The Basic Rules of Chili

Since it's almost that time for the 50th Superbowl, it's time to plan the Superbowl Party to End All Superbowl Parties!
So, for a base of the uber party meal, here are the basic ingredients and rules to make a super easy chili that your guests will BEG you to give them the recipe for.
Every basic Chili recipe has five things: Protein, Beans, Tomato, Spice, Heat.
You'll notice I count spice and heat as separate ingredients. This is because you can have an incredibly mild chili that has tons of spices, just as you can have a chili with few spices that will burn like liquid fire. But I'll get into that a bit later.

1. Protein: This is simple, you can use chicken, beef, pork, deer, tofu, veggie crumbles and it can be in small chunks or ground. If, however, you're using cut meat instead of ground, I highly recommend brining the meat in lightly salted water for at least a half hour before cooking. I also recommend cooking before adding to the crockpot if you don't want to worry about checking the temperature later. It'll be fine, I promise.
2. Beans: pinto, black, cranberry, kidney, northern- again whatever you'd like, except green beans or edamame- they're not so good as chili. You'll want to either use canned or cook them the day before as you don't want to end up with hard beans and hungry party guests!
3. Tomato: Fresh/canned/frozen, etc. You'll need some sort of tomato paste or sauce, and then some chopped if you like cooked tomatoes. I know some people don't do cooked tomatoes, and it can be made without, but you'll still need that base of tomato to start with.
4. Spice: I prefer things like paprika, cumin, garlic, chili powder and onion, but you can also add red pepper flakes, oregano, cayenne, etc.
5. Heat: This basically comes from your peppers and chili powder- as much or as little as you want. You can spice it up by adding chopped jalapenos, adobo, habanero, etc. It just goes with how hot you really want to go.

So, to give you a better idea of how you can mix and match for your own chili, here are a few combinations to try:
German Chili: Kielbasa, black beans, tomato sauce, garlic, oregano, chili powder.
Buffalo Chicken Chili: Chicken, kidney beans, tomato paste, garlic, paprika, cilantro, hot sauce
Hawaiian Chili: Ground Pork, Great Northern Beans, canned chopped tomatoes, pineapple, garlic, cumin, chili powder.

Get the idea? You can combine your favorites in all sorts of ways- and don't forget the toppings! You can make a big crockpot full of chili and then small bowls of things like shredded cheeses, bacon bits, sour cream, different crackers, chopped green onions, even things like Cheetos for your guests to top their chili with. Pair it with cornbread, hushpuppies, biscuits, breadsticks, etc. It can get as simple or as complex as you want- and it's just about guaranteed to be gone by the end of the Superbowl.

More great Superbowl Recipes on the way, until then, what's YOUR favorite party food?


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