By Andrea McCann
With the weather finally cooling off somewhat, especially in the evenings, and football season in full swing, I’ve been thinking “chili!”
There’s an ongoing debate, which probably will never be resolved, about just how chili should be made. Beans or no beans? Tomatoes or not? Thick or soupy? Macaroni, spaghetti or sans pasta?
The Chili Appreciation Society International (There’s a bandwagon for everything, isn’t there?!) has a theme song that says: “... if you know beans about chili, you know that chili has no beans!” The song also says it doesn’t go with macaroni.
Personally, I’m not all that particular. Well, maybe just a little particular! Beans are OK, just not in excess, and I prefer chili beans versus the larger kidney beans. A little macaroni I can live with — remember we’re not making a casserole. But no spaghetti, please — chili is not an Italian dish. Tomatoes are fine, or not. And I definitely like my chili thick.
When I make chili, I use my mom’s recipe, but tweak it to suit my tastebuds. So does my daughter — to suit her taste. We both like plenty of chili powder. And it seems like even Mom makes it a little different every time. It’s funny how three people can use the same recipe and ultimately produce three unique pots of chili!
I love white chili, but have never attempted it at home. Recently I found a recipe that sounds a bit like a cross between regular and white chili, so I clipped it out of the publication where I found it.
Lyndon B. Johnson, 36th President of the United States, was from Texas, where chili is said to originate. He’s quoted as saying: “Chili concocted outside of Texas is usually a weak, apologetic imitation of the real thing. One of the first things I do when I get home to Texas is to have a bowl of red. There is simply nothing better.”
He’d probably turn up his nose at my recipes, but to each his own! It seems like every region of the United States has its own version of chili. Here is a couple of recipes you can try out — and feel free to tweak as much as your little tastebuds desire!
1 lb. lean ground beef
Onion (I usually use half a medium-sized onion.)
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
Chili powder, to taste
1 small can tomato paste
4 cans water
4 cans tomato juice
1 can beans, drained
Macaroni if desired
Brown ground beef and onion in Dutch oven. Drain any fat accumulated. Add salt, pepper and chili powder. Stir in thoroughly. Add tomato paste and mix thoroughly before using tomato paste can to add 4 cans water and 4 cans tomato juice. Add beans. You could add tomatoes, green peppers or chile peppers to taste, as well. Simmer.
Once the chili has cooked a little, I try a taste and start adding more pepper and/or chili powder until I’m satisfied with the taste. When we include macaroni, we’ve discovered it’s more efficient to start it in a separate saucepan and add it after it’s already cooked.
Easy Chicken Chili
6 fresh boneless, skinless chicken thighs (cooked and cut into bite-sized pieces)
2 cans (16 oz.) kidney beans, not drained
2 cans (14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes, not drained
1.6-oz. pkg. Mexene Chili Seasoning Mix
1 T. garlic pepper sauce, to taste
Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan. Stir until well blended. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes.
Serve with shredded cheese and tortilla chips or crackers if desired.
This recipe is the one I haven’t tried, but when I do, I plan to substitute chili beans for the kidney beans. I might use chicken breasts and shred the meat, as well.
Andrea will probably have a four-footed sous chef “dogging” her when she experiments with her chili recipes. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.