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Special Chili Ingredient

Making an annual Super Bowl chili. Ive pretty much tried everything and while I dont need a full recipe Im wondering what unusual or "special" ingredient folks use in their chili that really makes it good. Ive heard things like coffee, chocolate, molasses, cinnamon, even pig blood (!). Any other recommendations people have? Also does anyone else use a different cut of meat then the standard "stew beef"?

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    1. vanilla extract (also 2nding the chocolate and cinnamon)

      1. My standard chili isn't too far from typical - turkey and chipotle with plenty of beans.

        1. I think most people over-complicate their chili. Thoroughly brown your beef in rendered beef fat, add garlic, cumin and oregano. Rehydrate a few different dried chiles (your choice) and throw them in the blender with some of the soaking liquid. Add this to your chili. Add some beef stock or beer. Simmer until the meat is really tender. Add a slurry of water, masa and a pinch of salt. Simmer until thickened and then adjust seasoning. You're done. This is one of those dishes best kept simple. It should taste like beef and chiles.

          9 Replies
          1. re: austinfood

            May I come over for dinner, please? That sounds ideal. Clearly I couldn't possibly agree more with austinfood. The "secret" to a truly great chili is to use high quality ingredients and relatively few of them.

            James Christinian's suggestion to check out these recipes from Terlingua International Chili Competition winners to see what they put in their's is a really good one. http://www.chili.org/recipes.html

            Like others on this thread, I prefer chuck roast though my preference is for very coarsely ground rather than cut into chunks.

            1. re: austinfood

              Sorry, not my type of chili, although I am sure good. I don't enjoy chili that way. Maybe just the way I grew up. I like alot of vegetables, beans and a depth of flavors with different spices. No offense ... different parts of the country have hundreds of different recipes.

              1. re: kchurchill5

                To each their own and all that; but, the implication that there wouldn't be serious depth of flavor in what austinfood writes about is off base. The chilis along with the cumin will provide significant depth and breadth of flavor for the dish.

                1. re: ccbweb

                  I always cook each layer slowly and add cumin too ... but understand the differences.

              2. re: austinfood

                I mostly agree here. That's a proper red beef chile. However, I include some rehydrated porcini or chinese black mushrooms (either will work) with the chiles. Not a lot, and not enough to be a clear flavor in the end product, but to my pallet it helps bring out the taste of the chiles.

                1. re: austinfood

                  That's pretty much my base recipe -- After I rehydrate the chile's, I whir them in an immersion blender, then sear and oven braise short ribs overnight in the chile liquid with some additional beer and seasonings. The long braise gives off a ton of meat juice, which adds a lot of beefy flavor. Next morning, separate beef from sauce. Refrigerate sauce. What i do differnent then most is I don't cube the beef - I use whole short ribs, then after the braise, I shred it. Finally, I add more ground chiles, Ketchup and some vinegar to give it more "pop."

                  1. re: austinfood

                    A-frickin'-men, classic is the best. I use chili grind beef, anchos and pasillas and definitely beer.

                    1. re: bushwickgirl

                      Neither of you mention onion or tomato? Gotta do onion. Not even a dab of tomato? Otherwise, I too don't see the need to add a lot of secret ingredients or things like Worcestershire. Beef stock is almost required. Use it and a pinch of sugar and save the beer for direct intake while cooking!

                      1. re: Scargod

                        I never use tomato. Otherwise mine is like a ragu. Really easy and real nice.

                  2. Red bell peppers. I saute them with the onions until they are really soft and browned. They kind of melt into the chili and add a sweetness to balance out the spicyness.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: cheesecake17

                      the freshest ingredients possible! I also like beer and achiote. Rehydrate dry chilis blend em and strain em for your base with some V -8 for a fast rendition.

                        1. re: bbqboy

                          V-8 works great for me. I also use this as a quick go to in tomato based soups, sauces and stews.

                          1. re: kchurchill5

                            Good way to use up leftover Bloody Mary mix too.

                            1. re: coll

                              Absolutely! Or better yet with some vodka, :)

                    2. Use roasted chuck roast and shred the meat rather than use hamburger. Can shred by hand or use a food processor for a finer chop. Be sure your ancho chile element is strong. I like to salt mine with fish sauce for extra umami, or beef bouillion concentrate.

                      1. It depends on the style of chili I'm making. For your standard, I use a combination of cayenne, chili, chipotle and aleppo peppers for heat and often add a touch of cinnamon along with the cumin.

                        1. Chipotle in adobo can add smoky background hints, but a little goes a long way; its easy to add too much and overpower. Try a half pepper for your pot and go from there.

                          As for a superbowl conversation piece, keep a smaller amount aside and make it super hot (plenty of cayenne or a bit of dave's insanity sauce or chopped habanero, you get the idear). Pretty much 'ridiculous' hot, but its gotta be killer.
                          Warn your guests and let them try it. They'll be talking about it for weeks...."hey remember Rex's hot superbowl chili?!"

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: porker

                            Yeah I used to actually make 'mild', 'somewhat spicy' and 'crazy spicy' versions whenever I made chili to keep everyone happy. But its a lot of trouble so this year Im going to forgo the habaneros altogether and just go for good tasting with a reasonable kick. After all I can always amp up my bowl with some pure cap or something once its served if Im feeling particularly suicidal.

