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I'm hosting a Chili Cook Off and want to have other dishes - HELP!!

I'm looking for a couple other dishes since we'll get tired of just Chili. I'm thinking a nice mexican salad - any good recipes? What else? I want to keep it simple since I'm slaving over my winning chili (hopeful). :-)

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  1. I would probably just go with some cornbread and all of the fixin's for chili: sour cream, cheddar cheese, diced avo and tomatoes.

    1. Have a green salad, the aforementioned corn bread, some plain white rice. For dessert, something simple and fruity - like an apple crumble or lime tart.

      1. A good pot of frijoles (pinto beans)are always welcome. cooked long and slow with a smoky ham hock and a good fresh salsa. Crisp cornbread sticks too.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Candy

          Good suggestion! Keep the beans outta the chili and on the side. Frijoles refritos are a good side dish, and not difficult to make.

        2. Jicama salad. The jicama is a nice crisp cold contrast to the chili. Lots of recipes online. You can also just add jicama to a green salad with toasted pumpkin seeds. Could also put mango in there for some sweet contrast.

          Roasted sweet potatoes if you are wanting something more hearty but still easy.

          3 Replies
          1. re: jsaimd

            Rick Bayless has a jicama, mango and cucumber salad on the foodtv site from an episode of "Cooking Live".

            1. re: MaspethMaven

              Love your ideas. I was thinking a cool cucumber/yogurt type salad, sort of a Middle Eastern/Greek twist.

              1. re: MaspethMaven

                My take on this jicama salad is to use variable mix of fruits and vegetables, based on what is available and attractive. Jicama provides a nice bland crunch. Apples work well. Citrus can be anything from canned mandarin oranges to grapefruit sections. Bell peppers add color and crunch. Cucumber works also, though it adds a lot of moisture. Onion could also work. Greens, other than cilantro, don't seem to fit.

                Seasonings are a mix of salt, acid (e.g. lime juice), and hot (pico de gallo seasoning mix), plus chopped cilantro. I also use some citrus juice - orange, grapefruit, or even the canning juice from the mandarin oranges.

                I like to keep the texture coarse, so it can be eaten by spearing items with a fork, or even with the fingers.

                Good quality warm flour tortillas are the best starch to go along with chili.


            2. I love tangy coleslaw with chili -- nice flavor and texture contrast.

              1. I've had good luck, oddly, in puting out some high quality hot dogs, fresh buns, mustard, ketchip, onions, cheese, and letting people make a chili dog with their favorite chili from those cooking.

                Concur you want a crunch, brightly flavoreed saled of sime kind and something sweet like fresh fruit or sorbet as a palate cleanser. Any dairy product is the best way to tame hot, spicy good -- water or beer just spread the heat around more.


                1. Salad sounds brilliant. You could also make some baked potatoes as a bowl for the chili.

                  For dessert, you could go for something like ice cream, plus some fruit on the side. Fresh pineapple would be awesome.

                  1. In my grade school cafeteria, chili was always served with glazed donuts. It's a highly underrated pairing.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: Yaqo Homo

                      I presume Paula Deen was the Cafeteria Lady?

                      1. re: Yaqo Homo

                        I actually had chili on waffles the other day. It's surprisingly good!

                      2. Fine Cooking had a chili dinner article last year....they had cornbread I think, and these great dessert bars. I am sure I can find the recipe if you're interested.

                        Here's the recipe for the pecan-chocolate bars. They are delicious!

                        And the cornbread recipe:

                        Let me know if you use either of these. I know firsthand that the bars are excellent.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: IndyGirl

                          Ooooooh, I like the cornbread recipe. I'm not big on desserts - I'm hoping someone else brings dessert or I'll pick something up. :-) (not my thing) Thank you.

                          I think I'm settling on a good corn bread (this one looks great), a great mexican salad and hubby is doing a nice Paula Dean kicked up version of Mac & Cheese (and with all all the Chili fixins and some assorted nacho chips/salsas) we should be all set for a feast.

                          1. re: lexpatti

                            Excellent. Good luck! I have never tried a bad fine cooking recipe, so I am sure the cornbread will be great. Have fun!

                        2. I made a chopped salad for a pot luck recently, and the response was so great, people came up to me after and said, "I don't normally get seconds of salad but this was sooo good." It was really simple as well. I adapted the recipe after having dinner at Bobby Flay's Mesa Grill, and the dressing had nice spice that would stand up well to chili.

                          Three heads of romaine hearts chopped in ribbons w/a bread knife
                          2 containers of sweet grape tomatoes, quartered
                          2 English hothouse cucumbers, diced
                          Large can of rinsed chickpeas
                          Chopped pitted nicoise olives
                          Finely finely minutely (less than a square quarter inch) diced cheddar and monterey jack (about 8 oz each)

                          Homemade balsamic vinaigrette, I added a serrano chili and some sriracha sauce to add extra heat. And a little OJ to add some citrus sweetness.

                          You can add diced avocado and crumbled blue and yellow tortilla chips at the end...I forgot to do this when I got to the party and the salad lacked for nothing.

                          Really good stuff. The salad was so large I used my big cake container turned upside down to bring it to the party...and the whole salad was gone in 45 minutes.

                          1. have a selection of breads: corn bread, tortillas, cinnamon rolls. (The latter is the favorite in this part of the world--the story is that in school cafeterias it was on chili day that the cook had time to make cinnamon rolls.) Beyond that, just have a variety of condiments for the chili, like chopped onions, cheese, maybe chipotle puree for those who prefer their chili hot.

