By Marsha Fottler –
One of America’s favorite dishes, chili, has nothing to do with the country of Chile but everything to do with the chili pepper and lots of other hot spices too. This one-pot meal is the go-to dish for home cooks needing to feed a crowd a tasty meal that keeps ingredient costs low and flavor intensity high.
Condiments such as shredded cheese, sour cream or crushed taco chips make a chili meal a customized experience. But, what really characterizes the meal is the part of the country where chili is prepared. Chili recipes are regional and you can usually geographically locate cooks by what goes into their pots of chili. Adding pasta? You’re making Cincinnati chili.
No one is sure of the origin of chili con carne (which is Spanish for chilies with meat), but a stew of meat, spices and water that could be made in big batches for little money turned up in California during the Gold Rush and also appeared in the mid 1800s in Texas where it was popular with cowboys who made a crude style of chili over campfires during long cattle drives.
Today there are as many varieties of chili as there are regions of the country and cooks with imagination. Almost anything goes, except that authentic chili needs to have chile peppers in the mix and resulting chili has to be hot, meaning spicy and also that it’s served hot or at room temperature. No one wants cold chili. Then there is the crucial decision a cook must make at the start of a recipe – beans or no beans. The International Chili Society emphatically decrees no beans in chili.
The type of chili you love is definitely pegged to the place where you grew up eating this all-American favorite. In Texas, most recipes call for beef chunks, no beans. If you live in Cincinnati you’ll use ground beef, spaghetti and sweet spices such as cinnamon and allspice. Black beans, cilantro and lime juice are ingredients in California chili, while green chilies, white beans and pork characterize a New Mexican chili. New York chili calls for hot sausage and red beans, while New Age chili is likely to be made with white beans and chicken.
Chicago chili devotees respond to a recipe of ground beef, red or pinto beans and a red sauce. But in Oklahoma, there are no beans in the chili, just meat, green chilies and beef broth. Vegetarian chili is delicious when made with three varieties of beans and corn. Philadelphia chili cooks put into the pot beef, beans, sweet-hot spices and even a touch of chocolate. What’s your chili profile?
Thursday, February 23 is National Chili Day. Plan to participate. Choose a recipe and cook up a big batch.
Chef Judi Gallagher
“I love this recipe because the roasted chicken adds extra flavor. Why worry about soaking beans overnight and making sure they are cooked all the way when you can add canned. Serve with corn bread or cheesy biscuit.”
2 15-ounce cans pinto beans drained
8 fresh Anaheim chilies,(also known as California chilies and available at Latin American markets and some supermarkets), about 1 pound
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
2 large onions, chopped
1/3 cup all purpose flour
4 cups low-salt chicken broth
3 cups half and half
4 cups shredded cooked chicken
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon hot pepper sauce
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
(Optional) 1 jar white bean chili starter -Fronterra Brand is the best and
found at Fresh Market
1 1/2 cups grated Monterey Jack cheese (about 6 ounces)
1 cup sour cream
Chopped fresh cilantro
Purchased tomatillo or green chili salsa
Char chilies over gas flame or in broiler until blackened on all sides.
Enclose in paper bag; let stand 10 minutes. Peel, seed, and chop chilies.
Set aside. Melt butter in clean heavy large pot over medium heat. Add onions and sauté until tender, about 15 minutes. Add flour and stir 5 minutes (do not brown). Gradually whisk in chicken broth and half and half. Simmer gently until thickened, about 10 minutes. Add reserved white beans and roasted chilies, shredded chicken, and next 5 ingredients. Simmer gently to blend flavors, about 20 minutes. (Chili can be made 1 day ahead. Chill until cold, then cover and keep chilled. Heat before continuing.)
Add grated cheese and sour cream to chili; stir just until chili is heated
through and cheese melts (do not boil). Ladle chili into bowls and garnish
with cilantro and green salsa. Serve.
Rodney Jones, a Florida champion chili chef
3 pounds chili-grind ground beef
2 pounds ground sausage
8 teaspoons California chili pepper
8 teaspoons New Mexico chili pepper
10 teaspoons Old West chili powder
8 ounces beef broth
8 ounces chicken broth
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 15-ounce canned diced tomatoes, in chili sauce if possible
2 large yellow onions chopped
2 cloves of garlic diced
3 teaspoons cayenne pepper
3 habanera peppers chopped
3 jalapeno peppers chopped
4 teaspoon cumin powder
Heat olive oil in large skillet and cook beef and pork until browned. Discard greasy cooking liquids from the skillet. Remove the meat with a slotted spoon and put in a large pot with the beef and chicken broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer. Discard greasy cooking liquids from the skillet. Heat remaining olive oil in skillet and sauté onions, peppers for about 5-7 minutes. Add to the large pot along with the additional ingredients cook while stirring on medium heat for about an hour. Turn the heat down and bring chili to a simmer. Stir every 5-7 minutes let simmer for about 30 minutes. Serve with shredded cheese and sour cream.
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