                            By the way, Chipotle in adobe is a recent discovery for me and I love the combination of heat and smokiness it gives.

                          2. I use boneless chuck and cube it up, great flavor, never stew meat. Also, I cook mine in the oven, more even heat.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: cstr

                              Interesting. Like a casserole? What temp? Fairly low I would imagine.

                              1. re: Insidious Rex

                                300 F, lid on. Length of time depends on how large your pot is, I do a large pot 3-4 qts from 1 1/2 - 2 hrs. The spices really get into the meat, cubes of meat are about 1", Oh and NO BEANS!

                            2. Hatch red chile pods, garlic, water, pork and salt and viola! New Mexico chile. Put the pinto beans in the bowl, top w/ red chile, grated cheese and diced raw onion. You'll never return to the dark side of the chile.

                              1. Go to chili.org for the winning recipies at the Terlingua, Texas world chili cook-off from the past twenty years. You will not find recipies for chili with beans. We don't do that here.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: James Cristinian

                                  Just checked it out - not really my style. I like it hot, but hearty and simple

                                2. hershey's chocolate syrup.

                                    1. Nopales, ancho chilies and pork butt among other things.

                                      No beans. No tomatoes. After all, I'm making a dish that features chile peppers, not a tomato stew.

                                      14 Replies
                                      1. re: bkhuna

                                        So true, so true. Don't be tempted by the dark side of the tomato and bean force.
                                        En Espanol chile con frijoles.

                                        1. re: Passadumkeg

                                          AFAIAC, tomatillos belong in pork chile. I disdain beans or any veggies like celery, sweet bell peppers, carrots, etc. I think you get the idea (and yes, at small New England chili cookoffs I've seen it all!) If you do then call it vegetable stew, not chili.

                                          If making beef chili I have used seven roast, sirloin and round steak. I cut up my own and pass on the "stew meat" because you don't know what cuts it consists of.

                                          1. re: Scargod

                                            Lol, chili with no beans or vegetables to me is stewed beef not chili.

                                            As I mentioned above ... all different styles of chili depending on where you grew up.

                                            No rights, no wrongs.

                                            1. re: kchurchill5

                                              Not so! No matter how many fig leaves you offer, chili (or "red"), is basically meat and chiles (in various forms). There's green chili, white chili, chili with beans and, perhaps, there's chili with vegetables. Please just don't call yours "chili" :)
                                              People in New England, the only place I have lived, except for North Texas, love my Red. After the watery, dumbed-down, hamburger meat concotion they usually eat, they think mine is incredible.

                                              BTW, additions to my chili may include Cream Stout, good smoked bacon, (chopped), chopped chipotles, in adobo or chopped green chiles. I don't add masa as I don't like the texture. Sorry Pass... I do use some tomato sauce.

                                              1. re: Scargod

                                                Ditto, Tex for New Mex. Blows their mind to eat the real deal.

                                                1. re: Scargod

                                                  Like I said, Washington, Michigan, Arkansas,, MN, FL all the same as me growing up but transplants everywhere. I don't dislike any, I just prefer mine and there are probably a million recipes out there. Everyone will claim to be the best. MI, would not put beans or veggies, but like I said. Just depends ... I ate TX chili, hated it, I finished mine but OMG, also had their corn bread. Didn't like that either.

                                                  But always respect everyones recipes and their likes. Otherwise we wouldn't have all these great discussions would we.

                                                  All in fun.

                                                2. re: kchurchill5

                                                  no, sorry, chili is a dish of the west, and the vegetables (except chilis and onions, maybe garlic) have no business being there. beans are an ongoing debate and will continue to be so, but kc, what you are making is at best a distant cousin to chili.

                                                  1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                    And to me you are making a glorified beef stew, lol.

                                                    No worries, each is own. I realize that. We all like our favorites. As long as you and your family and friends like it is what is important.

                                                    1. re: kchurchill5

                                                      beef stew has carrots and celery and onions in it, you are the one making stew - or more likely minestrone with chili pepper added. and no, it is not "as long as it is what i like". a friend of mine grew up eating browned hamburger with ketchup. his mom called it chili. that doesn't make it so.

                                                      1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                        Exactly. kchurchill5, you are the one that is making beef stew. You can call it chili but most people would not recognize it as such.

                                                3. re: Scargod

                                                  I guess you've never heard of Chili con Nopales then. Beats the heck out of kidney beans and velveeta.

                                                  1. re: bkhuna

                                                    I have actually eaten Chili con Nopales in New Mexico, but it slipped my mind. Yummy.

                                                    I'm just a proponent (apparently too no avail), that the word "chili", standing alone, should mean something; and eschew a vague, bastardized anything.

