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The great chili debate: Is it real Texas chili or is it STEW?!?

It turns out I started a massive email inbox firestorm Tuesday morning when I dared to say how I can’t imagine chili without beans. Have you lost your mind! Have you ever heard of Texas chili? Chili experts wouldn’t dare eat chili with beans! You northerners & your chili are embarrassing!

I heard it all Tuesday. There must be 30 emails on chili. There are so many emails on chili that I can’t possibly post all of them in this space. The premise of the emails is that real chili is Texas chili and all other chilis are bastard chilis. Further investigation reveals that Texas chili is sometimes served with a side of beans and Texas chili judges refuse to judge chili with beans because it messes up their palates, rendering them useless for further chili judging.

Folks, there have been approximately 5,000 chili competitions since 2000. How can there possibly be any remaining versions of Texas chili out there? I’m being lectured on how Texas chili can have a set list of ingredients — NOOOOOOOOOO BEANS! — and yet there continue to be Texas chili cookoffs. If it’s the same ingredients every single time, why have a competition?

And this whole thing about beans on the side is silly. What’s the difference between eating the beans as a side dish and just throwing the damn things into the chili besides Texas chili judges who are worried about their palates?

• Tim L. writes:

Much offense to the yankees out there (anyone outside of Texas), if you put beans in it, it ain’t chili. You’ve made a soup or a stew. Thems the rules. We don’t tell y’all how to make chowdah or gefilte fish, so we ask for the same courtesy. 

The only place in Texas where beans go in chili is Austin…I assume. We took all the liberals and put them in one city, so we can keep an eye on them. I imagine there’s food truck in that town being run by a guy who wears flannel in the summer and won’t shut up about the latest hazy IPA he found, but he’s also transitioning, so I wouldn’t take life advice from that guy and I wouldn’t eat his chili. 

####

So do I call it chili stew or just stew? I need a Texas chili judge to weigh in here.

• Stanton writes:

The saying in Texas is “If you know beans about chili, you know that there is no beans in chili.”  Those who started fixing chili in San Antonio did not have beans in their chili.

• Mike B. in Tennessee has thoughts on chili with beans:

First time, long time. Growing up my mom fixed beans 8 days a week. Lima, kidney, pinto, green, black, red, white. You name it, she cooked it. Each day my patience with beans grew thinner and thinner.

While I don’t prefer beans, my mom also raised me as a good southern boy, so I eat food that is prepared for me. I had tolerated the beans in chili for decades and then a few years ago, a Texan introduced me to Texas Chili. From my understanding and how I have prepared it since is I replace the beans with a couple pounds of 1 inch cubed roast that will melt in your mouth when you’re eating it.

Like all bean chili, each chef adds their own flair such as onions, beer, peppers, spices, etc. While people from Texas think mighty highly of themselves and Texas, most of it is overblown. I believe the Chili is one thing not spoken enough about. Keep up the good work.

• Chris C. writes:

Ha ha you are going to hear from 10,000 Texans

• Mark W. eats chili with beans:

My wife does a white chili with chicken and Northern beans. Simmer all day and serve with homemade cornbread and it is a perfect cold weather food. I attached the recipe. 

• Mig was all over this topic:

Man, Lots of controversial stuff to email about today.

The epicenter of beanless chili is Texas. While we call that sauce, Texans basically refuse to acknowledge anything with beans being called Chili. I go to at least one music festival (they have their own music too) in Texas or with Texans each year. The problem is so big I had this trucker hat crafted as a conversation starter. More like an argument starter in Texas. While what they are making without beans is certainly great tasting, no normal thinking person would ever call it chili.

• Chris B. has a message for the STEW eaters:

Hey, Joe — FYI, beans in chili are only acceptable if you’re some kind of pinko vegetarian commie who likes stinking up the room after the meal.

Here’s a semipro tip: when you’re making the cornbread, use a can of creamed corn instead of water or milk or whatever liquid your mix/recipe calls for. More moist and more flavorful. Also, go ahead and whip up a batch of honey butter while you’re in the kitchen.

Enjoy!

p.s. If you’re driving to Savannah, the Carolina mountains are about halfway. In the summer, Beech Mountain has weekend death-wish mountain biking where you ride the lift up and try not to kill yourself on the way down. Your boys would probably love it.

