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"Chili doesn't have beans!!!!"
April 3, 2010 10:27 AM   Subscribe

What is so bad about putting beans in chili?
posted by smackfu to Food & Drink (54 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
Nothing in particular, but people like to be chili snobs. I prefer chili without beans myself. The beans are just filler, not adding much flavour. OTOH without beans a bowl of chili is basically just a bowl of meat.
posted by Nelson at 10:29 AM on April 3, 2010


My mom makes fantastic chili. She puts beans in it. In my opinion there is nothing intrinsically wrong with having beans in chili.
posted by Kimothy at 10:30 AM on April 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's a matter of opinion. I myself like them in chili. Chili purists don't. If I am making something to go in my belly I'll put what I want in it.
posted by leetheflea at 10:31 AM on April 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


chili doesn't have beans? i thought that was a main ingredient. totally not being snarky.
posted by sio42 at 10:32 AM on April 3, 2010 [18 favorites]


For reference, see the previous question on Help me make chili, which has lots of anti-bean sentiment, without a lot of reasoning.
posted by smackfu at 10:34 AM on April 3, 2010


I've never had chili without beans.

It probably has something to do with food being "authentic", whatever that means. Someone somewhere must like it, if it keeps happening.
posted by Solomon at 10:35 AM on April 3, 2010


It's regional.
posted by mikeh at 10:38 AM on April 3, 2010 [6 favorites]


I saw three people out of 47 say that beans were wrong for chili in that thread. This is not an opinion I have ever heard anywhere outside of the internet. People may prefer meat chili, regional chili variations may be beanless [Texas chili seems to traditionally have no beans] but beans are a part of what most normal people would consider chili.
posted by jessamyn at 10:40 AM on April 3, 2010 [8 favorites]


It is indeed regional. When I read this question, I though: huh? Why would you put beans or meat in chili? That's just weird. Chili is green and roasted and tasty.
posted by koeselitz at 10:41 AM on April 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


There are a couple of different chili traditions. One is the tradition that has chili as "a way to eat beans;" chili in this tradition consists of beans, onions, herbs and spices, and chile peppers, more or less. It can be served with a little meat in it if you have it, making "chili con carne."

The other tradition is the one that has chili as "something to do with this cow who up and died on our cattle drive;" chili in this tradition consists of meat, meat, and more meat, with the other ingredients added as well. You'd never add beans to this kind of chili, because dry beans will keep but the freshly dead cow really won't.

The first kind of chili tends to be the food of people who live off beans and rice, people in Mexico and the northern parts of Central America. The second kind of chili is, basically, Texas chili. I grew up in Texas; I prefer my chili with beans.
posted by KathrynT at 10:45 AM on April 3, 2010 [12 favorites]


wikipedia, which knows everything and is factual, says this about chili:

Chili con carne (literally "Chili with meat", often known simply as chili) is a spicy stew. The name "chili con carne" is taken from Spanish, and means "peppers with meat." Traditional versions are made, minimally, from chili peppers, meat, garlic, onions, and cumin, along with chopped or ground beef. Beans and tomatoes are frequently included. Variations, both geographic and personal, may involve different types of meat as well as a variety of other ingredients. It can be found worldwide in local variations and also in certain American-style fast food restaurants. The variant recipes provoke disputes among afficionados, and the dish is used as an ingredient in a number of other foods.


and then has a section about Controversies over Ingredients (i'm not making that up)

Beans
Beef was plentiful and cheap in San Antonio and other cattle towns. As chili spread east into areas where beef was more expensive, however, chili made with beans became more prevalent. In some eastern areas, this dish is referred to as chili beans while the term chili is reserved for the all-meat dish.[citation needed] Pinto beans are commonly used as chili beans, as are black-eyed peas, kidney beans, great northern beans, or navy beans. Chili bean can also refer to a small red variety of common bean also known as the pink bean. The name may have arisen from that bean's resemblance to small chili peppers, or it may be a reference to that bean's inclusion in chili recipes.