                                                    1. re: bkhuna

                                                      Chile con nopales was my lunch every day at work this week. I feel this whole argument about "authentic" has to do w/ regionality. I have spent a third of my adult life each in Maine and in New Mexico (and 1/2 abroad!). Chile is a southwest/hispanic invention, just like chowder is NewEngland/French. The chiles I learned in New Mexico are vastly different from the ones I see in New England. It is a matter of experience and interpretation. In the old southwest chle was a basic meal in an era w/out refridgration. Dried red chiles, charque, dried meat, and garlic and onions formed the base. I miss the green chile mutton and venison chilies with pinto beans playing a very minor role, served w/ hot fresh tortillas that I used to eat on the Zuni reservation. And the rich pork red chile my Old New Mexican in-laws used to serve. It was meant to be served OVER pinto beans, not mixed with them. There was no tomato in any of these. Just like I have a hard time finding good chowder outside New England (sorry New York) I have a hard tme adjusting to this stuff called chile in the East. I just wish they would give it a different name and then I could like it better. It is like someone saying, "Want a hot dog?", and giving you a hamburger, but calling it a hot dog. Sorry, but but I could eat eastern chile a lot eastier if it was called hamburg and bean stew or something along those lines.
                                                      Funny, it was from posts like these that Scargod and I began to correspond and then became good personal chile friends.
                                                      Pax and carpe chile amicus,
                                                      El Viejo Estupido Garaffe

                                                      And now to go make some scrambled egg and chorizo tacos w/ freshly roasted green chiles for breakfast, no kidney beans or "hamgburg" , please. Mmm, gotta make some lamb chile (can't find mutton) chile this week for supper!
                                                      If you like Latin dance music, give "Gracias a ls Vida a listen this morning at eleven (EDST) at WERU.org mainstreamed arond the world, community radio w/ Marco Viejo (me) as your host.

                                                      1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                        I like that hamburger/hot dog analogy. If people want to call their concoctions with beans, veggies, and whatever else, chili, so be it.

                                              2. Chipoltes for heat .

                                                CHOCOLATE, a must. my grandma did it. I still do. Most good chefs do also. Just gives depth of flavor. Nothing fancy, just cocoa powder, or a dark chocolate bar melted in. But prefer the dark cocoa powder.

                                                1. My recipe calls for banana peppers and some of the juice from the jar! It's a great recipe, though.

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: SonyBob

                                                    That would work ... too mild for me. I like real spice, but that does add a nice flavor.

                                                    1. re: kchurchill5

                                                      The spice comes from cumin, Chilio (not a "true" chili recipe), serrano peppers and cayanne pepper. There's plenty of heat. I also use a combination of regular and hot Rotel tomatoes. The banana peppers and juice is just for flavor.

                                                  2. Our chili is beef (round or london broil chopped in the processor ) , ground ancho chili (about 1/3 cup per pound of meat, chopped onion (1 per lb. of meat), 3 or more cloves of garlic ,cumin, mexican oregano, a dash of cinnamon and at least ` tsp of chili flakes. Brown meat well and then add onions, garlic and spices and cook until onions wilt. Add 2 cans of beef broth. Simmer for 2 hrs. or so and if you like add a can or 2 of pinto or kidney beans and cook for another 30 min. or so.

                                                    I know you didn't ask for a recipe, but I just couldn't resist.

                                                    1. Cayenne, chocolate and merken pepper make it unique.

                                                      1. I use equal amounts of beef and pork, usually chuck and whatever cut of cheap pork I can find...and I cut those into fairly small cubes, less than 1". No "stewed tomatoes"...but I do add a tablespoon of tomato paste.

                                                        1. I too use the beef/pork combo. I also mash up the kidney beans into a paste as I've found my kids don't like the texture of the full bean and the mashed beans add body.

                                                          1. Star anise and chorizo.

                                                            1. I started with my mother's recipe (which, thanks to my dad's idiot wife throwing away mom's recipe box, is the only one I have in her handwriting). It's pretty typical midwest chili, except mom added dry red wine, which I do as well. Also, instead of chili powder alone, I mix chili powder, cayenne pepper, black pepper, and white pepper.

                                                              1. Our special ingredient is Rouge Chipolte Ale. It adds just the right mix of hoppy chipolte goodness. Plus it's good to drink along with the chili too!

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: Phoo_d

                                                                  Nice. Its hard to go wrong with almost anything from Rogue. Their Smoke Ale would be a good choice too. Its their version of a Rauchbier and its absolutely undrinkable to me (think liquid smoke with hops...) but I always imagined it would make an ideal marinade for BBQ meats or in things like chili. And Ill probably be drinking some nice pilsner with the chili like a Prima Pils from Victory. Just enough flavor and hops but completely refreshing and wont bog you down while you are eating bowls of spicy chili.

                                                                2. Lamb or venison, or some other meat with a little gamey flavor. Use that for maybe a third of your meat, and the rest beef (chuck or tri-tip, which seems to be what the winners of chili competitions are using these days). I haven't tried goat, but I bet it'd be good.

                                                                  1. Horseradish. Brisket.

                                                                    1. I'll probably get flogged for this but...if anyone does put beans in their chili, try using baked kidney beans. Just adds a little something. I am from New England and make the tomato/bean type of chili.

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: lijaszym

                                                                        Hooray!!, I put lots of beans and tomatoes too. I posted mine. I love beef, also my white bean and my black bean with chorizzo. Want the recipe ... be glad to post. Since this isn't a recipe but special ingredient. Let me know I can post or try my www.simplykatering@blogspot.com. or email me ... kchurchill5@comcast.net. Otherwise glad to repost. I love all chilis but prefer beans and tomato type too.

