I had several people ask me for this recipe. I hope you enjoy it.
The movie Flags of Our Fathers has me thinking more lately about Iwo Jima, the war, and my father's brother. That's him up there with his best friend Private James F. Ryan. It would be the last picture taken of either one of them.
Prosper Terrenoire, Jr., or June as he was called, was 19 when he and his friend landed on Iwo Jima. They survived two weeks. According to a Marine who knew them both, they died together, a fact that gives me some small comfort but did nothing to help my grandmother, a woman who never recovered from the loss of her son.
From everything I know about my uncle he was not really cut out to be a Marine. He was undisciplined, described as "the only boy who could get detention hall in detention hall." He was funny, I've been told, and a charmer. From his picture he wasn't bad looking either.
According to the old Marine who was kind enough to tell me something about him, my uncle and Jim Ryan were "the first to go on liberty and the last to return." They were often AWOL. They were often drunk. They were often in the company of women who were happy to take a private's pay in return for their contribution to the Marines' morale.
When I read or hear about young Marines being killed in Iraq, I can't help but think of my uncle, his friend James Ryan, and my grandmother, a mother who nearly lost her mind with grief and who carried the wounds of Iwo Jima with her until she died.
In their honor, I named this recipe after my uncle's unit. With deep respect to those who serve, then and now, over there or here at home, I present:
FIFTH MARINE BLACK BEAN CHILI
2 T olive oil
1.5 lbs. beef steak, cut into cubes
1 green chili, chopped
2 medium onions, chopped
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
1 T chili powder
1 T cumin
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp thyme
½ tsp red pepper flakes
2 cans beef broth
1 28 oz can of chopped tomatoes with juice
1 28 oz. jar of tomato sauce
2 cans of black beans.
1 tsp of unsweetened cocoa
1 T tequila
1 T red wine vinegar
Brown beef, onion and chili pepper in olive oil until onions are transparent. Stir in garlic, cumin, coriander, chili powder, thyme and red pepper flakes for 30 seconds. Add beans, broth, tomatoes, tomato sauce and simmer 1.5 to 2 hours. Stir in cocoa and simmer an additional ten minutes. Add tequila and vinegar, stir and heat through. Serve over brown rice.
If you try it and like it, let me know. And if anyone can find out anything about James F. Ryan, I'd appreciate it. I know he was KIA on March 4, 1945. I've traced him back to northern California, but that's as far as I got. Ryan isn't exactly an uncommon name. I know you all are researchers, so if any of you have any ideas, I'd love to hear them. I think his family would like a copy of that picture.