This clone recipe may be for the whole hamburger, but anybody who knows about Tommy’s goes there for the chili – and that’s the part of this clone they seek. That’s also the part that required the most kitchen sleuthing. Turn out it’s an old chili con carne recipe created back in 1946 by Tommy’s founder, Tommy Koulax, for his first hamburger stand on the corner of Beverly and Rampart Boulevards in Los Angeles.
By adding the right combination of water and flour and broth and spices to the meat we can create a thick, tomato-less chili sauce worthy of the gajillions of southern California college students that make late-night Tommy’s runs a four-year habit. And if you don’t live near one of the two dozen Tommy’s outlets, you can still get a gallon of Tommy’s famous chili shipped to you. But I hope you really dig the stuff, because you’ll shell out around 70 bucks for the dry ice packaging and overnight shipping. And don’t expect to see the ingredients on the label since the chili comes packed in a gallon-size mustard jug.
1 pound ground beef (not lean)
1/4 cup flour plus 1 1/4 cups flour
1 1/3 cups beef broth
4 cups water
3 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons grated (and then chopped) carrot
1 tablespoon white vinegar
2 teaspoons dried minced onion
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
3 pounds ground beef
8 hamburger buns
16 slices Kraft cheddar cheese Singles
1/2 cup diced onion
32 to 40 hamburger pickles (slices)
8 slices large beefsteak tomato (1/2-inch thick)
1/4 cup yellow mustard
Strain the fat out of the meat with popular and common kitchen gadgets
Roux. Something good can come from the French.
1. Prepare the chili by first browning the meat in a large saucepan over medium heat. Crumble the meat as it browns. When the meat has been entirely cooked (7 to 10 minutes), pour the meat into a strainer over a large cup or saucepan. Let the fat drip out of the meat for about 5 minutes, then return the meat back to the first saucepan. Cover and set aside.
2. With the fat from the meat, we will now make a roux – a French contribution to thicker sauces and gravies usually made with fat and flour. Heat the drippings in a saucepan over medium heat (you should have drained off around 1/2 cup of the stuff). When the fat is hot, add 1/4 cup flour to the pan and stir well. Reduce heat to medium low, and continue to heat the roux, stirring often, until it is a rich caramel color. This should take 10 to 15 minutes. Add the beef broth to the pan and stir. Remove from heat.
3. Meanwhile, back at the other pan, add the water to the beef, then whisk in the remaining 1 1/4 cups flour. Add the roux/broth mixture and the other chili ingredients and whisk until blended. Make sure your grated carrot is chopped up to the size of rice before you add it.
4. Crank the heat up to medium high. Stir often until you see bubbles forming on the surface of the chili. Turn the heat down to medium low, and continue to simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, or until thick. The chili should be calmly bubbling like lava as it simmers. When it’s done cooking, take the chili off the heat, cover it, and let it sit for 30 minutes to an hour before using it on the burgers. It should thicken to a tasty brown paste as it sits.
5. To make your hamburgers, you’ll first divide 3 pounds of hamburger into 16 portions of 3 ounces each. Grill the burgers in a hot skillet or on an indoor griddle for 4 to 5 minutes per side or until done. Sprinkle some salt and pepper on each patty.
6. Build the burgers by lightly toasting the faces of the hamburger buns. Turn them over into a hot skillet or a griddle on medium heat.
7. Place one patty onto the bottom bun.
8. Position two slices of cheese on the meat.
9. Place another beef patty on the cheese.
10. Spoon about 1/3 cup of chili onto the beef patty.
11. Sprinkle about 1 tablespoon of diced onion onto the chili.
12. Arrange 4 to 5 pickle slices on the onion.
13. Place a thick slice of tomato on next.
14. Spread mustard over the face of the top bun and top off your hamburger by turning this bun over onto the tomato.
Makes 8 burgers. (6 cups of chili.)