                                                                        Thanks for sticking up with me I was feeling lonely, :)

                                                                      2. I add come chipotle en adobo and also thicken things up near the end with some toasted corn meal

                                                                        1. Rendered beef kidney suet, it's a heart stopper but really good.

                                                                          1. Damn, I misread this as chilli peppers yesterday.
                                                                            My chilli uses casserole steak, chopped roughly, and takes 2 hours to cook.
                                                                            I do it like a ragu, covering with water and reducing to a thick sauce. Also, I only use a little tomato puree, a lot of spices, different chillis, and... I cheat and use a spice mix with some extra paprika.

                                                                            *edit* Just read through most of the posts, and it seems like most Americans cook their chilli for 2 hours or so. It's a shame in the UK that chilli is considered to be mincemeat, tomatoes, beans and chilli powder.

                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. re: Soop

                                                                              My latest version was about as far from the quick UK style as you can get.

                                                                              I cooked an oxtail in a lightly flavored broth (mainly garlic) till tender, and then stored the meat and broth separately.
                                                                              Later I trimmed off most of the fat from the oxtail pieces.
                                                                              Rehydrated and pureed 1 ancho pepper and 1 pasilla pepper (medium hot peppers, a bit like the Spanish Norra).
                                                                              Sauteed a large onion, garlic, then added the puree and tail pieces.
                                                                              Spices included ground cumin and Mexican oregano (as more pronounced aroma than Mediterranean oregano). Salt and pepper to taste.
                                                                              Added enough defatted broth to make a sauce.
                                                                              Added 1 can black beans with juice - I don't usually use beans, but in this case the beans help absorb excess fat.
                                                                              Simmer another hour or so.
                                                                              As with most stews, this gets better the next day.

                                                                            2. A lot of people don't believe in adding tomatoes to chili but as my brother in law, another chili lover, once mentioned to me there's nothing like biting into a chunk of tomato for relief if the chili's hot. The trick is to take the time and cut up fresh tomatoes, not canned. I spend extra on the best reddest, sweetest on the vine tomatoes at the grocery [NOT Italian!]. Also like to cut huge chunks of celery into my chili, if you add late enough it's a nice crisp texture -if you like celery as I do, but only good if you cut half inch size bites.

                                                                              6 Replies
                                                                              1. re: matzohballguy

                                                                                FYI, never doing another chili post again ... lol.

                                                                                However, when I make it for a big crowd, I usually do take time to use fresh tomatoes and fine cut veggies. Mine doesn't have big chunks of veggies.

                                                                                Sometimes when working like today I had 1 hr to put dinner together. It is at home cooking. I'm on laptop. I made white bean chili, yes canned tomatoes and celery probably too big put good non the less and homemade, not fast food.

                                                                                Sometimes working single moms have to find shortcuts and sometimes they actually work, lol.

                                                                                1. re: kchurchill5

                                                                                  Chili and BBQ seem to be topics that inspire passion, Both are regional dishes that have become national dishes, with wide variations in their makeup, but with many decrying those variations as "not the real thing".

                                                                                  1. re: bbqboy

                                                                                    So true bbqboy. My understanding and forgive me if someone has mentioned in this string already, is that texas makes its chili without beans and new mexico makes it with. The latter seems to be more popular among the general pop. Hey I can't think of a tastier way to eat those healthy black beans even if the texas purists are gonna be offended.

                                                                                    1. re: matzohballguy

                                                                                      I'm not offended... I just like to argue! Hell, I know plenty of Texans that eat pintos and even black beans in their chili.
                                                                                      I offer beans on the side for those that want them. I DO NOT cook beans in with my chili and Passadumkeg, who lived in New Mexico, said that he put his chili on top of beans. So don't start spreading tales about NM cooking them in with the chili.
                                                                                      I just made a quick pot of chili this morning. I cut up a couple of cheap strip steaks for it and used a half-pound of raw Italian sausage in it. I have remnants of an old pot of black beans laying around. Who knows, the two may meet!

                                                                                      1. re: Scargod

                                                                                        Funny, NEVER saw a black bean when I lived in New Mex. A funny story. My dad came to visit us in New Mexico from the east and he loved his "chili". He ordered a bowl of red chile at our favorite, Jaramillo's Mexicatessen, when the steaming bowl of bright red chile arrived, he took a sip and from the hot spiciness, he croaked, "Are you trying to kill your poor father?"
                                                                                        then as he tucked in he asked, " Where are the beans?" to which I replied, "You just ordered a bowl of chile. You didn't ask for any beans." I think this illustrates the basic misunderstanding of eastern and western chile. I don't put tomatoes in either. And I don't order New England clam chowder in Albuquerque.

                                                                                        1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                          I don't think there is anything wrong with ordering New England clam chowder in Albuquerque, who knows they might get it right. But I wouldn't expect to find carrots and celery in it (or chilies for that matter). Just like in New England, I wouldn't expect to find carrots and celery in my chili. It might not be "as good" as what I could find in Albuquerque, Dallas, Flagstaff, or San Diego, but it should be chili, not minestrone with chilies added.

                                                                              2. Special ingredients, tequila & beer.

                                                                                Meat equal parts beef chuck, pork but and lamb leg.

                                                                                6 Replies
                                                                                1. re: Demented

                                                                                  Chuck, freshly toasted cumin seed, ground in a mortar, Mexican Oregano, a combination of chilies...Anchos, Cascabels,Guajillos, etc.that get toasted and then soaked and pureed and strained to make a paste. Onions and garlic of course and a bit of masa harina to thicken. Beans are optional and served on the side so people can add them or not.

