Here is Sam's recipe for good ol' café chili. Note the extreme amount of cumin. Interestingly enough, in the version of this recipe which appeared in Texas Home Cooking, the amount of cumin mysteriously was doubled. Could Sam be addicted to cumin? Sam is also the author of Avenida Juarez, a novel which has to be read to be believed.
The recipe is in Sam’s words, unedited.
1 pound fatty bacon
2 pounds coarse beef, extra large grind
½ cup whole cominos (cumin seed--yes, one-half cup!)
½ cup pure ground New Mexican red chile
1 teaspoon cayenne
Salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste
Render grease from the bacon; eat a bacon sandwich while the chili cooks. (Good chili takes time.)
Saute the ground beef in bacon grease over medium heat. Add the cominos and then begin adding the red chile until what you are cooking smells like chili. (This is the critical point. If you add all the spices at once, there is no leeway for personal tastes.) Let the mixture cook a bit between additions and don't feel compelled to use all of the red chile.
Add water in small batches to avoid sticking, and more later for a soupier chili. Slowly add the cayenne powder until smoke curls your eyelashes. Palefaces may find that the red chile alone has enough heat.
Simmer the mixture until the cook can't resist ladling a bowlful for sampling. Skim the excess fat for dietetic chili, or mix the grease with a small amount of cornmeal for a thicker chili.
Finish with salt, pepper, and garlic powder to individual taste, paprika to darken. Continue simmering until served; continue re-heating until gone. (As with wine, time enobles good chili and exposes bad.)
The result should be something like old time Texas café chili: a rich, red, heavily cominesque concoction with enough liquid to welcome crackers, some chewy chunks of meat thoroughly permeated by the distinctive spices, and an aroma calculated to lure strangers to the kitchen door.
Variation: For cook-off contest chili, drink bad tequila two days before starting the chili; burn mixture frequently; sprinkle occasionally with sand and blood; serve cold to a dozen other drunks and call them "judges"; and keep telling yourself you're having a great time.