Most commercially prepared canned chili includes beans. Commercial chili prepared without beans is usually called "Chili No Beans" in the United States. Some U.S. manufacturers, notably Bush Brothers and Company and Eden Organic, also sell canned precooked beans (with no meat) that are labeled "chili beans". These beans are intended for consumers to add to a chili recipe and are often sold with spices added. A chili purist's proverb says "If you know beans about chili, you know chili ain't got no beans," though the evidence suggests that there is nothing inauthentic about their inclusion.[11] The Chili Appreciation Society International specified in 1999 that, among other things, cooks are forbidden from including beans, marinating any meats, or discharging firearms in the preparation of chili for official competition.[12]

Pinto beans (frijoles), a staple of Tex-Mex cooking, have long been associated with chili. The question of whether beans "belong" in chili has been a matter of contention among chili cooks for an equally long time. It is likely that in many poorer areas of San Antonio and other places associated with the origins of chili, beans were used rather than meat, or in addition to meat.[citation needed]

---------------------------------------------------------

so it looks like chili can be made either way. it makes sense that East Coast chili would have had more beans given the expense of beef at the time the dish was making its way east, like the article says.

interesting.
posted by sio42 at 10:46 AM on April 3, 2010 [3 favorites]


I love beans in chili. It does add some flavor, helps it go further on a budget, and provides protein.
posted by SpacemanStix at 10:47 AM on April 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't worry too much about authenticity with my guiness-based, chipotle spiced beef and pork chili. I don't add beans because, personally, I dislike beans. If you want beans, add them. If someone gets persnickety, you know who not to invite to your chili party next time.

About the flavor, the liquid from canned beans adds a bit of flavor to chili. If I wouldn't be throwing away a whole can of beans, I'd happily strain the liquid into my chili.
posted by Ghidorah at 10:49 AM on April 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


What is so bad about putting beans in chili?

What if you ordered a BLT and there was bacon, lettuce, tomato, and avocado in there? I mean, technically you can still identify this sandwich as some sort of variant of a BLT, but what if you just hate avocado, and don't like eating it, and just wanted your sandwich like you thought you were going to get it? Fine, it's probably just a mistake, you pick them off, and go about your business. But what if every time you wanted a BLT you got a BLT+avocado? Annoying, right? You'd probably be all "A BLT SHOULD NOT HAVE AVOCADO ON IT, PEOPLE".

Same thing with chili. Originally, chili was just a stew of meat and peppers and tomatoes. At some point, chili became a stew of meat and peppers and tomatoes and sometimes beans. People who want chili with just meat almost don't have a word for what they want at this point.

Basically what's "so bad" about putting beans in chili is that there's no word anymore for "a stew of meat, peppers and tomatoes where I can be totally positive that I won't be getting any beans."
posted by 23skidoo at 10:54 AM on April 3, 2010 [5 favorites]


(I like my chili with beans, btw)
posted by 23skidoo at 10:57 AM on April 3, 2010


I'm confused. I thought that chili always had beans, be it meat or vegetarian. I can't imagine chili without beans. The meat is incidental to me. I can deal with it either way. But NO BEANS? That would be like tomato sauce without tomatoes. It may have meat. It may not. But it has to have tomatoes. Right?
posted by marimeko at 11:01 AM on April 3, 2010 [4 favorites]


There is nothing wrong with putting beans in chili. It's just a mistake to think that beans have to be in the chili. You can put spaghetti in it too, if you really, really have to, but it is a meat stew, right? Meat (at least turkey) and chili should be the main ingredients. Add on are going to change the taste.

Some cooks, who work for hours and hours making this stuff, resent it when people start diluting the dish before they taste it. That is fair, isn't it?
posted by Some1 at 11:03 AM on April 3, 2010


I've always had chilli with beans in it. But when I was a kid, we used to eat chilli in the Cincinnati style (I don't know if there is a name for this). In this way, the chilli is just a meat and tomato stew, served over noodles, with beans, onions, and cheese on top. This seems to be pretty common in the midwest (my mom called it "chilli mac").