                                                                                  1. re: Candy

                                                                                    What time is dinner? Funny, I generally use pork in my chile, because this is the way my in-laws taught me. I guess raising a heffer to slaughter and just eating beef to eat for a year might have something to do with it.

                                                                                    1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                      I find most pork, unless I get it locally from a hog raiser is too lean for good chili. The meat gets dry despite the long slow braise, hence the chuck. It is meatier and fatter than pork. The mouth feel is better. I start with a 7 blade chuck roast if I can get it and go from there.

                                                                                      I did have a co-worker ask me one time in a chili discussion that how I got me chili to be red if I did not use tomatoes. Duh! Chilis!

                                                                                      1. re: Candy

                                                                                        Pork butt, lots of fat and make chicharones w/ the skin. Yum.

                                                                                        1. re: Candy

                                                                                          Yes, I too have often used a 7 roast. Has lots of flavor. Like Pass suggests I also use the pork butt roast for green chili, posole and the like.

                                                                                          1. re: Scargod

                                                                                            Funny how I don't care for beef in chile. I like a good steak and burger, but prefer pork for red or green and always for posole. Must come form my in-laws.

                                                                                  2. Venison! I got so spoiled by Texas venison chili (NO BEANS) I can't eat anything else. At the end of deer season, my boss would have a "chili weekend" at his ranch at an undisclosed location, that included probably a $1B of private aircraft, plus secret service. Many guest hunters during the season took their antlers and heads and contributed the remainder to the chili pot. Over the weekend, the cooks make about 3000 pounds of venison chili, and it was packaged in 2 pound packs to be frozen for future use. We got an allotment based on what we had contributed during the season. A careful scorecard was kept. I was one of the poor bastards who left by automobile and not by jet, but in some years my 40 pounds of chili on the highway was more pleasurable than 10 pounds at 30,000 feet.

                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: Veggo

                                                                                      Elk! the very first bowl of New Mexican chile I ever had was in 1971 helping and old New Mexican friend, Manuel build an adobe addition onto his ranch house. It was made from elk jerky, dried red chile pod, garlic, salt and water on an old wood stove w/ a big pot of pintos bubbling nest to it. When we got done working, he put the pintos in the bottom of the bowl, ladled the elk chile on top and covered it w/ grated cheese and diced raw onion. We sat done w/ the chile and a couple of cold beers to admire our days work and watch the sun set. He told me he'd give me the ranch, if I'd marry his daughter. Sorry, not worth it.
                                                                                      Was your chow at the Vermajo Ranch?

                                                                                      1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                        Many of the deer were from 2 ranches in Webb County, near Laredo, which yield Boone and Crockett trophys. The chili weekend happens at a location where I respect their preference for privacy.

                                                                                    2. Ah - the debate rages - on. I am a tomatoes &, bean (pinto w/ jalapenos) girl. I have won two awards for my chili (That Darn Chili), albeit in Beverly Hills. My secret ingredient, diced potatoes - the starch thickens it up, dry red wine, and beer. I use top quality sirloin, and cook it on high heat with the dry spices first, no liquid, so it sautes, doesn't boil. Top with extra sharp cheddar cheese and red oinon.
                                                                                      Good Luck!

                                                                                      1. Mine is pretty simple. Brown 2 lbs ground turkey, add in a couple cans of black beans (goop and all), 2 cups or so of salsa (so lazy, I know, but you can get some great flavors of salsa these days!), some tomato paste or diced tomatoes, depending on what's around. Then I add some chocolate (semi sweet, eating, chips, whatever I have around), some cinnamon, garlic power and (this might qualify as unusual) a healthy does of balsamic vinegar. I really like the tang and zip it brings.

                                                                                        1. I'm beginning to believe that there should be a new word invented for "near-chili" (Nechil?), while "true chili" should go back to the full name of chili-con-carne. Won't happen, but it would sure reduce the controversy.

                                                                                          True chili would be allowed to have meat (mammal), chilies (in virtually any form), allowable flavorings would include onion, garlic, herbs, salt, pepper, and a thickener. MINOR additions of other flavors (wine, tomato, chocolate, etc) could be argued; however these must not be recognizable as individual ingredients in the final dish. Addition of beans could be a sub-category chili-con-carne & frijoles (some will argue this).

                                                                                          Any other recognizable ingredients (carrots, tomato, celery, corn, cheese, potato, pasta, mushrooms, etc) would change the dish to "nechil".

                                                                                          18 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                                                            The two chili cookoff organizations, ICS and CASI have pretty much nailed this down but nobody's paying any attention. Could we call the stuff with all those ingredients in your last sentence "Nechil Crap"?
                                                                                            Then there's the grandady of them all, where there's real chili made: THE ANNUAL ORIGINAL TERLINGUA INTERNATIONAL FRANK X. TOLBERT- WICK FOWLER MEMORIAL CHAMPIONSHIP CHILI COOKOFF.

                                                                                            1. re: Scargod

                                                                                              Is it in New Mexico; the inventor of the "Anaheim"?

                                                                                              I'd prefer the Hatch Chile Festival in Hatch, New Mexico. Tex, they won't hold it agin' ya.


