While you're frying up some eggs and bacon, we're cooking up something else: a way to celebrate today's food holiday.
Some like it hot - October is National Chili Month!
This hearty, slow-cooked stew will warm you from the inside out. While the inclusion of certain ingredients like beans and tomatoes will cause a hot debate among people from different regions of the country, almost everyone can agree: Chili just isn't chili unless it has chili peppers.
One of the world’s first cultivated crops, the chili pepper's origin can be traced back to South America. According to food magazine The Nibble, Christopher Columbus was the first European to "discover" chilies. He called them pimientos, the Spanish word for pepper, because the spiciness reminded him of peppercorns. The two plants, however, are not related.
Chilies are high in vitamin C. Some of them are also high in the chemical capsaicin, which gives them their heat. Capsaicin is both the active ingredient in pepper spray, as well as topical arthritis treatments.
Kate Krader (@kkrader on Twitter) is Food & Wine's restaurant editor. When she tells us where to find our culinary heart's desire, we listen up.
In the Hall of Fame of holiday foods - gingerbread men, roast prime rib, potato latkes - chili is what you’d call a holiday underdog. Unless you’re a major player in the competitive chili circuit, it’s probably not a big part of your Christmas tree decorating or stocking stuffing. (And even if you are a chili champion, hopefully you know where to draw the line.)
Still with all the monumental things people are doing with chili these days, I just might shake up my holiday menu. Maybe my family will decorate bowls of chili instead of cookies? Just thinking.
Welcome to round four of Spouse vs. Spouse, a series in which a couple of married food freaks, CNN’s Brandon and Kristy Griggs, square off in their Atlanta kitchen for culinary bragging rights – and invite you to weigh in too.
In each installment, Kristy and Brandon will each cook a creative variation on the same ingredient or dish – everything from pasta to seafood to cocktails to desserts. We’ll serve both versions anonymously to our friends, who will then judge which one they like better and why. We’ll walk you through our kitchen process, bring the husband-and-wife smack talk and, of course, keep score. We’ll also share our recipes here so that you can try them for yourself.
Pssst! I'm gonna share my family's decades-old chili recipe. You're going to want to write this down.
Step one: Get in the car.
Step two: Drive to the nearest Skyline Chili.
Step three: Order a four-way with onions - that's Cincinnati-style chili over spaghetti with neon orange shredded cheddar and chopped onions - or possibly a cheese coney.
Step four: Consume with a Diet Pepsi (I'd rather a Diet Coke, but when in Skyline...) with a big blue straw and sop up the remaining chili puddle with oyster crackers.
I grew up in Northern Kentucky, right across the Ohio River from Cincinnati. It may not be right, but it's what we do. My mother also often made a substance she claimed was chili - an unlovely amalgam of ground beef, kidney beans, tomato paste, onions and chili powder. On occasion there were slices of American cheese. We...don't really talk about that.
There's clearly a better way - as evidenced by the blizzard of chili cook-off announcements stacking up in my inbox. School me on your ways and means in the poll and comments below, and for your trouble I'm sharing a little something from my personal cookbook collection.
Fall holds two certainties in the realm of food - pumpkin-flavored everything and chili. One spoonful of the spicy stew can warm the body from the inside out.
Perhaps it’s the recollections of your grandmother’s dish on a crisp fall day. Or maybe it’s enjoying a heaping bowl while tailgating before a football game. Whatever the reason, chili is a must-have cold-weather dish, enjoyed equally at a cook-out or dinner party - and especially as leftovers.
“The one great thing about chili is the recipes are really kind of guidelines,” said Stephanie Anderson Witmer, author of Killer Chili: Savory Recipes from North America’s Favorite Restaurants. “People can change it depending on their tastes.”
Though many families have hand-me-down recipes, Anderson said there are a few things to remember when concocting your stew. Namely, chili can be as unique as the chef stirring the pot.