Miss Carol looks at me like I’ve walked into Dixon’s Market in Corbin, Kentucky in a full KKK get-up with a pet tiger on a leash.
“Uh uh, I’m not giving anybody that recipe”
“Well, can you at least tell me the secret ingredient?”
“Honey, I’m the secret ingredient”And so it goes with all the chili cooks I’ve interviewed for my Eastern Kentucky Chili Bun Trail series. Not one of them is willing to come off their recipe. I had the same amount of luck out in Texas where nary a chili man was willing to give up his formula for Texas Red.
I’ve eaten at Dixon’s Market since I was a schoolkid back in the 70s. My parents farm was two miles down the road, and we stopped in regularly to buy chips, Pepsis and chili buns.
Back then Moore Hill was plenty wild and wooly with bootleggers, con men, chop shops, and prostitutes plying their trade.There was one holler nearby that lawmen had declared a ‘no go’ zone. It was too rough and tumble for the police and they just let the brigands have it for themselves.
Nowadays even nearby Spider Creek has been tamed.
And Miss Carol’s chili? It’s sublime. There is a subtle roasted/smokey flavor to the ground beef that I’ve never tasted at any other chili bun parlor. The grind on the meat is fine, as is custom, the chile pepper flavor is dialed down-you’re not going to break a sweat eating this chili.The bun is the Heiner’s brand of nearby West Virginia; it’s the soft white flour type that is typical in Eastern Kentucky. Accoutrement are standard: ballpark mustard and chopped white onion. I opt for Utz potato chips over Grippos as plain chips always beat out barbecued ones for chili bun pairings.
Ale-8, a regional soft drink provides a fine beverage for the meal.
Dixon’s Market is a trip as a good portion of the store is devoted to antiques and flea market finds. An old timey Mickey Mouse club phonograph, a metal Holly Hobby lunchbox, and a wall filled with vintage soda pop bottles are among the treasures.
There’s good value at Dixon’s as my lunch was under $5 and left zero room for dessert. I would’ve loved to have had a Zero bar for old times sake as that was my grandfather’s favorite candy bar on earth. He grew up just a few miles from the old market.
668 Moore Hill Avenue
Hours of operation
always call ahead