NATIONAL CHILI DAY
National Chili Day on the fourth Thursday in February honors one of America’s favorite winter dishes–chili. It’s also known as chili con carne (chili with meat).
In Spanish, chili refers to “chili pepper” and carne means “meat”.
Chili is most commonly made up of tomatoes, beans, chili peppers, meat, garlic, onions, and cumin. However, cooks offer up so many variations to the basic chili recipe. And, with so many varieties, chili cook-off competitions love to feature chili as a favored entry.
American frontier settlers used a “chili” recipe of dried beef, suet, dried chili peppers, and salt. All this was pounded together and formed into bricks and dried. They could then boil the bricks in pots on the trails.
At the Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893, the San Antonio Chili Stand helped people from all over the United States appreciate the taste of chili. Because San Antonio was a significant tourist destination, it helped Texas-style chili con carne spread throughout the South and West. In 1977, House Concurrent Resolution Number 18 of the 65th Texas Legislature designated chili con carne as the official dish of the U.S. state of Texas.
Before World War II, hundreds of small, family-run chili parlors (also known as chili joints) popped up throughout the state of Texas as well as other places in the United States. Each new chili parlor usually claimed some kind of secret recipe.
Ways to enjoy chili
There are many ways that people enjoy the great taste of chili, some of which include:
- Add chili to hot dogs to create chili dogs.
- Top burgers with chili and enjoy a chili burger.
- Combine chili and chili with fries and make chili cheese fries.
- Make the ultimate baked potato by stuffing it with chili.
- “Frito pie” is chili with spaghetti noodles.
- Transform mac and cheese into chili mac.
- Mix rice and chili for another flavor favorite.
- Add croutons to your chili for added crunch.
HOW TO OBSERVE NATIONAL CHILI DAY
- Make some chili.
- Try this Wild Came Chili recipe.
- Invite friends to warm up over a bowl of chili.
- Share your recipes.
- Host a chili cook-off.
- Use #NationalChiliDay to post on social media.
NATIONAL CHILI DAY HISTORY
Rich Kelly of Hard Times Cafe in Arlington, VA founded National Chili Day. The day has been celebrated with cook-offs, pot lucks, feeds and bottomless bowls since at least 2006.
Q. Are all chilis spicy?
A. No. Chili is such a versatile dish it can be made with very little to no spicy heat.
Q. What’s a chili cook-off?
A. Chili cook-off is a competition. Many people claim they make the best chili and a cook-off is a way to determine who really does have the best chili. Competitors bring their finished dish and judges taste each entry. Sometimes a chili cook-off functions as a fundraiser for a charity.
Q. What kinds of toppings go on chili?
A. Some people prefer their chili without any additional toppings. However, there are many ways to top off your chili. Try these ideas:
- Sour cream
- Shredded cheese
- Tortilla chips
- Cottage cheese
- Green onions