How are you celebrating National Chili Day?

So, it’s finally here, the day that comes only once a year. . . UNC Press’s Chili Night.  And this year it falls on a chilly night indeed.

But why should you care?  Well, I’d say, because what’s better on a cold, windy night than warm chili?  Isn’t that reason enough?  If you need another reason—if you’re like that—you need to know that today is also, by your great good fortune, National Chili Day.  Did we plan this?  No.  But it does seem that fortune smiles on us in this matter.

Chili Night:  Its beginnings are lost in the mists of time.  It just is.

What will be in store tonight?  There will be three, count em, three pots of chili: David’s (our Venerable Editor in Chief) famous chili, and Robbie’s (our Esteemed CFO) equally famous chili.  Not that this is a competition.  Of course it’s not, but still.  We’re just saying.  So David and Robbie cover the con carne options, and of course, we will also have veggie chili, made by Heidi (our Most Honorable Design and Production Manager).  And fixins, of course there will be all the fixins.

But enough about us.  How will you celebrate National Chili Day?  A cook-off?  A bowl and nice big hunk of cornbread at your favorite diner (and my choice would be Elmo’s chili and cornbread, if you’re near Durham or Carrboro).  Or, you can break out the pots and pans and try your hand at it.  I’d give you David’s or Robbie’s or Heidi’s recipes, but they’re not talking.

Since that’s the case, we’ve turned to our books to give you some recipes, in case you’d like to participate, along with us, and raise a glass at the same time we are, in Carrboro, NC.  Here are two recipes for you, one from Marion Brown’s Southern Cookbook, and the other from Cooking the Gullah Way Morning, Noon, & Night.

As Marion Brown writes, “Chili Con Carne, according to ‘Sally Ann’ (La Cocina Mexicana), ‘is no such basic staple of diet in Mexico as it is supposed to be—but is an Americanized dish.'”  That Marion Brown, she’s a stickler!

Cut pieces of pork, beef, veal, or mutton into chunks about ½ inch square, and fry until crisp in very hot fat with a chopped clove of garlic. When meat is browned, pour in enough sauce of chili Colorado (which you have already prepared and have in the refrigerator) to cover the meat and let it boil. Add cooked frijoles (pinto beans) if you like, and never hesitate to put in a few pieces of onion and green chili. Chili con carne is best served on hot steamed rice along with a green salad and plenty of good strong hot coffee. It is an excellent way to utilize leftover beans.

From La Cocina Mexicana, by “Sally Ann,” Food Editor, El Paso Herald-Post, El Paso, Tex.

And also from “Sally Ann,” Chili Colorado (Red Chili Sauce) is made thusly:

“The base for all red and all hot sauces used in Mexico and Mexican cookery is made as follows, and no substitute, such as chili powder or tomato will do:

“Put a pound of dried red chili peppers to soak in hot water for about an hour. Drain and clean out the veins and seeds. Put through the meat grinder with one large onion and a clove of garlic.  Strain and put in salt and pepper. Place the resultant pulps and the water in which the peppers soaked in a glass jar and keep in the refrigerator for future use. The flavor of the chili can be varied by the kinds of peppers used.  Some red chili is hot and some sweet. Most cooks prefer a chili Colorado made of half hot (picoso) and half sweet (pasillo) peppers.”

Mrs. Manuel Rodarte, from La Cocina Mexicana, by “Sally Ann,” Food Editor, El Paso Herald-Post, El Paso, Tex.

But I’d like to give you some options.  Perhaps you cannot quite handle such a definitive recipe.  Perhaps you do not abhor a tomato to the extent that “Sally Ann” does.

Here, then, is Sallie Ann Robinson’s  Carolina Chili:

When you think of eating chili, most times it’s when the weather is cool. But eating chili can be good all year round, whether you like your chili with beans or ground meat, hot or mild. As with most soups today, it is easier for us to put it all in a crock pot and be on our merry way. Here is one way that I like to cook up a big pot of chili. Some like it with beef; I like it with beer and pork.  This is a real treat.

Disyah da way fa do it.

2 pounds lean ground beef
1 pound lean ground pork
3 ½ cups onion, chopped
1 ½ heaping tablespoons garlic, minced
1/3 cup green bell pepper, chopped
1/3 cup  red bell pepper, chopped
3 tablespoons chili powder
4 ½ cups fresh tomatoes, diced
¾ cup tomato paste
1 teaspoon cumin
2 bay leaves
black pepper
2/3 teaspoon dried oregano
4 cups red kidney beans (optional)
1 ½ cups shredded cheddar cheese

In a large soup pot, brown the ground beef and pork. Add the onion, garlic, and bell peppers. Cook over medium heat until tender. Add the chili powder, tomatoes, tomato paste, cumin, bay leaves, black pepper, and oregano. Mix well and let simmer slowly for 1 ½ to 2 hours, stirring occasionally. You may add kidney beans at this time and cook for another 30  to 40 minutes. Stir in the cheese. Turn off the heat and dish up a bowlful of some belly-filling chili.

Well, I hope these ideas are helpful.  Think of us tonight, as we celebrate our chilly Chili Night.