Although most things about chili are up for debate -- including its origins and how it should be made -- there's no doubt that it's a dish that has captured the imagination of American cooks from coast to coast. The amount of heat and what types of pepper to use are often disputed, and that's probably the real beauty of chili. It's a dish that inspires deep feelings, with thousands of popular recipes.
With so much chili goodness out there, you're bound to find a style that suits you. Have a vegetarian in your house? Try making a meatless chili, and then serve meat on the side for other members of the family. They can mix the meat in their portion, and everyone gets what he or she wants.
If you're planning on trying your hand at fixing up a pot of chili, keep these things in mind:
- The heat in chili peppers is mostly in the veins, the white inner part of the fruit, and in the seeds.
- Wash your hands thoroughly after chopping chili peppers.
- Different peppers heat different parts of the palate, and using a variety can enhance the taste of chili by creating levels of heat.
- Designer chili can be interesting and easy to make. Indulge your love for new foods and experiment. Try using a different variety of beans, or add new flavor to your chili with beer, honey, liquid smoke or tomatillos. Look in your cupboards for something pungent, and walk on the wild side. This is the time to see what your spice rack has to offer.
- Make the most of your dried peppers, cinnamon, allspice, and cumin by grinding them fresh for your chili.
- Want a chili that will suit the whole family? Reduce the heat by adding the bulk of the hot peppers to only a quarter or a third of the recipe. That way everyone can pick a temperature that suits him or her.
Chili is economical to make, and you can double or triple recipes easily. Freeze the extra, and serve it on the next cold evening. There's nothing like a bowl of chili to make you feel warm all over.
Want to learn more about sure-fire meals that will be a hit at your house? Check the links on the next page for interesting information and recipes.