Chili can be enjoyed lots of different ways, but one of the oldest American versions is Chile con Carne, which means chili peppers with meat. Most current recipes for this dish include beans, tomato sauce, chili peppers or chili powder, and ground beef or cubes or strips of chuck. Back on the American frontier, settlers made a chili dish out of dried beef, dried chili peppers, a little suet, and salt. The ingredients were mashed together and made into dried bricks that could be stored and used throughout the winter. Yum, right? Or not!
Since I love chili, and I’m always playing around with different versions of it I was glad to learn that my hometown played a significant role in chili’s current culinary prominence. The 1893 Columbian Exposition hosted in Chicago featured a food stand serving San Antonio Chili. This style of the dish contained beans and was tasted by exposition visitors from around the globe.
Lately I’ve been playing around with a chili recipe that uses roasted red bell pepper meat in place of tomato sauce. The resulting purée imparts a slight sweetness to the chili that doesn’t cloy. Other fun ingredients to try in chili are onions, garlic, and mole sauce. When you’re in a hurry you can get mole’s slightly chocolaty flavor with a little unsweetened cocoa powder. And since chili freezes well it’s a great dish to make in large quantities for reheating and recycling during busy weeks, or freezing to use in subsequent ones. Frozen portions can be kept to one-dish size and pay homage to the old chili bricks used on the American frontier.
What’s your favorite chili dish? Be sure to enjoy it this week and share your recipes with our readers. However you eat your chili, have a happy and satisfying National Chili Week!
Photo Courtesy of Easy Weekly Meals