I must have made chili 10 times, all different ways — chicken chili, chili con carne, chili with corn, chili without corn — and the kids wouldn’t go near it. Until I took a tip from “Fancy Nancy” and made it, well, fancy (and until I also eased up on the cumin, which I suspect was an element that led to previous failures).
It’s the presentation for knee-high critics that often counts the most. You won’t ever find me sculpting scooters out of hot dogs or sharks from watermelons. There are three kids under 5 at my house and I’d need a lot more free time in my life to pull that off. But doing this wasn’t difficult. To make your chili “fancy,” simply spoon and layer it with cheddar cheese into small glasses. Repeat, serve and bask in the success of the moment.
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Chili is one of my fall and winter weeknight staples. It’s one of those things that cooks up easily, is fairly forgiving and can expand endlessly. Whenever I pull out my chili pot, I make it a point to cook up a batch big enough to last for at least two nights and a couple lunches.
My standard approach involves lots of vegetables, a pound of ground turkey, plenty of spices and two or three cans of beans (I tend to use black and pinto beans, but anything I have in the pantry is fair game).
After years of eating bowl after bowl of my improvisational chili, however, my husband sweetly requested that I try to vary my chili game a little. And so, I started auditioning new recipes.
As I’ve searched, I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m not really looking for authenticity (my regular recipe includes Swiss chard). Instead, I want a one-pot dish that has a lot of flavor, features vegetables and beans, and if it includes meat, uses a relatively small amount.
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Once the game is clicked on this Sunday, your chances of stirring a pot come to a screeching halt. You need one-pot dishes that come together — and stay together — throughout your Super Bowl party. That’s why, this week, we’re lining up our favorite chili recipes, ranging from traditional to chicken to white bean. Simmer a pot for the fam or fix it cook-off style. Either way, this Sunday is all about chili.
In the spirit of keeping things easy, consider your slow cooker your most valuable asset. Slow-Cooker Texas Chili and Slow-Cooker Chicken Chili by Food Network Magazine both come to fruition in just about seven no-hassle hours. Simply pile in the ingredients and kick off.
Food Network Magazine’s Chili con Carne (pictured above) is prepared the classic way, while Tyler Florence’s Beef Chili swaps ground beef for tender morsels of cubed beef. For a chili recipe that goes heavy on the beans, Ellie Krieger’s Three Bean and Beef Chili is brimming with black, kidney and pinto.
More chili recipes from family and friends
Warm up with three regional chilis and see why each has a cult following. The experts share their recipes with Food Network Magazine.
In Texas, chili is practically a religion, with one important tenet: Keep it simple. That means no beans and, often, no tomatoes — just beef and spices. “Texas red,” as the locals call it, gets its distinctive dark red color from a big shot of chili powder (a mix of spices that usually includes paprika, cumin and cayenne). Texans cook it low and slow, just like their barbecue, until the chili gets thick and the meat is super tender. Texas Chili Parlor in Austin serves one of the most well-known versions: The Austin American-Statesman called it “legendary,” and owner Scott Zublin says his customers put away up to 250 gallons every week. You can order it mild, hot or extra-hot; the recipe Zublin gave us makes a moderately spicy chili. To turn the heat up or down, just adjust the amount of chili powder. 1409 Lavaca St.; txchiliparlor.com
Try the recipe: Texas Bowl of Red (pictured above)
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This time of year, as the days get shorter and the weather turns chillier, few things are more comforting than a hearty, piping-hot meal that’s loaded with rich, bold flavors. A warming bowl that never disappoints, chili is a cinch to prepare and can be easily adapted to your family’s favorite tastes and ingredients.
Food Network Magazine take everyday chili to a hot new level with its one-pot Spicy Vegetarian Chili (pictured above), made with a fragrant spice mixture of chili powder, cumin and oregano and a single, spicy chipotle pepper in adobo. Fresh, seasonal vegetables and beefy pinto beans add so much heft to this thick and hearty bowl that you won’t miss the meat of a traditional turkey or chicken chili. For simple family-friendly serving, set up a chili bar with an assortment of your favorite toppings, like Cheddar cheese, fresh scallions and more, and let everyone build his or her ideal chili bowls.
After trying countless spoonfuls of chili, the subtleties can really start to evade your palate. Notes of nutmeg and tamarind, at first fresh and fragrant, are soon lost amidst the whirlwind of flavors; hints of coffee and chocolate no longer round off each bite, but instead take refuge behind the lingering heat of poblanos and other hot peppers of the like. Appreciating the nuances of chili can prove a pretty tricky task, but wrapping one’s palate around the subtle differences between competing bowls of the hearty stew, eaten one after another? Nearly impossible. Unless, that is, the entries are as varied as they were at this past weekend’s chili showdown in New York City.
Held in Manhattan’s Chelsea Market, NYChilifest 2012 featured an eclectic list of competitors, including fine-dining establishments like Gramercy Tavern, younger, trendier spots like Roberta’s and even popular Mexican destinations Tacombi and La Palapa. No less eclectic were the competing chilis, which ranged from straightforward ground beef and bean-stocked vats, to short rib-studded, spicy green varieties. We rounded up some of our favorite spoonfuls, as well as a few sights and sounds from Sunday’s chili cook-off.
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It won’t be too tough to go meatless today, as your diet will likely consist of just chocolate and candy corn. However, if you want to squeeze in a good-for-you meal in between your sweet indulgences, we have a ghoulishly good meatless menu for you this Halloween.
Robin Miller’s veggie-friendly chili (pictured above) is full of protein-packed beans, fresh bell pepper and heaping spoonfuls of hot sauce, chili powder and pickled jalapeno. Simply combine the ingredients in a slow cooker and let it do all the work, so you can enjoy trick-or-treating and have dinner waiting at home.
Ladle the chili atop mashed potatoes, polenta or rice, or serve along with Gina’s Cheddar and Herb Biscuits, ready in less than 30 minutes.
Get the recipe: Robin’s Vegetarian Chili
Meatless Monday, an international movement, encourages people everywhere to cut meat one day a week for personal and planetary health. Browse more Meatless Monday recipes.
Use store-bought or leftover chili to create a corn and cheese casserole that can keep in the freezer until you’re ready to eat.
Get the recipe: Chili-Corn Casserole
Browse more of Food Network’s comfort food recipes.
The ultimate fall comfort food, chili is simple and inviting fill-you-up fare. Whether you want to serve a bowl at your next tailgate, as a simple weeknight supper or for lunch on a lazy Saturday, check out our top five chili recipes below to find the best of what beans, veggies and spices can make.
5. Vegetarian Chili — Emeril serves his spicy chili over rice and tops each bowl with sour cream and smooth avocado.
4. Pat’s Famous Beef and Pork Chili — This Neely classic calls for a cup of beer and both black and kidney beans.
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Guy Fieri’s son Ryder loves this turkey chili made with dried pasilla chile peppers, red onions, garlic, ground cumin and cayenne pepper. Make dinner tonight a family event by letting the kids help chop and measure ingredients while you saute the veggies.
Get the recipe: Ryder’s Turkey Chili
Browse more of Food Network’s comfort food recipes.