                            1. i like the idea of some raw veggies to healthify a meal with heavy meat. i have served raw corn salad with chili.

                              raw corn--just cut off the cob into a bowl.
                              lime juice

                              it's almost like a salsa. people can mix it into the chili or eat it on the side.

                              1. Nacho bar...People can use the chili on the nachos if they want, or just have nachos, cheeses, cheese sauce,guacamole, tomatoes, jalepenos etc. on the side for people to load up as they wish.

                                1. nice tangy crunchy salad. shredded cabbage, carrots, red onions, and jicama all marinated in vinegar and sugar, with lots of cilantro and mint. i usually drop some chopped jalapenos in this when i make it, but you might want to skip those in this case.

                                  corn bread would be great -- a soft version with some cheese and creamed corn in the mix.

                                  a sliced fruit tray, with a nice arrangement of pineapple, kiwi, oranges and strawberries.

                                  ice cream -- cinnamon and vanilla.

                                  1. I've recently been making plain cheese and jalepeno quesadilla when I have chilli and everybody gobbles them up. Might be difficult for a crowd, but you could have it set up where everybody could make their own.

                                    1. For historical authenticity pan de campo (camp bread or cowboy bread) or grilled sourdough bread would be good. I like biscuits and chili - chili on biscuits is a favorite snack. Any kind of corn bread, from the very simple to the one's loaded with cheese, corn, peppers, onions (really a side, not a bread).

                                      One of my favorite combos is a grilled cheese sandwich (on sourdough if possible). I've always thought pimiento cheese sandwiches would be good with chili but never tried it.

                                      A good tropical fruit salad is a good accompaniment and may help with digestion (pineapple, papaya, guava, grapes, bananas, etc.)

                                      For desert, pecan pie is excellent or pecan tartlets; a blueberry or peach cobbler would also be good (served warm, topped with Blue Bell vanilla).

                                      Oh, and don't forget some Fritos, chopped onion and cubed or grated cheese, in case anybody wants to make their own chili pie.

                                      1. Tamales! Total indulgence with good chili over them.

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: Scagnetti

                                          Tamales are back breaking work, time consuming, though. Worth every minute, but maybe lexpatti won't have the time to indulge if she's focused on making her chili.

                                          1. re: ballulah

                                            God save me, I wouldn't recommend that anybody make HOMEMADE tamales. Certainly she has access to Hispanic markets that sell quality tamales.

                                        2. As an alternative to cornbread that nonetheless goes very well with chili, may I suggest my sister's Sage and Cumin Bread (with Cheese Filling)

                                          3 C flour
                                          1 t salt
                                          2 t baking powder
                                          3/4 t baking soda
                                          1/4 C chopped Italian parsley
                                          1/4 t dried sage leaf (not ground)
                                          1/2 t whole cumin seeds
                                          1 large egg
                                          2 C buttermilk
                                          6 oz jack cheese cut into thin slices
                                          1/2 C diced canned (or home roasted) green chilis
                                          4 T butter

                                          Preheat oven to 375 degrees with rack in upper third. Butter a 10" pie plate, even better if it is glass or earthenware, but not necessary.

                                          Place first 7 ingredients in food processor. Blend for 1-2 seconds.

                                          Add egg and buttermilk and blend for 4 seconds more. DO NOT OVERMIX.

                                          Spread half of dough in an even layer in pie dish. and layer with cheese. Be careful not to put cheese all the way to edge so it leaks out. Dot cheese with green chilis.

                                          Drop rest of dough over the filling with a big spoon.

                                          Dot with 2 T butter.

                                          BAKE for 40-45 minutes. Loaf will be raised and hollow to the tap and slightly brown. Serve hot or very warm.

                                          1. Thanks everyone. The Cook Off is Over and I Won!!!!! Everyone loved the sides, kept it simple with an ice cream dessert, mexican salad, corn bread (couple recipes in here that I'm keeping for another event where my chili doesn't take up all my time) and a great mac & cheese. Lots of tortilla chips and assorted dips too. Thanks for all the great advice. I think I like the tangy cole slaw for next time too.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: lexpatti

                                              Congratulations on your win, lexpatti! I agree with the suggestion of salad as a crisp, cool alternative to chili. I am getting ready to host a party and have gotten a lot of great tips from this site:
                                              They recommend also serving a veggie plate, cheese and crackers, and cookies or cupcakes. That sounds perfect to me and best of all, so simple to prepare ahead of time!

                                            2. Two things:
                                              1) put out a bowl of bittersweet chocolate chunks with the chili. It really smooths things out.

                                              2) I find cornbread, though delicious, is too messy when used to scrape the bowl. Here's an alternative: Garlic bread, made the slow way.
                                              1 French baguette, cut lengthwise and then into four inch pieces
                                              Six cloves of garlic
                                              Two tablespoons of EVOO. Do not substitute.
                                              Two tablespoons of the best butter you can get.
                                              Coarse salt (kosher or sea works. The coarseness is what is needed.)

                                              Roast garlic (lightly crushed with a knife blade) to a golden color in the olive oil. Don't let it burn. Let garlic rest on a paper towel, remove oil to a Pyrex dish, add butter to oil and let it sit on the stove until all melts. (Don't cook it, just let it warm.) Chop garlic, add salt to it, then use the back of knife to make a paste by scraping it against the cutting board. Return paste to oil/butter mixture, mix well, spread over sliced bread. Broil bread for about a minute. Keep an eye on it. Tastes best when edges of bread just start to burn.