                                                                                              1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                                Hah! Terlingua, Texas!! In the Big Bend National Park...
                                                                                                There can't be anything wrong with a Hatch Chile festival as long as it includes chili!
                                                                                                Just made mine (yesterday), with mild Hatch chile powder.

                                                                                                1. re: Scargod

                                                                                                  Just yankin' yo' chain, pard. Big Bend, hmmm, awfully close to Mexico. Them Messicans might try and influence Texas chile, if you're not careful!

                                                                                                  1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                                    Dang, boy! An you bein' a teacher an such.... History shows that chili came from the Mexican caballeros. Tejas cowpokes were quick on the uptake and improved on it. As it moved northwards... not so much so.

                                                                                                    1. re: Scargod

                                                                                                      Are you sure it was the caballeros, not the vaqueros? :)

                                                                                                      While I raise that question in a joking sense, there is a real distinction in Spanish. 'Caballero' is a gentleman, a horse-man, deriving from Latin for a horse-groom. The caballero owns the cows (vacas) and ranch, the vaquero is the employee who herds them.

                                                                                                      The San Antonio chili queens were, more likely than not, Hispanic as well.

                                                                                                      1. re: paulj

                                                                                                        You are correct. Mi español no es la mejor.

                                                                                                        1. re: Scargod

                                                                                                          They were homeboys w/ horses instead of lowriders?

                                                                                            2. re: KaimukiMan

                                                                                              Kaimu, great idea, where would tomatillos fit in?

                                                                                                1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                                  But I remember NM(& Colorado and Wyoming) chile verde as being made from Green Chiles, no tomatillos.
                                                                                                  Tomatillos are a low elevation crop.

                                                                                                  1. re: bbqboy

                                                                                                    Yup, I won't argue again. It just depends how high I'm feeling.

                                                                                                    1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                                      I didn't really discover Tomatillos till I lived in Az. for several years.
                                                                                                      Much prefer a Verde made from chiles And tomatillos, but certainly won't refuse
                                                                                                      a bowl of NM style.

                                                                                                      1. re: bbqboy

                                                                                                        I too only started using tomatillos recently. I make a traditional New Mexico pork or chicken green chile, but when using beef, which I don't care for as much, I use tomatillos and/or nopales.
                                                                                                        Do you make any Navajo/Zuni/Hopi style mutton/lamb chiles?

                                                                                                        1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                                          never learned those, as I was in Phoenix, but wish I had.

                                                                                                  2. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                                    Seems to me tomatillos would be in the "added if you cant tell" section, but I'll leave that up to the experts. Perhaps as has been noted they could be included in the chili verde category, but that is possibly separate from the chili-con-carne. Or should chili-con-carne have rojo and verde sections?

                                                                                                    im getting confused again....LOL

                                                                                                    1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                                                                      Tomatillos are present in about half ot these ICS championship chile verde recipes

                                                                                                2. The regional differences in southwest chili are as varied as with eastern barbecue. Texas chili has no legumes, and few vegetables. Lots of meat; never pork. Texas chili is a bowl of crushed meat with zesty flavorings. Meat is the dominant ingredient.
                                                                                                  Chili in NM, AZ, and CO is vegetable-based soup or stew, with lots of mild chili's, some tomatoes and onions, and pork remnants. Meat is a bit player.

                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                  1. re: Veggo

                                                                                                    Tomatoes? Not in my experience. And the CV in Az was a lot different than the high country
                                                                                                    versions. I was taught to add citrus juice of some type, usually lemon juice but really anything that was growing in the yard. Squeezed orange and grapefruit are interesting to add.

                                                                                                  2. I think we can all say there is no answer to the chili debate ...

                                                                                                    And who is to say where chili began. My grandmothers grandmother has a old recipe similar to what I make written in a ol' diary. She called in Beef Chili. And she wasn't from TX, Michigan. And by damned, it had celery, onions and BEANS. So regardless ... of what you put in it. Chili is what you call it. Many variations with different meats and seasonings and beans and ingredients.

                                                                                                    I don't care what you call it it still is considered chili. My black bean won 1st prize in MI. And OMG, it had beans, celery, onions, garlic, chorizzo, etc. We still called it chili.

                                                                                                    I'm not saying it is traditional ... not sure anyone has the right to call just one recipe or style traditional. I got a recipe from a friend over in the Land Down Under ... They also make chili and it certainly is not like ours. My friend over there has won several local cookoffs. It isn't quite TX chili trust me.

                                                                                                    24 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: bbqboy

                                                                                                        My recipe or the aussie one ... I'm sure the aussie is what you meant?. I will email him to get it. I had it once when he visited and he made it for a Sunday football game we watched and trust me not like chili I had before. I'm sure he would send the recipe. I will be glad to ask and share. I will try to post as soon as I get it. He is good at checking emails. Love to share those recipes from overseas.

                                                                                                        1. re: kchurchill5

                                                                                                          as long as it doesn't involve kangaroos :)

                                                                                                          1. re: bbqboy

                                                                                                            I hope not, because I really enjoyed it.

                                                                                                      2. re: kchurchill5

                                                                                                        Certainly the range of interpretations is part of the fun in both the cooking, and the suspense and anticipation in the eating. I can't think of many other dishes, or any at all, that offer such lattitude.

                                                                                                        1. re: Veggo

                                                                                                          I second that and it has been entertaining, educational and enjoyable.!

