The word alone evokes huge divides in friends and family when you talk about what makes a good pot of chili.
Is it the meat?
Is it the amount of time it takes to cook?
Is it the secret ingredient that you add that makes a “bowl of red” go from ordinary to extraordinary?
I dunno either. I’ve eaten a lot of chili in my time. And some I’ve loved. Some I didn’t.
However, I’ve been able to classify chili into three categories:
- Chili with beans
- Chili without beans
- And those “other” chilis with all kinds of other things like chicken, corn, sweet potatoes…you get the picture.
And while I can spend the rest of my life learning and understanding what makes an award-winning bowl of Terlingua chili, I like to start with the basics.
Most recipes for chili I’ve found come with these basic ingredients:
From then on, it’s all up to you. But using just these few ingredients, considered the basic recipe for the first pot of chili made on the trail by cowboys up and down the cattle drives, it’s good without adding anything else. But you know you will.
The Secret Recipe
In my research I’ve found all kinds of things people put in their chili to perfect their recipe. From peanut butter, cocoa, cup of coffee, rum and much more.
However, for me, it’s the beer that really adds another level of flavor to the chili and really helps tenderize the meat. Not to mention, it gives you a great excuse to buy a six pack, use one beer for your chili and then share the rest as you enjoy a big piping bowl of chili.
[Tweet “Chili 101: Turkey, Bison & Venison make great chili, but make sure to add a little bacon fat or oil to recipe. #Chili #CookingTip “]
Topping Off Your Chili
Another very personal point to cover about chili is how you dress it. The extras are often what gives chili that final touch of deliciousness. Cornbread, cheese, sour cream, jalapenos, crackers, tortilla chips, Fritos corn chips – those are just the start of what I’ve seen grace the top of a bowl. I don’t think you can really put a science on what is the best topping, but I can promise you this: if you come to my house, we got ’em all. And I suggest you do too since some people might not even eat their chili if there’s not cheese and a little something crunchy to go with it.
Want s’more, please?