The craft of making chili is not rocket science, nor is it a mystery. In fact, it is solely the product of general good cooking practices — practices that can improve many favorite dishes, not just chili — and the right ingredients. That being said, there are a few special rules that apply just to chili. Here, we've simmered and reduced our accumulated knowledge down to a few easily digestible morsels.
To put all of this newfound knowledge to good use, we've also rounded up some of our best and most interesting chili recipes. These days, chili seems to be going the way of California Pizza Kitchen — exciting for some, worrisome for others. The parallels that can be drawn with pizza are rather intriguing, or disturbing, depending on your perspective. They're both dishes created by an immigrant population that have become Americanized and exceedingly popular. And in both cases, regional versions have come into being. And with both pizza and chili, we haven't stopped innovating. So we're not just talking about Cincinnati-Style Chili here. Take, for instance, the unlikely combination of pumpkin purée and dark chocolate in this chili recipe, which we developed in-house for our recipe contest, Recipe SWAT Team. Or, is turkey not alternative enough? No problem, we've got bison. And how about butternut squash and avocado on your pizza — er, chili? It is an interesting (or dangerous) thing indeed when Americans get creative with classics.
All kidding aside, however, we think it's actually time to embrace this trend. Think of it as more akin to what happened to grilled cheese, whose transformation with gourmet cheeses, artisanal breads, and creative pairings with sweet and savory ingredients has benefited all. The trick is just not to overdo it. Open your minds and your palates and you might just be pleasantly surprised.
Will Budiaman is the Recipe Editor at The Daily Meal. Follow him on Twitter @WillBudiaman.