Chili is one of the all-time favorite foods in the U.S., but most people don’t know the differences between the varying regional types of chili and their history.
First, there are two main types of chili.
One is called “Cincinnati Style” chili and is based on ground beef and Mediterranean spices, tomato paste, unsweetened dark chocolate and chili powder for some heat. This chili is usually more of a meat sauce than it is a chunky stew-like chili. It’s also called “Coney” chili as it was commonly used as a topping for hot dogs called, “Coney’s,” or the original chili dog. This style of chili is also very popular in Detroit for chili dogs and chili fries.
Second, Texas chili con carne (i.e.: chili with meat) is based more on Southwestern U.S. chili peppers and beef, though pork and chicken are sometimes used. Texas chili usually has larger hunks of meat, a rich vinegar, or sweet tomato base and includes a wide range of heat from sweet mild chili to surface-of-the-Sun hot.
Among the first recipes for Texas chili comes from the 1800s and featured dried beef pounded together with chili pepper, salt and suet and dried into a brick to be used as food by boiling it in water on the trail. A hearty meal for heartier times.
Today’s Texas chili is made with a wider range of spices, including cumin, garlic and some of the thousands of types of chili peppers grown throughout the world.
Bean lovers should know that traditional chili does not contain beans. You might raise a ruckus if you request some in your chili in the wrong establishment in Texas.