                                                                                                        2. re: kchurchill5

                                                                                                          kchurch, hope i never implied that your dish was anything less than delicious. i'm sure it is... just not what i consider to be chili. :-)

                                                                                                          1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                                                                            No worries here. Everyones is different. This is what these discussions are all about. I'm sure you're is too .. I just like mine better, LOL.

                                                                                                            Chili is the greatest comfort food around!!

                                                                                                          2. re: kchurchill5

                                                                                                            Ms Church, "And who is to say where chili (sic) began?" The history of chile in Mexico is well documented via the records of Spanish priests and nuns. It is nearly 500 years old for beef, pork and chicken recipes and would date back to the Mayans with the use of turkey. (Eat_nopal, where are you?) Perhaps simply calling one chile and the other chili would suffice. Does your great great grand mother have any good Finnish recipes from the UP?

                                                                                                            1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                                              Though chili, with the 'i' is disowned by Mexicans (Bayless has a quote to that effect). Mexicans do cook meat with chiles, but the roots of the dish that we've been talking about are in Texas. Often the San Antonio 'chili queens' are mentioned, street vendors from around the 1880s. Others talk about the stews made by chuck wagon cooks, using their beef-on-the-hoof, and semi-wild chiles gather along the trail. The spread of the dish through out the rest of the USA seems to have occurred mostly in the early 20th century.

                                                                                                              1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                I'll respectfully disagree. Texas was Mexico until the 1840's and the influence didn't stop then. It was the Spanish who brought beef and pork to Mexico and chile was an immediate use. I avoid Bayless, too much hype(bad attitude I know). Find Mexican sources. Guajalote mole is the national dish of Mexico, dates to the Aztecs and is nothing but a style of turkey chile.

                                                                                                                1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                                                  The Bayless quote that I had in mind was his translations from the Dictionary of 'Majicanismos'


                                                                                                                  "chili (Del inglés chili, abreviación de chili con carne, del español chile con carne.), véase chile con carne."

                                                                                                                  "chile con carne. m. Plato del suroeste de Estados Unidos (territorio mexicano hasta 1845-1848), hecho de carne de res molida, chile picado y especias, que se sirve con frijoles."

                                                                                                                  which roughly translated are:
                                                                                                                  chili - from English 'chili', short for 'chile con carne' (chile with meat).
                                                                                                                  chile con carne - "Dish from SE USA (Mexican territory until 1845-48), made with ground beef, minced chile and spices, which is served with beans.'

                                                                                                                  Bayless's translation (from an earlier, less polite edition ?)
                                                                                                                  "Detestable food that under the false Mexican title is sold in the United States, from Texas to New York."

                                                                                                                  This is from his recipe for 'Carne con chile colorado', which is a pork version from a Chihuahua cook.

                                                                                                                  Anyways, when people talk about the chili queens, they are not focusing on the ultimate origins of the idea of cooking meat with chiles, but rather the evolution of the dish that became popular throughout the USA in the 20th century. Yes, you can find birria, and various moles in Mexican restaurants (in the USA and Mexico), but a ground meat stew called 'chili' or even 'chile con carne' is unlikely.

                                                                                                                  Ever wonder how the name became 'chile with meat', as opposed to 'meat with a chile sauce'?

                                                                                                                  And why are we debating the use of beans in chili? Mexican dishes that use meat and beans together are rare. Most often beans are prepared and served on their own. For some Mexicans they are a separate, end of the meal, dish (refried beans used as a spread are an exception to this). The use of beans, especially chickpeas, in some versions of Menudo has its roots in Spain, not the Americas.

                                                                                                                  1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                    Thanks, I read Spanish. The use of almonds, raisins, and oranges came via Spain from the Moors. Ah! The travel and exchange of food! What did the Indians and Thais do before the export of the chili from the Americas?
                                                                                                                    The Frito pie is a good example. The corn Frito covered w/ pinot beans, covered w/ red pork chile, covered w/ cheese, covered w/ diced onion. A meal in a minute w/ a chef's touch in ...

                                                                                                                  2. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                                                    The preparation of Guajalote mole has little in common with turkey chile. In a mole, dried chiles, spices and nuts are toasted, ground, fried, and simmered to form a sauce. The bird is stewed separately in a lightly flavored broth. Some of the resulting turkey stock is used to thin the sauce. The sauce is then served over the meat.

                                                                                                                    1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                      I cook chunks of turkey right in the mole, like Mrs. Delgadio taught me.

                                                                                                                2. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                                                  She had tons of recipes. She passed on many years ago. She had stories and stories and recipes galore. I have an ol' diary with many, but mostly just her recent ones. My mother has a box that belonged to my grandmother that was her grandmothers recipes. One day I'll be able to copy them all, but for now, I just look through them now and then when I can. She is German and so was her husband so lots of german recipes.

                                                                                                                  1. re: kchurchill5

                                                                                                                    Those old German grandmother recipes raise a question - whether there were old European or earlier American influences in the evolution of chili? For example New England has baked beans, which have some meat (salt pork) flavoring. France has Cassoulet, a bean stew with sausages and duck. Spain has many bean and meat dishes, many of which now incorporate chiles that they got from the Americas. In eastern Europe there are meat stews rich in chiles, which we loosely call goulashes.

                                                                                                                    Cincinnati chili clearly has Greek influences.

