In Hawaii, there is no such thing as chili without rice. It would be blasphemous to eat it as anything but rice flavoring. You need the clean taste of rice to pair with the messy back-of-the-throat acid and warmth of chili.
Chili and rice is a common menu item at local style take out places and a Zippy’s specialty. Supposedly people will take Zippy’s chili back with them when they’re stuck on the mainland for college.
I decided to use chili as the first real test that my culinary students would have. Cooking is often about trusting your taste and testing out your understanding of foods. When you’ve had as much chili and rice as my students have had, you should know what looks like chili and what doesn’t.
So I let them at it.
I brought a lot of ingredients that normally go into chili recipes, and I asked them to put it together. The only help I gave them was to say that they should brown the meat first. And keep the temperature on the low side to avoid red splatter all over everyone’s faces.
Everyone got into their kitchens and started throwing stuff together. They stood over their chili pots protectively, keeping their concoctions from my criticism. Some looked like soups, some had no sauce at all. The students would go visit another group, look at their chili, and go back to the ingredient table and think about why their chili looked nothing like chili at all. Most of my students don’t really read the recipes I give them anyway, so it was better that they only had their instincts to guide them here.
By the end I had 6 very different tasting pots of chili. But everyone one of them could be classified as such. There was smoky chili, bacon chili, basic chili, vegetable laden chili, no beans chili, and watery chili. After everyone declared theirs to be the best and took their portions home, I threw the leftovers together and had enough for dinner for my family and our neighbors.
So I guess they can cook. I was a proud Mama.
And they won’t starve when they go to college, with no Zippy’s in sight.
The ingredients included in every chili recipe (all veggies are chopped or minced as desired):
- tomato sauce or tomato paste
- beef stock or bouillon
- cayenne pepper or chili powder or both
The ingredients included in almost every chili recipe:
- ground beef (you can get fancy and go with real beef, cubed)
- kidney beans (cooked)
- brown or white sugar
- dried oregano
- canned tomato
The ingredients that are optional but often good in chili, maybe not all together:
- peppers (bell or hot as desired)
- chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (canned)
- different kinds of beans (cooked)
- canned pumpkin
- cocoa powder
- Worcestershire sauce
- Tabasco sauce
Basic Chili Directions
- Brown the meat in a heavy skillet over medium high heat. Drain the rendered fat off and set the meat aside. Fry up the bacon if using.
- In a tablespoon of oil over medium heat, saute the onions until translucent and just beginning to brown. Add other chopped veggies, if using and cook about 5 minutes. Put the onions and and meat in a saucepan over medium low heat and add the tomato sauce or paste and some beef stock (or bouillon mixed with water). Add the beans. Add spices to taste. Simmer until thickened or add more beef stock or tomato sauce as needed. I personally love the canned pumpkin in my chili.
- Serve with rice. Plenny of it.