Chili con carne, meaning “chili with meat,” is the traditional Spanish term for the simpler yet more popular “chili.” It is known as a spicy stew filled with beef and chili peppers. You may season it with cumin, onions, and garlic for a stronger taste. Most home cooks even add beans and tomatoes for texture, color, and extra flavor. Chili is meant to be eaten as is, but it became more popular around the world as an additional “kick” for simple snacks such as hotdogs and fries.
This dish may look simple, but chili can only be delicious if the cook knows the basics. If the base mixture tastes bad, then the whole dish is ruined even before you start making your own twists to it. To achieve that traditional taste we are looking for, it is best to be familiar first about the discovery of chili and the most common styles of cooking it through the years. Then, feel free to open your mind about various recipes that can teach you how to make chili in so many ways possible. You must definitely try cooking the chili recipes you will find interesting.
The Spicy History of Chili
Chili was first cooked sometime in the 1850s. The original version is pounding dried beef, dried chili peppers, suet, and salt together, forming the jumble into bricks, and leaving them to dry. Chili was meant to be a dish while traveling, hence the necessity of turning it into bricks. Once the traveler gets hungry, he would just boil the chili bricks in a pot, turning the solid form into mush.
Being a simple man’s food, how did chili manage to capture the heart of America? Right now, chili is considered to be a staple American food like the all-time favorite burger.
The popularity of chili in America can be traced back to the success of the San Antonio Chili Stand in 1893. San Antonio, Texas was a go-to destination for tourists. Diners began to spread the word until the whole country knew about the dish just because of the irresistible taste of chili. As soon as the demand for chili became rampant, hundreds of chili parlors gradually dominated several states.
With more than a hundred chili parlors, it was certainly a massive competition when it comes to sales and popularity. That’s why some of them started to make unusual fusions that have something to do with chili. In Cincinnati, chili was served on top of spaghetti together with oyster crackers.
Another example is the O.T. Hodge chili parlor in St. Louis which invented the recipe called “slinger.” A slinger is composed of two cheeseburger patties with a couple of eggs and hash browns. It sounds too simple, right? But, it became a bestseller because slingers should always have so much chili.
Types of Chili
As more and more generations tasted the magic of chili, at the same time, people started to look for other ways to enjoy the dish. Another way to put this is that some cultures have their own distinct palate, hence making their own version of a traditional dish. Here are three major variations of chili in a span of decades or even more than a century:
Meaning “green chili,” chili verde can be much spicier than the original. It is a famous cuisine in New Mexico. Instead of beef, pork chunks are usually used. The chunks are cooked with chicken broth, roasted green chilis, tomatillos, and garlic. Tomatoes are optional ingredients. For extra spiciness, habanero peppers, serrano, jalapeño, and poblano are useful. When it comes to fusion, chili verde is a favorite Mission burrito filling.
An important note is to make sure that you slowly cook the pork chunks together with other ingredients. That’s why we recommend that you use a slow cooker. If you are always cooking for your family, then you might be interested to know the best slow cookers that can serve four people. Even better, we have a list of high-quality yet affordable slow cookers.
Also called chili sans carne, chili non carne, and chili sin carne, vegetarian chili became in-demand in the 1960s and 1970s America. Vegetarianism was a new thing, and people became conscious about the health risks of red meat. To replace meat, tofu or potatoes can be the main stars of the dish. In order to make these ingredients more delightful to eat, beans, beets, mushrooms, squash, and corn can be additional components for texture and additional taste.
White beans replace the tomatoes in this type of chili. When it comes to the meat, chicken breast and turkey are the options. Obviously, the end result is one delicious, white mush.
How to Make Chili
Now that we are familiar with the most common types of chili, how about we learn how to make chili in four ways: traditional, chili verde, vegetarian chili, and white chili?
This recipe from Danielle Spivey in Allrecipes may have a few modern twists to it, but it stays true with all the classic ingredients: ground beef, chili peppers, cumin, onions, garlic, beans, and tomatoes. It also keeps it real by living up to the dish’s hotness and spiciness. Additional ingredients include green bell pepper, bay leaf, and jalapeño.
Pork Chile Verde with Red Chile Salsa
Bon Appétit’s Jeanne Kelley gave importance to the true taste of Southwestern-style chili. Her recipe makes sure to highlight the mildness of green chilis, the tenderness of pork, and the tanginess of tomatillos. It highly recommends serving the chili in warm corn tortillas with spinach-avocado salad and honey-lime vinaigrette. It also suggests pairing the meal with a dark beer for a perfect dinner. Meanwhile, we recommend that your favorite brew comes from a reliable beer cooler since drinking it ice-cold is the most satisfying way. If you do not like to drink from a bottle, then you might want to check out our take on an ideal beer glasses.
Homemade Vegetarian Chili
The blog Cookie and Kate keeps it simple with its homemade vegetarian chili when it comes to ingredients. Its recipe mainly relies on spices, and vegetables such as carrots, and celery. However, it highlights smokiness and complexity of flavor. It is more enjoyable to eat with grated cheddar cheese, sour cream, tortilla chips, sliced avocado, and chopped cilantro.
White Chili (Football Soup)
“Football Soup” is the fun name for this recipe from Genius Kitchen’s Tornado Ali with the version of The Blue Bowl Restaurant and Bakery in Kimmswick, Missouri as the inspiration behind. It is an ideal dish to share with guests while watching the game on a wide flat-screen TV. Do not fret because this white chili is too easy to cook. It also freezes well for future consumption.
Putting a certain twist on chili is only effective if you stay true to its basic flavor and texture. Nothing beats the classics. From being a simple travel food, chili successfully became popular around the world. Its taste is so versatile that combining it with other types of dishes or snacks makes the food more exciting. Chili verde, vegetarian chili, and white chili are the most common variations of chili. That is purely a good thing because you can try different versions of chili at home without veering far from the original taste.
On the other hand, to guide you in your cooking adventure, check out our take on the best cookbook available on the market today and our guide on how to carve a turkey. Also, if you’re a health-conscious one, you may check out our article about 6 foods that nutritionists won’t eat.