What is a bowl of red you might ask? Why, it’s chili of course! Right of the bat you can see the controversy. Chili is a warm food eaten in the chill of winter. Just how strange is that? In America it’s not very strange at all actually. Just ask the participants at one of the numerous chili cook offs held throughout the United States every single year.
Just What Is Chili Anyway?
The answer to that question depends on what part of the United States you find yourself in? Most chili includes ground beef, beans, onions, tomatoes, chili powder and tomato juice. Pretty basic until you travel around to some of the best chili spots in North America and discover how people have added and removed some of those ingredients to create a huge variety of the dish.
Texans are great fans of chili. Their chili is as hot and spicy as any around. Stew meat is often found in southern chili instead of ground meat. These types of chili also include cayenne pepper. The hotter the red, the better the red. That’s the norm in Texas. Many Texans dislike the use of beans in their chili also.
Cincinnati, Ohio is known for their 5 way chili. This chili includes ground meat, spaghetti noodles, beans, onions and cheese. Some cities have tried to improve on this 5 way chili by adding spices and tomatoes. These types of chili are often called the five alarm chili.
For most Americans chili is whatever we can find to put in the pot. Some prefer very basic chili, while others work hard to refine their chili until it’s perfect. Most won’t give their recipe away either which makes for a very guarded secret in many places.
Some chili has even been known to contain corn and bits of potatoes. Some chili dishes include ground pork or ground turkey instead of ground beef. Most chili contains onions and tomatoes, but vary on the other types of vegetables included. There are chili beans in some, kidney beans in others and still some who combine both types of beans. There are even versions of chili made with chicken and white beans, which is known as white chili.
Most chili contains tomato juice. V-8 juice has become a popular replacement for plain tomato juice. With the different varieties of V-8 juice now, some chili experts shy away from adding extra spices. There are chili’s made with wines, beers and even a few that contain orange juice.
Peppers have also found their way into many chili recipes. Bell peppers, jalapeno peppers and hot chili peppers are often added to give color and taste to the best recipes. It is also said a pinch of sugar (brown or white) can be added to remove the acid found in many tomato based chili recipes.
Americans are so proud of their chili that many areas have a chili cook off contest. These cook offs bring in chili of every kind you can imagine. Tasters must choose the best pot of the bunch. To be the chili king or queen is a characteristic carried by many and held in the highest regards in some areas.
No matter where you are from or what you put in your chili, it is sure to bring on a few doubtful taste buds, especially among fellow cooks. Of the diehard chili makers no one believes another’s chili is better than their own, no matter how much they consume. Try making your own version of the best chili around. It just takes a little imagination and often times a liking for the hot and unknown. No matter what you put in that chili pot it is sure to fight off the chill of a cold winter day.