MAFIA CHILI

In the ‘60’s, if you were invited over to Mob Boss Carlo Gambino’s home for Superbowl Sunday, you got to sample his famous MAFIA CHILI. Of course Carlo never called it that – but that’s the name which gave it legendary status for over 40-years.

I have the “official recipe” for the dish and it’s pretty remarkable stuff. How’d I get it? I can’t tell you exactly but you should know that there were hundreds of people invited to Carlo’s home over the years and very few of them had names like “Broken Nose,” “Four Fingers,” or “Picky.”

Carlo lived quietly in an upscale New York neighborhood with his wife and children. He would have been repulsed by the flashy Don – John Gotti – and horrified to learn that Gotti took over his family when Gambino’s cousin and successor, Paul Castellano, was late for his reservation because he was lying dead in the street in front of Sparks Steakhouse.

Anyway, when that many people come over to ‘mange’ all Superbowl afternoon, you can’t exactly ask the little wife to rattle her pots and pans. So virtually all of these parties were catered and the numerous cooks pretty much had to make the same chili because of its reputation – hence the written recipe.

Have I ever cooked it? Sure – but not exactly as written. First of all, it’s very, very expensive to make. Carlo could afford hundreds of pounds of top end Sirloin Steak (“Cut into 1/8” cubes – first cutting off all fat”) but I can’t. Neither can I afford cases of a specified ‘58 Bordeaux nor custom-made Hot Italian Sausage. And although I can afford the bundles of hot green and red chili peppers, I don’t know one person who could eat the damn stuff if I put in the amount called for. A few of the “non-secrets”? No beans of course (You want beans? Buy a can of Campbells.) There’s no mention of Chili Powder – only the raw ingredients of which it’s made and the words ‘ground beef’ do not appear. Probably the most surprising secret ingredient – which really “makes” the dish – is from China!

Now it would be really easy for me to reproduce the recipe here – but what fun would that be? And I’ve found that people value something only when it costs them money (I wish I got so much as a ‘Thank You’ for many of the writing projects and coaching hours I’ve given free over the years.) So here’s what we’re going to do to keep the MAFIA CHILI recipe to ourselves:

Send $ 5 – plus a stamped, self-addressed #10 envelope to:

CHILI RECIPE, Box 15-B,
10 Manhattan Square,
Rochester, New York 14607

I will give your $ 5 to my favorite charity and someone will mail you the recipe within 5-days. You are on your honor not to make more copies. REMEMBER – you are getting a COPY of the original recipe given to me. The typewritten (pre-computer) original is framed and hanging in my living room. Superbowl Sunday is only 6-months away – don’t get stuck with fondue!

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One Response to “MAFIA CHILI”

  1. amy stahl says:

    Franco, I remember making this with you a few years back. And even tho we made
    substitutions, it still cost over $50 for a pot! Also, we weren’t exactly used to buying
    fresh ingredients and washing and chopping them, etc. I think we finished one of the
    bottles of wine about 1/4 of the way thru the chopping before you took the knife away
    from me so I wouldn’t add one of my fingers to the mix.

    It was the most incredible chili I ever ate tho! But I still don’t understand this Italian
    “Honor Thy Chili” stuff and who’s Carlos?

    love, amy

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