Frontier cowboys may lay claim to the spread of chili's popularity throughout today's suburban kitchens, but the inspired mingling of meat, beans, and spicy peppers in a stewpot dates back to the Incan, Aztec, and Mayan civilizations of the pre-Columbian Americas. Texans omit the beans in classic chili con carne with beef, New Mexicans opt for pork and Hatch chilis in chile verde, and white chili bucks convention with poultry and navy beans.
According to The International Chili Society (of course that's a thing), the taste "...should consist of the combination of the meat, peppers, spices, etc, with no particular ingredient being dominant, but rather a blend of the flavors." You can achieve chili cookoff quality at home with the long-simmered approach, making chili a great choice for the cooler days of fall and cozy nights of winter.
01 of 07
This vegan version combines canned black beans, tomatoes, onions, garlic, olive oil, and classic chili spices in a quick and easy recipe.
02 of 07
This recipe harkens back to the frontier days when trail cooks used whatever they could shoot, trap, or capture to feed their hungry cowboys. Meats such as bison, venison, rabbit, and rattlesnake regularly made it into the pot. Buffalo earns acclaim today as a lower-fat alternative to beef.
03 of 07
This recipe tweaks the standard meat-to-beans ratio, with 5 pounds of ground beef and only one small can of pinto beans. The result balances the meat-only credo with a "blink and you might miss it" hint of earthy bean flavor and underlying creaminess.
04 of 07
This chili packs its punch with lots of heat: fiery salsa, red pepper flakes, cayenne, and chili powder all go into the pot. A generous portion of textured vegetable protein (TVP) gives it a chewy, meaty texture.Continue to 5 of 7 below.
05 of 07
The flavor of this chili may actually improve with a chilly rest, so make a double batch, and stash half for a home-cooked meal-in-a-minute repeat. Thaw and reheat it with a small amount of water and cornstarch to thicken the stew.
06 of 07
Made with lean cubed chicken breast, this chicken chili gets a sunny brightness from corn and lime juice. Garnished with sour cream, chopped red onion, and fresh cilantro, it's a delicious dish to add summertime warmth to even the coldest of days.
07 of 07