Chili Nation caught my eye as I was perusing the food-book shelves at my local library. Chili is one of my husband’s favorite dishes and I’m always open to trying a new chili recipe. (Not that he is open to eating new recipes but, more about that later.) I took the book home, sure that I would find some gems inside.
Chili Nation is written by the (now ex) husband and wife team of Jane and Michael Stern. They have spent their careers traveling around the US and writing quite a list of books about the food they find wherever they go. I’m very fond of their books and have mentioned two of them to you on this blog. (500 Things to Eat and Road Food – click the titles for my post.)
In Chili Nation the authors focused on the various forms of chili they found in all fifty states. I honestly didn’t think there could be that many different variations. I think of chili as a mix of ground beef, beans, and other veggies like onion, tomatoes, green peppers and hot peppers. My youngest daughter makes a very good white chili with chicken and white beans, so I wasn’t surprised by that variation, but I was by some of the others. Here are a few:
- Connecticut’s Herb Garden Springtime Chili: lots of fresh herbs with scallions, chicken and potatoes
- Georgia’s Pork and Peanut Chili – ground pork, shelled peanuts, spices, served over rice
- Cincinnati, Ohio’s Five-Way Chili: five layers: spaghetti, meat sauce, beans, chopped onions and cheddar cheese
- Virginia’s Apple and Nut Chili: pork loin, Granny Smith apples, peanut butter, onions and hot peppers
- Kentucky’s Bluegrass Burgoo: lamb, chicken, pork sausage, lima beans, corn, and okra
Do you get the idea? I liked reading about all the different ways to make my husband’s favorite dish. The only problem is this: if I put one of those dishes in front of him and called it chili, he would not be interested in eating it. To him, those dishes aren’t chili. What my husband likes is a middle-of-the-road, old-fashioned chili made of beef, beans, onions, hot peppers, garlic and tomatoes.
One recipe that both he and I like is one given to me by a fellow blogger, Alex at The Children’s War almost two years ago. It’s called Chili a la Franey. We also like my own “throw-it-together” version. It’s not always exactly the same as I may have different items on hand. This week I made the chili you see in the pot above. Here’s what is in it:
Margot’s Throw-It-Together Chili
- About 2 cups of leftover beef roast, shredded
- Approxiately 1 1/2 cups of cooked hamburger
- 1 cup of cooked sausage
- About 2 cups of leftover pinto beans, cooked
- 1 1/2 chopped onions
- 3 cloves of garlic chopped
- 1 Anaheim chili, chopped
- 1 large can of diced tomatoes
I put all that in a pot and then pulled out my spices. I didn’t measure exactly but I’m pretty sure this is what I did: 3 tablespoons of chili powder, 1 tablespoon of cumin, 1 teaspoon of mexican oregano, 1 teaspoon of paprika. I didn’t salt and pepper it because the meats had all been seasoned previously. I did add a teaspoon of sugar to the pot – just because I always do. Then I let it slow simmer for a while so all the flavors have a chance to mingle.
This made for a very spicy, meaty chili, which my husband rated as Superior. My husband likes his with saltines. I put a few Fritos on top of mine with a little sour cream and shredded cheese.
That’s my version of a good chili. How do you like yours?
This post is linked to Weekend Cooking, a weekly feature at Beth Fish Reads. Click the button below and it will take you there.