Ask A Texan: What Are Appropriate (And Tasty) Chili Fixins?
Here in Texas, we love our chili, especially on a cold day. Texans are famously anti-beans in chili, although I know many Texans who do, in fact, use pinto or black beans.
Chili preferences vary wildly both inside and outside of Texas. Arkansas and Oklahoma, for example, tend to serve (checks notes) cinnamon rolls with chili. Huh? I don't know a single Texan who does that, or who uses cinnamon at all in chili, which is apparently common in Cincinnati and is also served with spaghetti noodles. Come, again? The amount of cheddar cheese on top seems appropriate though.
Growing up, the starch that was always, and I mean without fail, served with chili was cornbread. Sweet, buttery, delicious cornbread. Cornbread has a very long history in Texas, as wheat doesn't grow super great here but corn certainly can.
However, as an adult, I have discovered the glory of chili with rice. Filling, delicious, and a little quicker than making a new batch of cornbread, especially if I have leftover rice from say, Asian take-out. Asian take-out has shown me the glory of curry, which is basically Asian chili (or it may be more appropriate to say chili is American curry). Curry typically has cinnamon, and now I'm rethinking what Arkansas and Cincinnati have going on.
So what is a pairing we can all agree on? A little bit of cocoa powder in your chili makes it a little more like a Mexican mole, which is regionally appropriate (and gives your chili a deep, delicious flavor).
Beer? Texas-made Shiner Bock both cooked in and served alongside chili is heavenly.
Crackers? Eh, crackers are a C-lister in my opinion, but if we are talking Fritos...now that's my Texas!
Peanut Butter? Wait, what? Apparently in the Midwest chili and peanut butter sandwiches are considered a pair. I have had some delicious African-style stews that had peanuts or peanut butter, so maybe it actually works? Seems like it would sit like a brick in your stomach though.
Onions, jalapenos, hot sauce. Yes. Yes. Yes. Tortillas? Potatoes? Avocados? Certainly worth a try.
Chili is a very nostalgic food for many, myself included. If you are seeking a taste of home, you may want to be a Texas purist and have the cornbread. But if you're willing to try something a little wacky to us (but nostalgic to others) it might be really wonderful. I am not; however, ever putting a cinnamon roll in my chili. I'll have it for dessert.