Rich and Hearty, Mild or Spicy - Chili

The origin of chili is a matter of great debate and there are many out there that have attempted to chronicle the history. For me it's not so much about where it came from or when, it's about what I will put into my next pot. Many lay claims to originating the stew we now know as chili. There seems to be no doubt that chili was a staple during times when meat was in short supply and the cook’s creativity was challenged. That challenge is alive an well today.

Many states in this great land claim to have the best Chili. Texas, New Mexico, California, Cincinnati, Ohio, and even Mexico, would have you believe that they are the originators of authentic Chili and home to the best bowl. As the controversy rages on Chili cook-offs are held every year in ever corner of America. And every Chili cook knows that his or her secret recipe is - really the best. Attend any chili cook-off and I'm sure you'll agree - they are all good.

There are similarities to all the recipes - a combination of meat, beans, chili peppers - but it's the combination, the type of meat, the type of beans, the type of chilies and the spice combination, spicy or mild or somewhere in between that set off the differences - making chili one the home cooks all time favorite dishes. Many experiment with each batch - no batch being quite the same (I fall into that category), while others follow exacting recipes many perfected over generations.

Regardless of which camp you fall into there is no arguing that a steaming, hot bowl of chili with your favorite toppings is comfort in a bowl - just the thing to warm the body and boost the spirit on cold evenings.

So whether you make it spicy, mild, or somewhere in between, you can tailor your pot of chili to your particular tastes. Experiment and make something incredible!

Recipes offers up some great chili recipes this month. Try Black Bean Chocolate Chicken Chili, Dutch Oven Chili, Vegetarian Chili or Hot and Spicy Chili.

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