kind of Blue.’ But in the culinary world, his take on chili is what stands out. Chili is a great canvas on which to improvise, as you can add just about anything you want to the mix, serve it over a starch, and top with something creamy and/or crunchy, if so desired. Davis continues, “But my favorite was a chili dish I called Miles’s South Side Chicago Chili Mack. I served it with spaghetti, grated cheese, and oyster crackers.”
The sad thing is Davis never memorialized this recipe in his book. However, Davis’ first wife divulged the recipe in an interview in 2007, giving the world a glimpse into Davis’ mind and what ‘South Side Chicago Chili Mack’ actually is. It sounds much like Cincinnati chili, with the stew served over noodles, but Davis swore he learned about in Chicago. Chili Mack is a relatively simple recipe with a delicious result, something that will stick to your ribs as the temperatures continue to fall. You may want to listen to Miles Davis as you prep the ingredients, then tuck into the meal while the beats and sways carry you away.
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 (or stock. Consommé is a clarified stock.)
1 drop red wine vinegar
3 lb. spaghetti
Heineken beer (optional)
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.