Regional chili specialties from around the U.S.
As the Grand Sierra Resort prepares to host the World Championship Chili Cookoff Oct. 16-18, take a look at some of the regional recipes that are popular across the country -- mayonnaise optional.
Cincinnati chili: Made famous by restaurants such as Skyline Chili, this could be classified as more of a “meat sauce” than a chili. It’s flavored with a Mediterranean spices like cinnamon – sometimes even cocoa – and is usually served on top of spaghetti with a heaping pile of cheese on top.
Texas chili con carne: While the rest of the country may debate whether beans belong in a proper chili or not, it’s case closed in Texas’ state dish: no beans! There are no tomatoes in this version either, but plenty of big chunks of meat and loads of chiles.
Frito pie: Also coming out of Texas, Frito pie takes chili con carne and uses it as a topping on a bed of Frito chips, and typically also includes others toppings such as cheese, sour cream and jalapenos. A popular way to serve it is to pour all the ingredients right into a bag of Fritos and eat it with a fork.
Venison: From the southwest, this version of chili con carne uses wild game as the meat of the dish, cooked up in typical con carne style with peppers, onions and tomatoes. In fact, legend has it that this was the first chili to hit the Americas, brought by Canary Islanders in the 1700s.
Arizona Hopi green chili stew: The Hopi of Arizona have their own version of a chili, made with roasted green peppers, hominy and spiced ground beef. Served with blue corn pancakes or fry bread, this Native American version of chili can be found at cultural centers and Hopi restaurants throughout Arizona.
Coney dogs: Definitely not your run-of-the-mill chili dog, Coney dogs (made famous at Coney Island) are topped with a similar chili to the Cincinnati variety, having come from the large Greek population in the area during the ’20s and ’30s. This chili features notes of cinnamon and cumin, and is slathered on top of hot dogs along with mustard and onions.
Aloha chili: Maui brings us Zippy’s chili, a classic dish from a local island eatery. While the recipe remains a closely guarded family secret, many copycat versions have popped up online in an attempt to bring the rich, smoothly-textured chili home post-vacation. Some of the thoughts on what possibly gives Zippy’s chili that signature silkiness? Whipped pureed beans, refried beans and even -- mayonnaise. For a real Hawaiian plate lunch, the chili is served “loco moco” style on two scoops of white sticky rice with a fried egg on top.
Hoosier chili: Straight out of Indiana, this chili is usually cooked with beans, green chiles, and in place of canned diced tomatoes, either condensed tomato soup or V-8. As with many of the Midwest-style chili dishes, it ends up served with a bed of pasta; macaroni and spaghetti are the two most popular options.
LBJ Pedernales River chili: A favorite of President Lyndon B. Johnson, this central-Texas chili recipe comes straight from his wife, first lady Ladybird Johnson. LBJ’s chili calls for lots of coarsely ground beef (which the first lady is said to have reduced after he had his heart attack to make a healthier version), onion, oregano, and comino seed, as well as plenty of chili powder and liquid hot sauce. As with all Texas-style chilis, there are no beans to be found in this dish.
Midwestern chili mac: Another pasta and chili combo coming out of the Midwest, chili mac takes the Cincinnati chili, puts it on a bed of macaroni, and covers the whole thing (and we mean covered) in cheese. Some variations call for the chili to be combined with boxed mac and cheese dinner, like Kraft. In St. Louis, they take it one step further with “chili mac a la mode,” in which the dish is topped with fried eggs as well.