Friday, January 21, 2011

What’s the big deal about chili?


It’s the ultimate cold weather (perfect for today), game day, manly food: chili.  But I just don’t see what all the fuss is about, frankly.  It’s okay.  Just not something I’ve found that tempts me all that much.  I know lots of people like it super hot, with habaneras, etc.  And some people put a mixture of steak, pork, and other fancy meat in it, along with the required beans and tomato sauce base.  Some people simmer theirs for hours on end, while others make it up quick in a few minutes. 

Lately it seems people get very excited about chili cook-offs, where someone is crowned the chili king.  Even recently at a work party (I was unable to attend, unfortunately) they had just such a contest and one of the winners was someone who simply poured out several cans of chili Hormel-style.  This boggles the mind as canned chili is one of the nastiest food products on the market, in my humble opinion.  (Though paired with Velveeta it can make a yummy chili cheese dip with tortilla chips – but be sure to get the no-bean variety.)

A few years back our church had a couple chili cook-off contests, where every person voted with their pocket change for their favorite chili and the proceeds went to the winner’s specified mission organization.  I’m pretty sure one year’s winner was a beanless creamy chicken chili.  (The best kind, in my book, but some would say it’s not chili without beans.)  I think that’s probably stretching the definition of “chili” a bit far since it was a cream sauce base, no beans, etc but it did have jalapenos in it, so maybe that counts for something.  And anyway, since I’m not a big fan of chili, it was tops in my book.  I even coerced the recipe from the winners.

My mom’s chili was unique.  It was sweet!  My dad has a big sweet tooth, so that was just how he liked it.  I’m not sure exactly how much brown sugar she put in it, but it had to be a lot.  And she cooked it for several hours.  But it was still a traditional tomato sauce base with beans and ground beef. 

For some reason (blame it on the school cafeteria, maybe?) I’ve always preferred a much more “tomato” taste to my chili.  I don’t like it spicy (the chili, that is) and I don’t prefer it sweet.  I like a mild tomato flavor, not too thick and not too runny.  And the beans aren’t my favorite, but I can do them in small portions.  I’ve even found I like lean ground turkey in my chili, though it’s not as good in some other things.  My sister-in-law graced me a few years back with her recipe, which is just right for this Goldilocks.  I know others have their opinions on chili and this might not fit your bill, but it does mine. 

Crockpot Chili Recipe
4 cans (15 0z) tomato sauce
36 oz tomato juice
15 oz water
2 cans light kidney beans, drained & rinsed
2 lbs. cooked ground beef or turkey (add onion & garlic powder to taste while cooking – I cook mine in a Pampered Chef Micro-Cooker)
1 medium onion, chopped (or onion flakes)
Sugar, to taste (approx 1/8 – ¼ C)
Chili powder, about 1 tsp

Line crockpot with disposable liner.  Combine all ingredients and cook on low for 8 hrs. 

**I usually cut this recipe in half for just Jake & I, which provides a couple meals each.

We haven’t even mentioned all the chili fixins that go with!  Some people crumble crackers, others Fritos (though not usually any other kind of tortilla / corn chips).  Lots of people take theirs with a good helping of shredded cheese on top.  Me?  I like mine plain.  Crackers are basically just hard bread, which when crumbled into soup just get soggy.  Doesn’t get much nastier for me than soggy bread.  And chips aren’t far behind in that category.  The cheese just gets stringy and annoying.  Better to just leave it alone and taste the richness of the chili by itself, if you ask me.  And this way it still fits on a gluten-free diet!  But the cinnamon rolls that are a common side to a bowl of chili don’t fit on that diet, of course.

3 comments:

  1. You make no mention of the infamous "Cincinatti Chili" that my family loves so much, which I feel you may have strong feelings about ;)

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  2. So true, Beth! I will have to do a whole post about that, I guess.

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