Out here in New Mexico, chilli isn't really a big thing. Like koeselitz mentioned, you're more likely to find green chile stew, which is a different beast (when I first moved here, I actually had to explain the concept of "chilli" to a friend who thought I was talking about green chile stew). The way chilli is consumed here is generally in a Frito pie, which is Fritos with chilli on top (I like to add mustard and cheese to mine). The chilli may or may not contain beans, but since beans are a big staple here, they're usually included. I've also seen it served with the beans separate from the chilli.

So yeah, chilli is treated different ways in different regions. Personally, I love a very spicy chilli with beans and meat, Frito pie style. But that's just me.
posted by lexicakes at 11:03 AM on April 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm with 23skidoo on this one that people who grew up with the original variant are upset that their word has grown broader to encompass things that aren't what they are used to. It gets worse if you come to Cincinnati and have some of our chili. You wouldn't believe the amount of people who object to this dish merely based on the fact that it contains the word chili but is much further removed from the original chili con carne in terms of texture and spices.
posted by mmascolino at 11:05 AM on April 3, 2010


My dad won a big-deal Chili Cook-Off and he absolutely detests beans in chili, but even he says that chili with beans is a legitimate (though "ill-advised") version.
posted by sallybrown at 11:06 AM on April 3, 2010


Looks like lexicakes beat me to it and yes it is referred to as Cincinnati Chili or Cincinnati-Style Chili.

FWIW, I always add beans because they are cheap, add flavor and are a nice textual contrast to the meat.
posted by mmascolino at 11:09 AM on April 3, 2010


A few years ago I came to some conclusions that have made me a much happier person:

1) The purpose of spoken language is communication. As long as I can understand what a person is trying to convey, there's no need to denigrate them (for having an accent, or whatever).

2) The purpose of written language is communication. As long as I can understand what a person is trying to convey, there's no need to denigrate them (for being unable to spell, or whatever).

3) The purpose of food is to taste adequate and provide nourishment. There is nothing to gain by insisting that food X mustn't include ingredient Y, or that restaurant Z only serves shit.

I don't always succeed in living this way, but try.
posted by coolguymichael at 11:26 AM on April 3, 2010 [6 favorites]


Basically what's "so bad" about putting beans in chili is that there's no word anymore for "a stew of meat, peppers and tomatoes where I can be totally positive that I won't be getting any beans."

Wikipedia says: Commercial chili prepared without beans is usually called "Chili No Beans*" in the United States.

*Ingredients: Water, Beef, Textured Vegetable Protein (Soy Flour, Caramel Color), Oatmeal, Corn Flour, Chili Powder (Chili Peppers, Flavoring), Contains 2% or less of Tomatoes (Water, Tomato Paste), Sugar, Salt, Hydrolyzed Soy, Corn, and Wheat Protein, Modified Cornstarch, Flavoring, Autolyzed Yeast, Monosodium Glutamate, Spice.
posted by iviken at 11:29 AM on April 3, 2010


Beans, beans, good for a chat, whether your chili has beans, depends on where you're at.
posted by fixedgear at 11:37 AM on April 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


I have fallen under the spell that chili should contain either meat or beans, but not both. I don't know how I came to this conclusion, because I grew up eating chili with both, but once the idea was suggested to me, it made so much sense that I believed it to be true authenticity.
posted by Jon_Evil at 12:07 PM on April 3, 2010


I don't worry too much about authenticity with my guiness-based, chipotle spiced beef and pork chili.

Oh, dear, dear, dear. Texas (who like to fight about things like chili, beer, wearing hats in the Alamo, and whether their capitol building is really pink) would be aghast. Chili with meat is always beef; chili without meat is merely perplexing, like cows without boys (unless we are talking about Austin, which may or may not be part of Texas, depending on who you ask). Putting Guiness in chili would be pretty citified; you could probably get away with Negro Modello, although Shiner Bock is probably safer. Lone Star safer yet. Pork is weird; you might as well use chicken or tuna or tofu.

