A good chili recipe is as personal as a particular brand and style of underwear. One size does not fit all.
I recently saw a recipe for “the world’s best” chili. It called for cubed tri-tip steak, brown sugar, cumin and paprika — among other basic ingredients — and that was a good start, but it had no chili powder and no beans! How can that be considered “the world’s best”?
But see, everyone has a different perspective on chili. I think Cincinnati-style chili is delicious. It’s made with a little unsweetened chocolate and cinnamon, and it’s served over spaghetti with shredded cheese and chopped white onions on top (that would be considered as “four-way”). Apparently, the food company I work for once offered this sort of chili mix. While discussing it today, the Texans with whom I work found it unappealing. I guess it was a poor seller, too, which is why we no longer offer it, but in Cincinnati, it’s the only way to chill-i!
Some people think chili should be so spicy hot it’s rendered practically inedible. Some folks think “white chili” is a misnomer. Some aficionados think ground beef is a required ingredient.
I think chili must have both onion and green pepper (and if I have red pepper in the fridge then that, too). It needs some heat but not too much (I’ve found a little chipotle pepper in adobe sauce goes a long way). For nuance, it needs something “sweet” (I’ve used unsweetened cocoa powder, molasses or brown sugar in the past). And it must have beans — three-bean chili with black, white and chili beans is quite good.
My Beloved makes a mean chili. He uses leftover cubed steak or pork, kidney beans and, of course, lots of chili powder. I make him add green pepper and cumin. His chili is pretty darn good, but when he made it last week, he asked me if it was “the best chili I ever tasted.”
I couldn’t answer yes.
The best chili I think I’ve ever enjoyed was made by my sister, who I sometimes chide for being sort of unadventurous in the kitchen. But she got it right when she made chili with black-eyed peas! Oh, these black-eyed peas were so smooth and delicious! I don’t even recall what meat she used, but that bodacious brew hit all the right flavor notes. For me at least, it was the world’s best.
As noted by a reader in this forum once, different kinds of food require different kinds of drinks for different kinds of people. For me, the perfect beverage to go with chili: A Corona beer with lime.
What are your chili favorites? And what’s your beverage of choice?