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Does Real Chili Contain Beans? How Do You Make Your Bowl Of Red?

raul taborda

Chili is the perfect hot-meal compliment to the cold winter weather we’ve experienced the last month or so.  A piping hot “bowl of red” warms the core and sticks to your ribs – just the kind of food Northlanders love.  Most folks can agree on this.

The disagreement usually starts with what goes into the recipe.   What actually constitutes the dish commonly called chili. Is your chili tomato-based and red in color or cream-based and white in color?  Do you use beef or hamburger?  Chicken?  Wild game?  Are there beans in your chili or not?  Onions?  Peppers?  Corn?  Cilantro?  Chances are, your recipe for chili is noticably-different than than your neighbors – or even your family members.

But back to the basic question:  Does your chili contain beans or not?  Chances are – it depends on where you grew up or where your recipe evolved from.  Texas-style chili usually doesn’t contain beans, while New England and Midwestern chili’s usually do.

The contention between the “no bean” and “with bean” camps came to a head in 1999 when the Chili Appreciation Society finally ruled that cooks are banned from including beans in their entries to any cook off sponsored by the organization.

So what do you put in your chili?

[For the record, the author is a ground beef, tomato-based, no-bean type of chili cook – who also includes diced onions and bell peppers in his concoction]


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