Chili: a warm concoction of ingredients such as meat, chile peppers, and at times beer and cocoa, which is appropriately celebrated during the month of October: National Chili Month. A simple and ancient food with a wide variety of recipes, it is the focus of chili cook-offs, the name of a chain restaurant—Chili’s—and the focus of Joe Cooper’s book, “With or Without Beans: An Informal Biography of Chili.”
To commemorate National Chili Month, famouschilirecipes.com recommends formulating a new family chili recipe, hosting a chili party or having a chili cook-off. When creating a new family recipe for chili, have each family member pick an ingredient to include in the new recipe. Ingredients could range from corn to mushrooms, according to the website.
“One way to host a chili party would be to have everyone bring a predetermined ingredient for the chili to the party. The ingredients can be added in as guests arrive,” advise the chili experts. A chili cook-off consists of each guest bringing, tasting and voting on the best chili that was made by the guests. Recipes can be shared, if desired.
Elizabethtown College students can purchase chili at several local restaurants in order to warm up on a cool day. T.J. Rockwell’s, The Etown Diner, Country Meadows Restaurant, Flowers in the Kitchen, Hoss’s and Chili’s (the nearest is located in Harrisburg, according to chilis.com) all serve chili. Flowers in the Kitchen even dishes up a unique white chili along with the traditional recipe, according to a phone interview. Hoss’s serves a solid and standard meaty chili recipe on Tuesdays, according to a phone interview. According to a phone interview with the Chili’s located on Manheim Pike, all of the chain’s chili is bean-free. It’s a little bit spicy too, as Chili’s is a Southwestern-style restaurant.
According to foodnetwork.com, chili is among the preferred dishes of their readers and viewers. Because of this love for chili, the Food Network recommends chicken chili recipes, beef chili recipes, and bean chili recipes in order to satisfy all tastes. Despite its popularity, there are some people who do not care for the dish. “I don’t like chili,” sophomore Kimberly Grouser said. However, with a wide variation in recipes, there is a good chance that one of them will appeal to even a picky eater.
Among the suggested chicken chili recipes from foodnetwork.com are instructions on how to make white chicken chili, chunky chicken chili, easy cheesy chili chicken and Matt Hasselbeck’s comeback chicken chili. Beef chili recipes include no bean beef chili, beef chili with red beans and chocolate and beef rib chili. Among the suggested bean chili recipes are veg-head three-bean chili, Emeril’s two-bean turkey chili, wholesome bean chili and Emeril’s vegetarian microwave black bean chili. The listed cooking times for the beef chili recipes ranged from 15 minutes for the veg-head three-bean chili to eight hours for Sandra Lee’s five bean chili. Cooking skill levels range from easy to intermediate.
According to momswhothink.com, the best chili recipes include not only expected ingredients like ground lean pork, chili powder and flour, but also unexpected ones like a can of beer or a teaspoon of unsweetened cocoa. “It was the blue ribbon winner at a chili cook-off, garnering a prize worth $20,000 according to the recipe book it came from,” according to momswhothink.com. “With surprise ingredients like beer and unsweetened cocoa, the blend of seasonings and flavors creates a mouth-watering chili that will have them begging for the recipe. For the brave souls who like more fire, double the hot sauce to kick it up a notch.”
The International Chili Society ICS was established in 1967. “The World’s Championship Chili Cookoff (WCCC) is the annual ICS event that truly brings out the best of the best when it comes to chili.” This year’s winner: John Jebson with the chili named: John’s Chili, according to chilicookoff.com. Other winners with more creative names included 2005’s Doug Wilkey with Dog Breath Chili, 1993’s Cathy R. Wilkey with Puppy’s Breath Chili, 1972’s Howard Winsor’s Howard Winsor World Champion Chili, and 1970’s Wick Fowler’s 2 Alarm Chili.
According to chilicookoff.com, “Chile refers to the pepper pod, and chili to the concoction. The e and the i of it all.” Pods also range in types. According to chilisalsa.com, sweet bells, sweet banana and pimento are the mildest chile pepper types, while red savina habanero and indian tezpur chile peppers were deemed the peppers with the highest heat level.
Chili, in fact, has a long history. According to chilicookoff.com, “The mixture of meat, beans, peppers, and herbs was known to the Incas, Aztecs and Mayan Indians long before Columbus and the conquistadores.”
“Chili buffs in San Antonio –and in most of Texas, for that matter–say the stuff called ‘chili’ was invented there, probably by ‘Chili Queens,’ women who dotted the Military Plaza and sold highly seasoned brews called ‘chili’ from rudimentary carts, all though the night, to a cadre of customers who rode in from all over the prairies to singe their tonsils,” according to chilicookoff.com.
So celebrate National Chili Month this month by warming up a nice hot cup of chili, because as first-year Theresa Forcellini said, “Chili’s pretty good.” Good enough that it is associated with cook-offs dedicated to its honor, an International Chili Society and a rich history.