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Chili Goes Regional for Extra Flair

Christine Link
Christine Link | January 23, 2020

It’s that time of year – cooler weather, football…and chili! Growing up in rural North Dakota, we served caramel rolls with our chili. I know – to those of you from other parts of the Midwest, that might sound very unusual! That’s because there are noticeable regional differences in how we make and serve chili in the United States…and even throughout the Midwest.

  • Midwestern Chili generally has a tomato base, features kidney beans and is rich and hearty. It is often served with accompaniments such as shredded cheese, saltine crackers, peanut butter sandwiches and cinnamon rolls.
  • Cincinnati Chili is served on top of spaghetti noodles. Other options instead of spaghetti noodles are mashed potatoes or rice. The consistency and flavors used when serving chili like this have more in common with Greek pasta sauces and the spiced meat sauces used to top hot dogs, usually with no beans in the chili.
  • Kansas City Chili is sometimes made with beef brisket, burnt ends or pork shoulder.
  • In Illinois, they spell their chili with an extra “l.” Springfield chilli, for example, is generally made with ground turkey, bacon and beer.
  • In the Southwest, their version of chili is Frito pie. Frito pie is chili poured over corn chips and topped with shredded cheese.
  • Texas Chili, though, is just beef with no beans or tomatoes. Also known as a Bowl of Red, it is basically beef (not ground) and chili paste.
  • In New Mexico, chili verde is popular and includes pork shoulder, tomatillos and jalapeños.

There are other variations of chili and ways to serve it, too, that apply to several different regions. For example, consider white chicken chili, which uses white beans and can be made with broth and cream. And you can always use leftover chili to make fan favorites such as chili mac or chili dogs. There are even trendy new chili ingredients to consider, like cocoa powder, whiskey and molasses. Our Martin Bros. Fall/Winter Menu, for example, features a Secret Ingredient Chili recipe that uses cocoa powder to give the chili a rich flavor.

So, mix it up this season and serve different regional and trendy chili favorites as LTOs! It’s sure to be a hit as people look for new foods to warm them up this winter!

Click here to check out a Martin Bros. recipe for Pork Chili, which would make a great, hearty addition to any menu!


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