Zephyr Wright’s Chili Con Queso Recipe

This November will mark four years since we threw our famous “Let Us Now Praise Texas Women” restaurant pop up. We celebrated the women folk of Lone Star by cooking recipes authored by Lisa Fain, Helen Corbitt, Sylvia Casares, Lady Bird Johnson, Mary Faulk Koock and LBJ’s cook Zephyr Wright.

During the ramp-up to the event we penned a little historical piece on Ms Wright, and recently during a deep dive on chili con queso we stumbled upon the fabled cook’s recipe.

Zephyr Wright’s Chili Con Queso Recipe (a favorite of LBJ)

Chili con Queso
1 No. 2 can tomatoes
1 large onion chopped fine
1 bud garlic chopped fine
1 tsp. salt
4 tbsp. chili powder
1 tbsp, powdered comino seed
1 tsp. oregano
1 lb. aged cheddar cheese
Simmer all this except cheese slowly for about 2 hours, covered, stirring often. Uncover, turn heat up high and stir constantly until all fluid is gone and you have a thick paste. This paste can be frozen. If so, set out to thaw a couple of hours ahead allowing for about 30 minutes in a double boiler before serving time. Add to it, in double boiler, 1 pound best aged cheddar cheese cut up in chunks.

Cover and let stand over water that is simmering, not boiling, as boiling water tends to make cheese stringy. Stir occasionally to mix well. Taste and add salt if needed.

Serve in a chafing dish with large size fritos if desired, but tortillas quartered and fried in deep fat are better.

Then-White House Executive Chef René Verdon was a foil to Wright and once referred to this dish as “chili con-crete”

Of course if we had to choose between sitting down to a table of food authored by Verdon or Wright we’d take the latter every single time. But we’re simple people who like working with our hands and always prefer a good bowl of chili over quenelles de brochet or similar nonsense.

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