On the other hand, Texans also think barbecue means something other than pork, which is just plain heresy.

Ahem. Anyway, it is largely a matter of taste; I tend to make vegetarian chili, myself, because I cook for vegetarians. It involves beans. And once won an award for it in a Texas chili cook off, (although it was among Austin Library School students, so that hardly matters).

One thing I do believe -- chili con carne ought to be made cheaply -- you should be slow-cooking tough, cheap cuts of meat in a sauce of relatively cheap ingredients -- onions, chiles, spices, tomatoes, beer, (and maybe beans, should you be so inclined). Using expensive ingredients is kind of missing the point. Although it can be a darned tasty stew.
posted by GenjiandProust at 12:15 PM on April 3, 2010


Canadian Perspective: Beans are necessary and chili is just just meat slop without them.

Bonus Perspective: Gojujang chili rocks.

Final Perspective: Chili should be the last thing to be a snob about. It's not creme brulee.
posted by sleslie at 12:17 PM on April 3, 2010


I always make chili with beans. I guess some people like to argue about this just like some like to argue about what "real" bbq is.
posted by various at 12:48 PM on April 3, 2010


You may find the International Chili Society cookoff rules useful for perspective as well.

As a native Texan who believes there is chili (no beans), vegetarian chili (beans), and NM chili stew (no opinion), I'd eat that Guinness-based chipotle-spiced beef and pork chili in a heartbeat. There's nothing wrong with trying different meats--we use buffalo--but I am in the regional majority of Texans (I think about 2/3 though I don't have a cite to hand) that prefers meat-only chili.
posted by immlass at 1:08 PM on April 3, 2010


Basically what's "so bad" about putting beans in chili is that there's no word anymore for "a stew of meat, peppers and tomatoes where I can be totally positive that I won't be getting any beans."

Some people call that a Bowl of Red. And a Bowl of Red should not have beans in it and should be thick enough that you can stick a wooden spoon in it and it will stand up straight.

And yeah, I'm also a native Texan who will eat any and all varieties of "chili,"" no matter what you call it or what's in it, as long as it tastes good. But when, in my house, someone asks for "chili," it's never got beans in it; if it does, it's probably called "stew."
posted by devinemissk at 1:22 PM on April 3, 2010


I'd eat that Guinness-based chipotle-spiced beef and pork chili in a heartbeat.

This is a slightly different argument, I think. I suppose there are chili purists that would never eat chili with beans (there are also some people who have issues with beans, taste- or digestion-wise). There are also a lot of people who will gladly eat it, and who might even smile and ask for seconds, but who will want dinner conversation to be "Can you really call this stuff chili?"

Perhaps these would be the Chili-prescriptivists and Chili-descriptivisits. The ones who just won't eat are the Chili Purists, and they are mostly no fun. A classification wrangle over a big bowl of red, though? As long as everyone is polite, and the argument doesn't get any hotter than the sauce, Beans vs No Beans, Beef vs Pork, Veggie vs Meat, that is just dinner at my house.

PS. I would eat that in a heartbeat, too, should Ghidorah want to invite me over.
posted by GenjiandProust at 1:28 PM on April 3, 2010


There are people for whom the One True Authentic Recipe happens to be whatever regional variant they grew up with, especially if it's a few generations after that dish was invented.

Take clam chowder as another example. Personally, I consider tomatoes in clam chowder to be A Crime Against Nature (okay, chowder is by its definition a cream-based soup; yes, it's possible to have a tomato-based clam soup, but that is a soup, not a chowder) -- but that's probably got more to do with the fact that I grew up in New England. Meanwhile, people who've been happily eating "Manhattan Clam 'Chowder'" are probably looking up from their bowls at me and saying, "what the hell is her problem?"

