A Tribute to Chili
Chili - The Spicy Stew America Loves!
What I love most about Chili, is that no two people make it the same way. Chili comes in so many varieties it makes your head spin. Everyone has their own "secret recipe" and their own way to serve it.
One of my favorite vacation activities, is to drive around some little town in search of a greasy little diner. You know the place, they have stools at the counter, booths with red pleather seats and the whole place smells like fried onions.
I love to go in and order a cup of chili. I never get the bowl, just in case it's really bad chili, and sometimes it is. Other times, it is fantastic, and no matter what, it is always a one of a kind taste sensation. It's just so much fun to taste test all the various ways people make chili. Sometimes it had weird beans, sometimes spicy, sometimes kind of sweet and sometimes it's chunky tomato soup. No matter how many places you go, you will never get the same cup of chili twice.
This lens is a celebration of that spicy stew, we all love and know as Chili!
The Many Faces of the word "Chili"
Chili ~ Chilli ~ Chile
No matter how you spell it, the word "chili" can be used for the spicy stew, the peppers or even the Country!
The History Of Chili
From the time the second person on earth mixed some chile peppers with meat and cooked them, the great chili debate was on; more of a war, in fact. The desire to brew up the best bowl of chili in the world is exactly that old.
Perhaps it is the effect of Capisicum spices upon man's mind; for, in the immortal words of Joe DeFrates, the only man ever to win the National and the World Chili Championships, "Chili powder makes you crazy." That may say it all. To keep things straight, chile refers to the pepper pod, and chili to the concoction. The e and the i of it all.
The great debate, it seems, is not limited to whose chili is best. Even more heated is the argument over where the first bowl was made; and by whom. Estimates range from "somewhere west of Laramie," in the early nineteenth century - being a product of a Texas trail drive - to a grisly tale of enraged Aztecs, who cut up invading Spanish conquistadors, seasoned chunks of them with a passel of chile peppers, and ate them.
Never has there been anything mild about chili.
Except from the "History Of Chili" according to the International Chili Society. To Learn more please visit: International Chili Society
Bean or No Beans?
In our family chili had beans!
Though many chili purists insist that "real chili" has no beans. People all over the world have their own ways of making and serving chili.
In Cincinatti, Ohio they even eat their chili over spaghetti noodles with shredded cheese and oyster crackers and call it "Cincinatti Style Chili."
Some people even use macaroni noodles instead of beans and make it like a casserole.
To Learn more about different styles of chili and another version of chili history, check out: More Fun Chili History
The Great Bean Debate!
Does your ideal chili have beans in it or not?
Mystic Mama's Chili
We Like it Spicy!
2 pounds ground beef
1 large onion diced
1 tsp. each: garlic powder ~ black pepper ~ cinnamon
1/2 tsp. each: seasoned salt ~ hot chili powder ~ cumin
2 quart can of tomato juice
8 oz. can of tomato paste
1 can dark kidney beans
1 can light kidney beans
2 cans hot chili beans
2-6 diced jalapeno or serrano peppers
1 pkg. chili seasoning
1 tsp. each: garlic powder ~ black pepper ~ cinnamon ~ sugar ~ parsley
1/2 tsp. each: seasoned salt ~ cayenne pepper ~ adobo ~ epazote ~ oregano
Brown the meat with the meat spices, when meat is almost done toss in the onions, mix once and take off heat.
In big pot mix meat with all other ingredients. Bring to a boil and then turn down to low and simmer for a couple of hours.
Serve over cornbread
I have a chili pot that I only use for chili. It's an extra large aluminum pot, that once belonged to my great-grandmother. She used it for her "New Year's Day" Ragout, but now it's my big ol' chili pot.
Some people swear by caste iron pots for chili, others like to go with slow cookers and crock-pots. For a lot of people, the pot they cook the chili in, is almost as important as the "secret" recipe.
My only real requirement for a good chili pot is size. Mine is a 2-gallon pot, with room for lots of chili!
Cornbread, Crackers or Noodles?
In my family, it's just not chili without the corn bread. We put a slice of cornbread right in the bowl and pour the chili right over it. Then add some shredded cheddar and raw onions and Yum!
In most restaurants, chili is served with saltine crackers on the side, though that also varies depending on what city you are in. Some of the different variations of how people serve and eat their chili are:
Over noodles ~ topped with fritos ~ over rice ~ over french fries ~ with crackers ~ over nachos ~ over hot dogs ~ over cornbread ~ with macaroni ~ over baked potatoes ~ over hamburgers
There really is no limit to the things you can do with chili. A favorite treat in our family was chili pancakes. My Dad would make cornbread pancakes and we would pour chili over them, top them with cheese, onions and sour cream...deliscious and fun!
How Do You Eat Your Chili?
What is your favorite way to eat chili?
I personally, don't really have a "secret ingredient" in my chili, but my Dad always uses dried pinto beans that he soaks over-night in beer. Lots of people do have "secret ingedients" that they believe makes their chili the best.
Some of these ingredients can seem pretty strange, others sound pretty good. Here are some of the more popular secret ingredients people use: oregano, peanut butter, pineapple, bananas, oranges, tomatillos, beer, chorizo, cocoa, chocolate, Bar-B-Q sauce, coffee, tequila, cola, hoisin sauce, honey, cinnamon, saffron, molasses, vinegar, wine, whiskey, cocoa, bourbon, or curry powder.
I actually use quite a few of those ingredients, but never thought of them as "secret ingredients" because that's just how I make chili.
Throw A Chili Cook-Off Party!
A Fun Potluck Idea!
A chili cook-off party is a great alternative to the same old potluck.
Send out invitations that give guests a chioce between bringing their "secret recipe" chili or a dish to share.
Serve the chili in small beverage cups, so everyone can try each kind.
Give each guest a "secret ballot" card (index cards work great) so each guest can vote for their favotite chili. You can even have catagories like: hottest, tastiest, most unusual, etc...
Have prize ribbons or inexpensive prizes for the winners.
Decorate with lots of fun "chili pepper" and "fiesta" decorations.
A pinata can also be a fun chili cook-off party activity!