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In your opinion, what is the minimal definition of "chili"? [Jun. 2nd, 2014|06:58 pm]
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In your mind, what are the dead-minimum ingredients to make something that you can, in good conscience, call "chili"?

For me, it is:
At least two of the following three: ground meat, beans, tomatoes.
Cumin
Oregano
Black pepper
Some form of salt (even if it is added as part of another ingredient, like if you had a hot sauce with a lot of salt in it.)

And that's it. I would feel okay with calling that "chili", even if it wouldn't be very good.

I assume others would have other definitions. For instance, I suspect that the lack of any chiles in this chili might strike some as a definitional problem. Nonetheless, that's my list.

How about you?
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: yendi
2014-06-02 11:09 pm (UTC)

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My bare-minimum is: Beans, ground meat, tomatoes, cumin, cayenne. That said, I haven't made chili without garlic, onions, brown sugar, and salt in ages.
[User Picture]From: metahacker
2014-06-02 11:38 pm (UTC)

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Either of these are minimal chili:
- Beans, chili powder.
- Ground beef, chili powder.

(where chili powder contains a hot spice like chili pepper, cumin, or cayenne, and probably salt.)

I'm told it's a regional thing; a Texas Chili Champion informed me that putting beans in chili was a sin against nature...and I like my chili without tomato. Go fig.
[User Picture]From: yehoshua
2014-06-03 03:02 am (UTC)

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I've been told the same, re: beans, by prescriptivist wankers all my life. It's my dinner, so they can go screw.

My personal recipe:
3 Tbsp oil
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
1lb ground meat (I usually do a 50/50 mix of ground turkey thighs and lamb)
3 16 oz cans of beans, drained. I usually do a mix of varieties.
1 28 oz can of diced tomatoes
3 chiles, seeded and finely chopped (I vary the type of pepper to vary the heat, and keep the number constant to maintain the flavour profile)
1 Tbsp cumin, toasted and ground (this gets left out if buffpixie is home because it bothers her nose)
1 Tbsp cayenne powder
1 tsp kosher salt
A few grinds of black pepper

  1. Sweat the onion in the sesame oil until it starts to clarify slightly, about 3-5 minutes.
  2. Add the chopped peppers and all the spices except the salt. Cook another minute or two until the peppers have started to soften.
  3. Add the meat to this and brown, breaking up any huge chunks of meat.
  4. Add the beans, tomatoes and salt, plus half a tomato can of water.
  5. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and let it simmer for at least an hour.


To do this for Shabbes lunch, do everything up through step 3 in a skillet erev Shabbes, then move that, plus the remaining ingredients, to the crockpot, and treat it like regular cholent from there.

To do this vegetarian, I usually just ditch the meat and sub in an extra can of firm beans like chickpeas.

About the only ingredients you can't leave out and get something edible are the salt and the oil.
[User Picture]From: desperance
2014-06-03 12:04 am (UTC)

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For instance, I suspect that the lack of any chiles in this chili might strike some as a definitional problem.

I would like to confirm your suspection: in the absence of any chillies*, I would aver that what you have there is some variety of stew, but emphatically not a chilli**.

I have never made a chilli without onions, meat, tomatoes and chillies. I always want beans, though I understand them not to be essential. I commonly add stock, always pepper, salt at the end (because it toughens both the meat and the beans). These days I'm more likely to add cumin, oregano, smoked paprika, chipotle, but I don't really consider them crucial.

*UK spelling, very controversial I find over here

**ditto ditto
[User Picture]From: cbpotts
2014-06-03 12:47 am (UTC)

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We add a chili powder blend they mix at the co-op, it has cayenne, powdered chilis, cumin in it. Also cinnamon, brown sugar, onions, and we have to have cheese. One child loves corn in the chili, the other hates it, so that's a battle.
[User Picture]From: pameladean
2014-06-03 01:16 am (UTC)

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Onions, garlic, beans, tomatoes, cumin, oregano, and either commercial chili powder or some blend of individual powdered chiles. I'd rather leave out the chiles than the onions, though.

P.
From: (Anonymous)
2014-06-03 01:52 am (UTC)

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beans are optional, but onions and garlic are a must.
[User Picture]From: wcg
2014-06-03 04:25 pm (UTC)

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Chili powder
Some kind of broth
Something to simmer in the broth and chili powder solution

Generally that "something" would be meat that starts out tough and softens as it's simmered in the spice and broth solution. But it could be almost anything edible. The point of the exercise is to make something that is initially marginally edible into something tasty and easily digestible.
[User Picture]From: ellettra
2014-06-03 07:20 pm (UTC)

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I don't eat meat, but I make a damn fine vege chili. For me, it must contain chili powder, beans and tomatoes at a minimum. But last week I made a yummy quinoa, chipotle, sweet potato, black bean chili that totally rocked.