But, really, back in the mists of time, everyone just threw whatever they had into the pot and called it good. You had clams? You had broth? Great, into the pot they go. Now -- what if you had no milk or cream, but you had extra tomatoes? Throw the tomatoes in, there you go. But what if you had no tomatoes, but you have a milk cow? Great, go with that. It was all clam soup and you worked with what you had.

Or take Bouilllebaise. Today, much fuss is made over which particular types of fish are "traditionally used" in this French classic -- some say one kind, some say another -- but the truth of the matter is that French fishermen's wives just used "whatever the guys caught today." They'd make up the rest of the soup up to the point when you'd have to throw in the fish, and just keep it ready, and then when the boats came in they would dump in whatever they caught. Bass? Great, it's bass in the bouillebaisse today. Clams? Okay, we'll use clams in the bouillebaisse tonight. Not so many clams, but we've got some red snapper too? Eh, throw 'em both in the bouillebaisse.

Similarly, if you wanna put beans in chili, you'll find both people telling you you're nuts, because they never had chili with beans - but you'll also find people telling you of course, because they ALWAYS had chili with beans. But back in the mists of time, no one cared one way or the other.

Go thou and do the same.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:29 PM on April 3, 2010 [6 favorites]


Count me as one more in the "I had no idea there was chili without beans" camp. And I am a person who has eaten a lot of chili.

Honestly, if someone gave me a bowl of chili without beans, I would assume they had forgotten to put them in.
posted by Sys Rq at 1:39 PM on April 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


It all sounds a lot better than what my Mum makes which is Dolmio and ground beef with a can of baked beans chucked in. Put that on your nachos and see what you think of it!
posted by slightlybewildered at 1:43 PM on April 3, 2010


I've never had chilli without beans. Ever.

And since I've been vegetarian, I've never had chili with meat.

If beans were to be removed form chili, I don't think that I would be eating something that could then be called "chili."
posted by zizzle at 1:58 PM on April 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


There is nothing wrong with beans in chili. Here in Texas though, we might call that "bean soup."
posted by Houstonian at 2:01 PM on April 3, 2010


bean, meet plate.
posted by uni verse at 2:08 PM on April 3, 2010 [3 favorites]


There is absolutely nothing wrong with beans in chili, Texas and fat white suburbanites opining about "authenticity" be dammned.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:09 PM on April 3, 2010


There's nothing wrong with it. If you like it, then why care if someone else thinks that's not the way you're supposed to eat it. I don't like all those crazy "that's not the way it's supposed to be done!" food freaks anyway.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 2:19 PM on April 3, 2010


This is a joke question, right?
posted by 517 at 2:47 PM on April 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


If I had a spare question right now I'd probably ask "what sort of beans should you put in chilli".

Publicly it would be because chilli in the UK means red kidney beans while I prefer putting a mixture of black beans and pinto beans. Privately it would be because I'm cold and I reckon I would be able to feel the heat of the server melting...
posted by sodium lights the horizon at 3:06 PM on April 3, 2010


Another beanless regional variant is the stuff that goes on coney dogs in Michigan. You don't eat it on its own, really — it's strictly a condiment, for putting on hot dogs or french fries. And unlike, say, Cincinnati chili, it does not have beans, not even as an extra.

Now, if you're eating a bowl of chili for dinner, I don't care if it's got beans or not. I like it either way. Just don't put beans on my hot dog. That would be weird.
posted by nebulawindphone at 4:28 PM on April 3, 2010


This is a joke question, right?

