To bean or not to bean?

FineCookingCom_ChiliWhen it comes to making chili, that is the question.

Chili con carne, commonly known in American English as simply “chili“, is defined as “a spicy stew containing chili peppers, meat (usually but not always beef), and often tomatoes and beans.”

That is, unless you’re a Texas chili enthusiast, in which case, chili almost never comes with beans.

And Texas chili-lovers do have bragging rights, as many food historians have traced the American origins of chili back several centuries. In 1731, a literal boatload of Spanish families created a settlement in what is today San Antonio, in the then-Spanish province of Texas. The historically-documented cooking customs of the early European settlers were that they often ate stews of beef and chili peppers which had not a trace of beans in them, even though beans were abundant and widely cultivated by the indigenous people living in the region.

Plus, chili con carne (sin frijoles, or without beans) was declared the official “state food” of Texas by their state legislature, in 1977, “in recognition of the fact that the only real ‘bowl of red’ is that prepared by Texans.”

To bean, or not to bean? That is the question.
To bean, or not to bean? That is the question.

Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of … outrageous chili “rules.”

Of course chili-with-n0-beans is a difficult rule for a non-Texan like me to fathom. The beans might be red or they might be black (very occasionally white – more on that later), but the chili at our house (and at my mama’s house, and her mama’s house) always has beans.

As one chili-con-frijoles fan put it,  Chili without beans? “What would that be? A slurry of well-spiced sadness?

At AllSpice, we’re open to getting you set up to make whatever kind of chili you prefer — with beans, without beans. Chili with tomatoes, with no tomatoes. Chili just brimming with meat, or completely vegetarian. If it’s good, you should eat it. Seriously.

Epicurious_vegan-chiliHere are some of our (and our customers’) favorite chili recipes, drawn from the AllSpice recipe database:

Our only chili recipe “rule”? That your chili has some kind of actual chili pepper ingredient in it.

Toward that end, we carry over 25 different varieties of chilies at the shop and in our online store. Plus, we have a wide range of chili-making spice blends, too: from straight-ahead Chili Powder (in medium or HOT), to Chili-Coffee Blend (secret ingredient in Smokin’ Coffee Chili, yum), to Texas Chili Seasoning.

Which one will *you* choose for your chili?

Photo credit: Lifehacker
Photo credit: Lifehacker