The Chili Cookbook
From Three-Bean to Four-Alarm, Con Carne to Vegetarian, Cookoff-Worthy Recipes for the One-Pot Classic
by Robb Walsh
A cookbook devoted to the family friendly, tailgate party classic–featuring more than 60 tried-and-true recipes–from veteran cookbook author and Americana expert Robb Walsh.
Americans love chili. Whether served as a hearty family dinner, at a potluck with friends, or as the main dish at a football-watching party, chili is a crowd-pleaser. It’s slathered over tamales in San Antonio, hot dogs in Detroit, and hamburgers in Los Angeles. It’s ladled over spaghetti in Cincinnati, hash browns in St. Louis, and Fritos corn chips in Santa Fe.In The Chili Cookbook, award-winning author Robb Walsh digs deep into the fascinating history of this quintessential American dish. Who knew the cooking technique traces its history to the ancient Aztecs, or that Hungarian goulash inspired the invention of chili powder?
Fans in every region of the country boast the “one true recipe,” and Robb Walsh recreates them all—60 mouth-watering chilis from easy slow-cooker suppers to stunning braised meat creations. There are beef, venison, pork, lamb, turkey, chicken, and shrimp chilis to choose from—there is even an entire chapter on vegetarian chili. The Chili Cookbook is sure to satisfy all your chili cravings.
For a book only about chili, it has a surprising large variety of them with sections on Goulash and Tagine, Traditional, Favorites Across the Country, and Modern Styles of Chili. It even has an interesting history of chili with old-timey pictures dispersed between the recipes. Some of the cooking styles are old school and can have some hard to find ingredients. The hardest for me to find was the tallow/suet. The dried peppers can be found at your local international store. Most of the recipes themselves have there own history. They come from famous restaurants, chefs, celebrities, chuck-wagon cooks, chili queens, and chili cook-off winners. I was surprised to see Obama’s Family Chili recipe in there.
I followed all of these recipes exactly as written.
Greek Makaronia Me Kima
According to the book this is the ancestor to Cincinnati style chili on spaghetti noodles. Imagine skyline chili three-ways (with chili, noodles, and cheese) now imagine that being served out of a Greek restaurant. The flavors are leaning heavily to the allspice, cinnamon, anise direction. As strange as that sounds it turned out wonderful. The only thing I didn’t like was that you put all of these big spices loose in the meat sauce, so you have to fish them out when don cooking. Although the recipe did not mention anything about taking out the inedible spices. He did have me break the cinnamon in half which made tones of large splintered cinnamon pieces I had to get out too. Even with that problem, the flavor was so different and fresh I would make it again with a single change. I would put the allspice, anise, clove, and cinnamon in a bag of cheese cloth so it easily lifts out when done.
Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson’s Congressional Cook-Off Championship Chili
This is a very thick chili that uses mole sauce to deepen the flavor of the other ingredients in the dish. Browned sirloin, green bell peppers, white onions, and kidney beans are the base of this chili but what really deepens the flavor is the long cooking time and the mole sauce. If you are unfamiliar like I was, mole sauce is made of many ingredients, chocolate being one of the more prominent flavors that come through. In this dish it just makes all the flavors richer. The only thing I would change from this recipe would be to add a bit more liquid it’s just a little too dry for me. If I kept it as is I think it would be amazing on a hotdog or as a sloppy joe.
White Chicken Poblano Chili
Way more heat in this than I anticipated! Tasted pretty good but I had to put so much sour cream in it to mediate the heat that it turned into something other than chili. (It’s more like a chicken stroganoff) The recipe called for a whole chicken and 8 roasted poblano chilis! I thought Poblanos were a bit hotter than bell peppers but after roasting them I think they absorbed some of the heat from the seeds before they were removed and got real hot. The flavors of the peppers were a nice complement to the chicken and great northern beans. If you make this just know it might be pretty spicy. This recipe strikes the right balance between the chicken and peppers with a bit of sour cream to tame that heat back down making this recipe a winner. Try this recipe by clicking here.
Chili Queen Chili
Oh my god! This should be illegal it has way to much flavor. This 1930s recipe is based on an original Chili Queen recipe. I had to make two other recipes from the book before I could even start this one but man, it was worth it. Too much animal fat for my comfort and only type of chili, the Guajillo but that combination with a few others make this dish amazing. I never knew that cubed pork and beef in a chili flavored sauce could be so good. This is the perfect chili for cold nights and a bunch of oyster crackers or saltines crumbled in.
Roasted Green Chiles
These have there own recipe in the book and I made them to use in the White Chicken Poblano Chili recipe. The clearest and easiest way to make roasted peppers I have seen in a recipe. For some reason I always have trouble removing the skins but this recipe had a neat trick that made them super easy to remove. You can use this technique to roast any type of pepper.
Dried Chili Paste
Of course this book has a fantastic recipe for Homemade Chili Powder but what I found more interesting was the recipe for the Dried Chile Paste. This is the old school way of adding chilies before chili powder was cool. Also, the flavor is bright with a silky smooth texture.
Some of the traditional recipes flip the proverbial bird at health consciousness but, to follow my rule of following the recipes as closely as possible, I gladly rendered my own tallow for the Chili Queen Chili. Tallow is rendered fat from around beef kidneys. I found that if you let your butcher know your interested in it he/she will hold the suet for you. This was a very easy recipe but I didn’t care for the clean-up. This stuff is greasy, but unlike grease it doesn’t want to come off things it comes in contact with. I must have washed my hands five times after handling the suet and the stuff still didn’t come off easy.
Tallow was also used as a cheap candle wax, lubrication for steam pistons up until the 1950s, McDonald’s deep-fried their fries in it until the 90s, and recently has been used as jet fuel for the United States Air Force. The More You Know.
The recipes I made were out of this world even if a few were anti-health food. There are plenty of addition recipes for those of you who want to relive the chuck-wagon experience and make some of the ingredients by hand like the Dried Chili Paste. For most people a store bought chili powder would be fine. Most batches made enough for six to eight people but the nice thing about chili is it freezes well, so making large pots of the stuff doesn’t go to waste. If you don’t mind the recipes tasting different than the authors don’t be afraid to change ingredients to more health or easier alternatives. I didn’t see anything that would change the cooking times if you switched vegetable oil with tallow for example. Another nice thing is the author has added slow cooker versions to some of his recipes.
Singlearity Score: 4 out of 5
how single friendly the recipes are
Flavor Score: 5 out of 5
how tasty the recipes are
Easy Score: 4 out of 5
recipe difficulty level
Overall Score: 4.3 out of 5