No, serious. Try to find a question asking for chili recipes where someone doesn't pop in and say "whatever you do, no beans!" No one ever explains why though, and like others, I've always had beans in my chili.
posted by smackfu at 4:41 PM on April 3, 2010


It is indeed regional. When I read this question, I though: huh? Why would you put beans or meat in chili? That's just weird. Chili is green and roasted and tasty.
posted by koeselitz at 10:41 AM on April 3


Buddy, you're a letter off. Chile is green and roasted and tasty. Chili is made in a pot and is (usually) made with beans.
posted by azpenguin at 5:12 PM on April 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


The International Chili Society's cookoff rules state, "Traditional Red Chili is defined by the International Chili Society as any kind of meat or combination of meats,cooked with red chili peppers, various spices and other ingredients, with the exception of BEANS and PASTA which are strictly forbidden."

The world-championship winners' recipes (from 1967 to present) are on their website. Maybe try a few, and decide for yourself?
posted by Houstonian at 5:27 PM on April 3, 2010


Houstonian, further down that linked page, in always-fun allcaps: "PEOPLES CHOICE CHILI MUST HAVE BEANS OR PASTA." So, yeah.
posted by Sys Rq at 5:35 PM on April 3, 2010


(That said: Pasta? WTF?)
posted by Sys Rq at 5:35 PM on April 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


You're more than welcome, GenjiandProust, to come over for some chili. Just give me a couple days advance notice. Anyone else, too, though the trip length might vary. Just a note, Guiness is what I use to deglaze the pot, rather than just using water to create the stew. The basic idea is a stout. I've used Guiness, Kirin Stout, Ebisu Stout, whatever stout I have easy access to.

The pork is for a bit of mouthfeel variety. The difference between the beef and pork in each spoonful makes it better, I think. Pork shoulder, chuck roast. No ground beef, cause, well, meh. I want something that you bite into. Otherwise it's just spicy bolognese.

And just for healthiness, spice, then flour the meat, and brown it in bacon drippings. I keep a jar in the fridge. Toss in a spoonfull to brown the meat. Remove it, simmer the onions, celery, garlic, and chipotles. Add the meat again, then douse it with the stout. Simmer it a while, then add tomatoes. And remember, when doing a chili contest in Japan, you won't win if your chili is remotely spicy, or has flavors that people usually associate with chili, so don't worry about it.
posted by Ghidorah at 7:10 PM on April 3, 2010


I think there was some kind cash prize chili contest, where the rules stated no meat. It was from some Beef Growers Assoc.
posted by StickyCarpet at 8:24 PM on April 3, 2010


The chili I grew up with and enjoy until today has no beans. That does not mean that recipe is holy, and others may enjoy what they will.
posted by scottymac at 10:27 PM on April 3, 2010


After all, if you want to talk about a sacrilegious meal, the wife and I had shrimp scampi slathered with pesto, and topped with capers. It was delicious, if unconventional.
posted by scottymac at 10:31 PM on April 3, 2010


I ama native TEXAN who believed in chili, NO BEANS. Last batch I cooked, I cheated, after a friend said he liked Ranch Styles beans in his. I pureed a can or two of same, nobody knew, all liked it, purists and non. Just add them at the very end or they will burn.

There are some many variations and so little time. Also, as I am older, it takes longer to recover. That 'second burn' is pure hell at my advanced age (come on, ice cream).
posted by raildr at 11:24 PM on April 3, 2010


Basically what's "so bad" about putting beans in chili is that there's no word anymore for "a stew of meat, peppers and tomatoes where I can be totally positive that I won't be getting any beans."

Wikipedia says: Commercial chili prepared without beans is usually called "Chili No Beans*" in the United States.


"Chili No Beans" is three words. I didn't say there was no phrase to describe that, I said there was no WORD to describe that.
posted by 23skidoo at 6:47 AM on April 4, 2010


Basically what's "so bad" about putting beans in chili is that there's no word anymore for "a stew of meat, peppers and tomatoes where I can be totally positive that I won't be getting any beans."

if it is important to have a word for that then people will simply invent or appropriate a word for that. There may be other reasons for not putting beans in chili but this one is a bit silly.

It is like complaining about people who say they feel lousy when they have a cold since that means there is no longer a word anymore for "infested with lice."
posted by xetere at 7:22 AM on April 4, 2010


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