• Jon U. fires back at the STEW crowd:

In Texas and in all the big chili competitions, there are strict rules as to what can go into chili – and beans cannot.  The following article attempts to explain the rationale.

Most of us in the South, by the way, are very perplexed with what people in Ohio and Indiana refer to as chili which is really more like spaghetti chili (e.g., Skyline).

I recently won a chili cookoff in my neighborhood in which I smoked a beef brisket for about 15 hours, then put the brisket into a chili concoction and smoked that for about four hours.  No beans.  It was quite tasty!

• Clay M. keeps things way more civil than some of the militant Texas chili truthers:

Regarding beanless chili, it is the standard Texas-style way to make chili. Oklahomans typically use beans, and Texans don’t. Texas chile is closer to some Mexican dishes like chili colorado–much thicker and meatier than standard chile that is more soupy.

In Texas chili, you could probably pull the chunks of slow-cooked meat out and eat them with a tortilla and some of the chile sauce. I grew up in Kentucky eating regular chili that looked and tasted like what you get at Wendy’s, but now I make it Texas-style (and live in Florida). New Mexican chili also doesn’t use beans, and they add delicious hatch green chilies. As to your reader who sent in the pictures, smoking the meat and vegetables a bit before cooking the chili does add a nice boost of smokiness.

• Ryan O. reveals details that are going to make Texas chili fans lose their marbles. Read what people in Indiana include in their STEW!

https://www.meatchurch.com/blogs/recipes/texas-chili

I was curious about the beans thing as well after Yellowstone…. I just figured it was a Texas thing and that’s why I didn’t understand. People in Indiana put noodles in their chili but I stopped doing that years ago after being told how “real chili” was supposed to be made. According to  Matt Pittman from Meat church it’s just because it takes up room for more meat! I guess I can respect that. If you read the recipe I love the “2 beers” one for the chili one for me. I also recommend venison burger and steak in my chili as well. 

Good luck to the Bengals this weekend.  I have been to a few Bears vs Bengals games over the years due to being one hour east of Cincy. One cold December game at Riverfront Stadium we’re my dad and grandpas beers were freezing before they could finish them, and the last game was the worst as a Bears fan. Ex Bear Cedric Benson ran all over the Bears unlike he ever did when he played for us.  Cutler threw three interceptions and the Bengals scored in the 40’s so I still know all the words to “who dey”!!

• And Alex R. has the final word on the Texas chili vs. STEW debate:

You realize what you just did……you just brought the entire state of Texass coming to your inbox and DM’s about how real Texass chilli has no beans.

It’s a Texass thing.

Oh and by the way Horns Down!

####

What an absolutely cutthroat topic that was. It’s like bringing up your favorite Mexican restaurant while sitting around on a deck with a bunch of fellow suburbanites. I made that mistake one time. Now I just keep my mouth shut about Mexican food. You could waterboard me, tell me I can never have another Busch Light, and I’m still not having a conversation about Mexican restaurants with suburban women.

I’ll gladly reveal my favorite Thai restaurant or Chinese restaurant (shoutout to the Yum Yummy lady who literally roasts every customer like the Soup Nazi when they show up to get their food), but you’ll never get my opinion on Mexican restaurants.

• Mike T. in Idaho got in on Crockpot ideas:

Happy New Year Brother,
This is a family favorite, which my daughters always ask for when they visit and I BBQ. It is delicious, and super easy.
One Pot Dinner
1 1/2 lbs. ground beef
1/2 lb. bacon, chopped
1 medium chopped onion
2 (31 oz.) cans pork and beans
1 ( 16 oz.) can butter beans, drained
1 ( 16 oz.) can kidney beans, drained
1 c. Catsup
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp. Liquid smoke
1 tbsp. White vinegar
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp. Garlic powder
Brown beef and bacon in skillet, add onions cook until translucent. Add beef, bacon and onions to crockpot and add all remaining ingredients, stir until combined. Cook on low heat 4- 5 hours, stirring every hour or so.

####

Are we calling that STEW!?!

• Bill L. wants to help out with a Wild Card Weekend Crockpot idea:

Our family loves this one. Crackpot chicken tacos or nachos. 

