10 Regional Chili Recipes to Try This Fall
Chili first gained popularity along Texas cattle trails during the 1800s. Regional accents soon attached to the spicy stew, although certain ingredients remain standard to this day: Chili peppers, usually dried, add heat and spice to everything; cumin and garlic are indispensable seasonings. Most chili recipes incorporate meat, some add beans, and others are strictly vegetarian. The point is: There's a chili recipe to suit every taste and almost every occasion, from tailgating with a crowd to a quiet night at home by the fireplace. The dish also makes inexpensive ingredients go a long way. Here are 10 regional chili specialties, some associated with a particular place and others whose components evoke a location.
According to the International Chili Society, this recipe is adapted from the chili cooks whose stalls dotted San Antonio's downtown until the late 1930s, when the health department shut them down. San Antonio chili shuns beans, which are served separately; spurns tomatoes; and in no way can be considered heart healthy. To make it, fry up small chunks of beef and pork in suet and pork fat. Throw in chopped onions and garlic, and follow up with a mess of different types of chilis, both fresh and dried, and some oregano, cumin, and salt. Simmer for several hours.
REAL TEXAS CHILI This regional chili has a lot in common with the San Antonio original, given that it's mostly meat. An updated recipe from Serious Eats calls for a paste made of several types of chilis -- sweet, hot, fruity, and smoky -- added to cubed chuck roast. Simmer in broth for several hours, using masa harina for thickening and cumin, oregano, garlic, and allspice for seasoning. Time lets the flavors marry together.
When chili moved east into Louisiana, it took on the colors of Cajun cooking. As with any other Cajun recipe, the base of this stew is the Big Easy trinity of bell pepper, onions, and celery sautéed in butter. Add the vegetables to browned ground meat and simmer in a sauce of wine and tomato paste with jalapeños, chili powder, and, of course, Louisiana hot sauce. A version concocted by the Cajun Grocer also contains a sweet kick in the form of grape jelly or molasses.
Popularized by the city's Skyline Chili restaurant chain, Cincinnati's claim to food fame usually is eaten under or over spaghetti. And it contains a few singular ingredients, although the preparation starts in a familiar way. Brown onions and ground beef, add beef broth and tomato sauce, and simmer. Sprinkle in the spice mix, which, in addition to the usual cumin and cayenne pepper, contains such seemingly bizarre flavors as cinnamon, allspice, and cloves. Another essential ingredient is unsweetened chocolate or cocoa. A recipe on Food.com purports to be a copycat of Skyline's chili.
Hard by the Pacific Ocean, chili morphed into a dish that uses cooked turkey instead of ground meat (Thanksgiving leftovers, anyone?). Dump cubes of the meat into a sauce made from tomatoes and wine (of course) along with browned onions, garlic, green pepper, and kidney beans. A recipe from Recipeland contains chili powder, fresh cilantro, and red pepper flakes (but no cumin, an omission that should be corrected by every true chili aficionado).
Eaten over hot dogs (known as Coney dogs, for Coney Island in Brooklyn), Michigan chili might have originated in that state but for some unknown reason claims a historical link with northern New York State. This regional specialty is little more than onion, garlic, and ground beef simmered in tomato sauce with chili powder, cumin, celery salt, and cayenne, according to a recipe from Simply Scratch. A big part of the Coney appeal is the mustard, always yellow, that's slathered atop the dogs along with the chili.
No, it's not a typo;, this local chili really is spelled with two l's. Springfield, Illinois, has proclaimed itself the "Chilli capital of the civilized world." What differentiates chilli from chili is the preparation and presentation. Springfield chilli is bare-bones basic: seasoned meat cooked in a sea of hot oil, strained, and served atop a small hill of small red beans. Coarsely ground meat is browned in suet, according to the original (i.e., authentic) recipe published by The Patriot Ledger, and then seasoned with chili powder, garlic, oregano, cumin, and red pepper; no tomatoes, no simmering, and definitely no kidney beans.
The barbecue sauce and country sausage in this regional recipe would make a Texan cringe but win the heart of any Southerner. As laid out by the blog A Southern Soul, ground meat and sausage are browned;, then joined by onion, pepper, celery, and garlic;, and simmered in a sauce that contains tomatoes as well as balsamic vinegar, beer, Worcestershire sauce, and barbecue sauce. This rendition contains both red beans and black, and a little bit of honey.
Boston is not a place normally associated with chili, but then, there are probably few places in the United States without some type of favorite chili. A Boston Marathon chili served up by Epicurious contains both stew meat and boneless pork butt. The meats are browned, as are onion, garlic, and bell peppers, then mixed together and simmered with tomatoes, black beans, and red wine. The stew is flavored with cumin (of course), jalapeños, and chili powder.
Black beans in chili add a hit of color and a touch of the Caribbean for a regional chili recipe that goes down well in Florida. Bobby Flay's version is fairly standard, with cubed beef browned in a pan and punched up with a variety of hot and smoky chili powders, onion, and garlic. The simmering sauce contains beer, tomatoes, and chicken stock, with black beans added near the end and a squeeze of lime to finish things off. The crowning jewel of this recipe, according to its many fans, is the dollop of cumin cream and avocado relish atop the stew.