Chili

School is back in session, but it’s still summer and it’s still grilling season. In the Family Trivium household, this means that we’ll have hot dogs about once per week until the grill gets put away for the winter. One or twice a month, Mr. Family Trivium will be in the mood for chili dogs (hot dogs garnished with chili). Admittedly, the chili usually comes from a can as he doesn’t usually whip up homemade batches until the cold weather has arrived.

We’ve already looked at common hot dog condiments, such as ketchup and mustard, but what is chili? According to Dictionary.com, chili, referring to a chili pepper, is defined as “the pungent pod of any of several species of Capsicum, especially C. annuum longum: used in cooking for its pungent flavor.” The first known usage of the word came between 1655 and 1665, coming from Spanish “chile” and Nahuatl “chīlli.”

When we think of chili as a meal, we are really referring to what Dictionary.com calls chili con carne (Spanish for chili with meat), which is defined as “a Mexican-style dish made with chilies or chili powder, ground or diced beef, chopped onion and pepper, and usually kidney beans and tomatoes.”

In its definition for chili, Dictionary.com also indicates that the word could refer to a meatless version of chili con carne. To meat eaters, such as our family, this doesn’t sound overly appealing, unless you also take away the beans and don’t cook it – that leaves you with chopped onion, pepper, tomatoes. That sounds like salsa, which we’ll consider in a separate post.

The International Chili Society is a non-profit  organization whose rules are commonly used for chili cookoffs. They specify four types of competition chili:

  1. Tradional Red Chili
    • Defined as “any kind of meat or combination of meats, cooked with red chili peppers, various spices and other ingredients, with the exception of BEANS and PASTA which are strictly forbidden. No garnish is allowed.”
  2. Chili Verde
    • Defined as “any kind of meat or combination of meats, cooked with green chili peppers, various spices and other ingredients, with the exception of BEANS and PASTA which are strictly forbidden. No garnish is allowed.”
  3. Salsa
    • A definition is not given, but the rules state that salsa “must be homemade by the contestant whose name and ICS # appear on the Contestant Application. It may be brought to the site that day or it may be prepared at the Cookoff.”
  4. Homestyle Chili
    • Defined as “the cook’s favorite combination of ingredients resulting in a dish seasoned with chili peppers and spices.”

When it comes to chili, Mr. Family Trivium likes them all. Mrs. Family Trivium does not like any. Half of the Family Trivium kids will eat eat salsa or homestyle chili.

Mr. Family Trivium’s favorite chili dish, aside from his own homemade homestyle chili, is a traditional red or a mean green smothering a beef burrito at a good Mexican restaurant. We would love to hear about your favorite chili in the comments.