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About the Recipe

Believe it or not, chili can be as contentious of a topic in the US as pasta sauce in Italy. Regionally and culturally speaking, everyone has their own idea of what great chili should look and taste like. The broad term “chili” means chili con carne—a dish with a base of red meat in a chili pepper-based sauce that’s usually flavored some more with cumin. If you’ve ever been to a chili cook-off, you know it’s typically separated out into categories like Traditional Red Chili (aka Texas Red) and Chile Verde. Texas boasts the most unique type of chili because it does not have any beans or tomato-based ingredients in it. Think of Texas chili as a thicker, beef stew with lots of chili spice. Cincinnati chili is usually served on spaghetti and topped with shredded cheddar.  Chile Verde is known for not using cumin, and instead relies on fresh green chili peppers, which tint the color of the dish. White chili can be recognized by its use of shredded chicken or turkey and use of white beans. Three Bean Chili falls under the category of Homestyle Chili, which can sometimes be vegetarian. Don’t worry, you won’t be asked to pass a test on types of chili! Just use your taste buds to find your favorite ingredients.

As mentioned above, white beans are usually only used in white chili. If chili only incorporates one kind of bean in it, kidney beans are a popular pick of their heartiness and ability to maintain their form and texture under the heat required to make chili. They also hold spices well. The other most popular chili beans are pinto and black. Even though kidney beans play well with chili components, pinto beans are often the same beans that come in the canned chili beans you see at the grocery store.

We use a combination of pinto, kidney, and black beans for this recipe. While these are popular choices for three-bean chili, you can swap in any type of beans you love. Chili powder is used to add just a bit of heat to this dish, but if you like things spicy you can toss in a few green chiles to really warm things up. If you aren’t a fan of ground beef, feel free to substitute ground turkey or ground chicken.

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