                                                                                                                    1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                      My DH made a chili a week ago, I guess it was Cincinnati style. It had cinnamon in it. That was a bit too weird for me.

                                                                                                                3. re: kchurchill5

                                                                                                                  Don't blow a gasket until you share the recipe for your OMG stew! :)

                                                                                                                    1. re: Scargod

                                                                                                                      Do you plan on being at Terlingua this year?

                                                                                                                      1. re: DallasDude

                                                                                                                        You know, I have never been. I have been in the Big Bend area before. I would love to attend the cookoff before I die! The fact that I am in CT now makes it difficult.

                                                                                                                      1. re: bbqboy

                                                                                                                        Revolutionary! The prunes give power to the chili movement!

                                                                                                                        1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                                                          That's a perfect sentence on so many levels!

                                                                                                                        2. re: bbqboy

                                                                                                                          I like chile that's thick, sweet (not super sweet, but a little sweet) and very hot - the prunes help with the first two points. And assisting the Revolutionary Chile Movement (as dubbed by Passadumkeg) doesn't hurt either - I'm not getting any younger.

                                                                                                                        1. I agree with paulj, chili is not Mexican. My wife is Hipanic, she is from the Rio Grande Valley, her mother is from Guadalajara, and they never eat chili. I make a pretty good bowl of red from a past Terlingua winner, and my wife won't touch it. I've always been under the impression that it was the chili queens in San Antonio in the late 1800's. Right now the dear girl is making carnitas for the Super Bowl. Can I say that or do I have to call it the big game, lest the NFL lawyers come after me?

                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                          1. CHORIZO. LOTS OF CHORIZO

                                                                                                                            1. Here's the most unusual chili recipe I've come across:

                                                                                                                              BUZZARD'S BREATH CHILI

                                                                                                                              (From Tom Griffin, 1977 Terlingua World's Champ)

                                                                                                                              8 lbs.. chuck, coarsely ground
                                                                                                                              3 (8oz.) cans tomato sauce
                                                                                                                              2 onions, chopped
                                                                                                                              5 garlic cloves, finely minced
                                                                                                                              Cumin to taste
                                                                                                                              Oregano to taste
                                                                                                                              Chili powder-lots of it
                                                                                                                              Salt to taste
                                                                                                                              Dried red ants, to taste
                                                                                                                              Cigar ashes - El Producto preferred

                                                                                                                              Method: Brown beef in an iron skillet and transfer to chili pot. Add tomato sauce and equal amount of water. Add onions, garlic and chili powder.

                                                                                                                              Simmer for 20 minutes. Add cumin, oregano, salt and red ants to taste. Simmer, covered for 30 minutes to an hour. Add masa and cigar ashes to achieve desired thickness. Cook 10 additional minutes. Correct seasonings to taste.

                                                                                                                              FWIW: I have never made this...seem's I'm always out of red ants.

                                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                                              1. re: al b. darned

                                                                                                                                Sounds good! Ants to taste... I think I'l put in two, finely ground. Cigar ash? Perfect use for that old one I have laying around somewhere.

                                                                                                                              2. The most exotic ingredients that go into my pot o' red are 1/4 teaspoon of ground clove and some powdered New Mexico green chile. No tomato sauce, and absolutely NO BEANS for the love of all that is holy in this world.

                                                                                                                                PS--There's two types of chili: New Mexico green and Texas red. All others are wannabes.

                                                                                                                                5 Replies
                                                                                                                                1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                                                                                                                  Hows about Cincinnati Chili on spaghetti noodles? Hehe.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: porker

                                                                                                                                    That stuff is so thin and watery I hardly call it chili. The cinnamon makes it taste a little weird too.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: aynrandgirl

                                                                                                                                      The "Hehe" was the sound of my tongue in cheek - some chili guys are very passionate and I was making a lame joke...

                                                                                                                                  2. re: Perilagu Khan

                                                                                                                                    PK: Without onions, especially frickin' dried!

                                                                                                                                    1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                                                                      Akh, moi drug, but they don't stay dry.

                                                                                                                                  3. My chili/chili-like dish uses chopped tri tip, ground beef, onions, garlic, toasted cumin seeds, oregano, a bit of jarred tomato sauce, lots of Indian red chili powder, diced fresh jalapeno, and a bit of unsweetened cocoa powder. Small shakes of cinnamon and cloves; not enough to detect. I find that the mixture of chopped and ground meat gives the best of both worlds -- meaty chunks, as well as beefy goodness that melts into a thick sauce. I do tend to throw in a can of pintos when it's close to done, but it works fine without it. If you do add the beans, it's not much good until it's had a chance to sit in the fridge overnight.

                                                                                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                                                                                    1. re: Scrofula

                                                                                                                                      I like the "chili/chili (chile sic) -like dish" term. How about chilli/chili-like stew? Funny, I'm a religious zealot about my chile, but agnostic about ketchup on hot dogs.
                                                                                                                                      Carpe chow!

                                                                                                                                      1. re: Scrofula

                                                                                                                                        WO the beans, that sounds like a pretty decent formula you've got there.

                                                                                                                                        What is this Indian chili powder of which you speak? Is it a pure powdered chile or a spice blend?

                                                                                                                                        1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                                                                                                                          Just ground red chillies, the kind you get in South Asian groceries.