2 boneless chicken breasts (thighs would work too), 2 cans of Rotel tomatoes, 1 can of black beans, 1 cup chicken broth, and a packet of taco seasoning. Turn on low all day to cook. 

If you ever get to Lincoln or Omaha Nebraska,  I’m a homebrewer and would pour you some out-of my kegs. 

• Tuesday, I emailed Screencaps reader Raleigh J. who lives in Fairbanks, AK. Sunday morning the low in Fairbanks and the surrounding area hit bizarre lows that were 50-below and slightly warmer, and asked him about life this time of year on the real frozen tundra.

Here’s Raleigh’s life report:

It has been a very interesting few weeks to say the least. It started with around 12 inches of snow. Followed that up with two days of rain, actual rain. Then back to another 12 inches or so of snow.

Then a week or so of -30 below or colder temps. Was the Boatel (ed. note: Boatel is his wife’s bar in Fairbanks) up for every one of those days? Absolutely. We had many tourists who had traveled up to see the Northern Lights only to see many roads unnavigable and their booked tours canceled.

Some of these tourists included people from Brazil, people from Santa Cruz, Ca., a group of ladies from New Orleans that watched the Dolphins/Saints Monday Night Football game with the regulars and the others that didn’t or couldn’t go to work. They were a big hit with their “Who dat” chants and songs!  We ordered food or made food because most of these tourists had no food in their hotels, and cabs and Ubers were near impossible to get. 

As someone who grew up here in Fairbanks, the -35 temps and colder are not foreign to this area but after a week it obviously grows tiresome and beats on you relentlessly. Your vehicle drives like a tank. Your dogs refuse to go outside. It hurts to go outside and when you do, it hurts to breathe. But life moves on, you have to go to work and you have to get out of the house when you can. Since the Boatel is nestled in a neighborhood it really is a neighborhood bar.

So we got to greet people from around the world and chat with our neighbors that would come in bitching about the weather, but also checking to see if anyone needs help with plowing a driveway, shoveling a roof off, or getting a car out of the ditch.  

If someone’s car breaks down in this weather, someone will stop and help or just help you get out of the elements. A fifteen-minute drive out of Fairbanks means you are generally out in “God’s Country” and with the -30 or colder temps, It really can be fatal, pretty quickly, if something happens.  Fairbanks is a tough place to live, you have to be tough too. 

Joe thanks for everything. You have allowed the “Cappers” to tell their stories and share their lives like no where else I’ve seen on the internet.

####

Great email. This is the type of stuff that I love to bring to Screencaps readers. I want to hear from boots on the ground from around the country, or world if you’re in some far-off land.

Today, it’s actually not bad in Fairbanks. Raleigh’s getting some nice weather for his Wednesday. I’m not sure if he’s working at the radio station today, but you can catch Raleigh on xrock959.com. I might have to hit up the all-request line.

• Murph gets this morning’s last word:

So the other night I’m cooking dinner as my wife is driving home from work. I’m piping some Pandora through the earbuds when the perfect Screencaps community song comes on.

I immediately went to YouTube to play it again just to make sure it was the right fit. To quote Franklin Hatchett (of Money Talks fame), “it can’t get no brighter.” 

It’s a song called AA by Walker Hayes. Give it a listen. The only phrase I disagree with is when he says “tryin’ not to be like my old man.” If I can be half the man my dad was I’ll be doing just fine.

If you listen closely there’s even a subtle reference to TNML. 

Thanks again for what you do. Screencaps is what I like to call appointment journalism.
Much love to the community. 

• And that’s a wrap on this Wednesday morning. We proved a Texas chili vs. STEW debate can be had in a civil way and at the end of it all, we can go our own ways and enjoy life in our own little way. We’ll let Texans have their chili and we’ll eat our STEW.

Get out there and have yourself a great Wednesday. We’re one day closer to a Bengals playoff win. We’re one day closer to mowing season, golf season, Yacht Rock on the patio season. Try to make the best out of yet another day.

Email: joekinsey@gmail.com

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Written by Joe Kinsey

I'm an Ohio guy, born in Dayton, who roots for Ohio State and can handle you guys destroying the Buckeyes, Urban Meyer and everything associated with Columbus.

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