Chilli with rattlesnake

Yield: 1 servings

Measure Ingredient
\N \N Written by Linda Beaulieu
\N \N Chili with an added bite


There are 32 ingredients in Harry Estep's chili recipe, but only one has any real venom - when it's alive, that is. The secret to Estep's award-winning chili, which sells almost as quickly as it's made? Rattlesnake. 'It all started about 10 years ago," Estep says. "I was trying to develop something unique for this casual Western restaurant that would make people say, 'What?' So I came up with rattlesnake chili, something that people would talk about." Last month, that talk came cheap at The Pointe Hilton Resort at Tapatio Cliffs in Phoenix.

Estep's chili is so popular with diners at the Pointe in Clubhouse, where Estep is executive chef, that the menu listed "Diamond Back"- chili as a special for the entire month of January selling it at $2½ a cup and $3½ a bowl, which was, according to Estep, practically giving it away. "If you buy just rattle- snake meat, it's about $28 a pound," says Estep, CEC, a member of the Chefs Association of Greater Phoenix. "On the bone, it's $12 a pound. It's very expensive.' Estep filets the flesh from the snake's cartila vertebrae, cuts it into ½-inch pieces, and marinates the snake in salad oil and lime juice overnight to flavor and tenderize it. Then he seasons the meat and sautes it in a little oil with tequila. "I could easily go through 20 tons of rattlesnake in a year" if it were available year-round and if its cost were not so prohibitive, Estep claims. Estep's "Diamond Back" chili has won eight of the last 10 Senator's Great Chili Cookoffs. Indeed, it was the first non-red-meat chili to win the time- honored state competition. Last October, "Diamond Back" chili was the clear favorite in the Chef's Challenge segment of the cookoff, at which 2,000 people sampled the chili creations of chefs from five Phoenix-area resorts. "Anyone can make chili," Estep says. "But with chili, as with anything else, there has to be a uniqueness to it." Estep merely gives his an extra bite.

Submitted By SHERREE JOHANSSON On 10-14-94

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