Chili is one of America's all-time favorite dishes and its popularity is growing/ According to a recent survey by Bush's Beans, today millennials cook and eat more chili in the winter than baby boomers did. So what makes such a great meal? Bush's found out.
They polled over 1,000 chili-eaters about their habits and learned some fun stuff. For example, the second favorite way to enjoy chili is on a plate. The first? In, not with, bread as seven out of 10 prefer to serve chili in a bread bowl. About 36 percent prefer to create a chili bar with a variety of toppings. And those toppings are pretty interesting.
Aside from the basics like meat, beans and veggies, America got pretty creative with their ideas. Maple syrup, wine, chocolate and balsamic vinegar are just a few of the fun ideas that chili lovers wanted to see in the recipe.
Chef Jeffrey Saad, a regular on Food Network and the Cooking Channel, took up the unique and difficult challenge of creating America's Ultimate Chili Recipe using all the stuff the country wanted.
Why? Because chili is such a fun dish to experiment with. "It is a truly delicious, unique food because the beans are like flavor sponges. They absorb and get along with every spice and flavor. Kind of like Indian cooking, when you start to add a huge array of complimentary spices and ingredients, they start to mingle to create a totally new flavor vs contrasting each other."
America agrees. On average, Bush's Beans learned that people eat chili five times per month during the fall and winter! But that doesn't mean they are sharing their recipes.
The same survey said that only 1 in 3 people will share their chili recipe with others and almost half will never stray from their go-to recipe. Also, 82 percent consider beans an essential ingredient.
"Of course being a one pot dish is so great to have everything happening in one pot. You can sauté and layer flavors with ease," Saad adds.
He stresses, though, that chili is not just a one night meal. It's great for leftovers. "Why not make a chili 'Shepherd's Pie' in a crock pot - Layer chili then top with mash potatoes and bake? Or Chili "joes?" Toast some butter buns and add the chili. Easy!"
Chef Saad also gave us some pre-chili snack ideas. "Put any of Bush's Chili Beans in a bowl with shredded cheese, microwave and serve with chips for an instant 'queso fundido. This is definitely on our game day menu lineup.
While America's Ultimate Chili Recipe does call for meat, Chef says not to be afraid to alter it to please the vegetarians in your life. "Veggies are delicious and many become naturally sweet as their starches convert to sugars in sautéing. Add cubes of sautéed butternut squash with the onions at the beginning. Or oven roast a halved squash with chili powder and then puree and stir into the chili to create huge flavor as well as a natural thickener."
Ready to get cooking America's Ultimate Chili? We've got the recipe and one last piece of advice from Chef Saad: have fun. "It is soul-warming and hearty, great to share and - although it can be super simple - it is a passionate cook or chef's playground to create their own unique signature. Truly endless possibilities."
America's Ultimate Chili Recipe
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 pounds ground beef
- 2 cups diced onions
- ½ teaspoon ground mustard powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin (whole or ground)
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 tablespoons chili powder
- 1 teaspoon cayenne
- ½ cup barbecue sauce
- 1 can (28 ounces) tomato puree
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 2 cups beef broth
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 1 Pasilla or green Anaheim chili pepper
- 4 cloves garlic, diced
- 1 teaspoon maple syrup (or to taste)
- 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 cans (16 ounces each) Bush's Kidney Chili Beans
- 1 cup roughly chopped red onion
- ½ cup cooking wine
- 1 pinch salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 lime, sliced
- Shredded cheese
- Sour cream (to taste)
- In large pot, heat olive oil and sauté half of the ground beef with onions, until meat is dark golden brown.
- Add ground mustard powder, bell pepper, Pasilla chili pepper, and garlic. Cook 5 minutes. Add syrup, cocoa powder, cumin, black pepper, chili powder, cayenne, barbecue sauce, tomato puree, balsamic vinegar, beef broth, maple syrup, unsweetened cocoa powder, salt, beans, and second half of the ground beef to large pot. Break up the meat and stir.
- Simmer 20 minutes. Turn heat to low and keep hot.
- In medium pot, caramelize red onions on medium heat. Add cooking wine, salt, and sugar; simmer until cooking wine is absorbed.
- Mix lime juice and sour cream together.
- Serve in chili bowls and top with choice of toppings, such as caramelized onions, cheese, or lime sour cream.