Hey Look, We’re Still Arguing About Toppings
Stephanie Stradley: Think the unwarranted attack on diced raw onion sounds more like a personal problem. I’ve never experienced repeater issues with onions but I have a cast iron stomach. Nice thing about toppings is they are optional. But just as I don’t like imperious BBQ joints that don’t offer sauce, I think it is kind of rude not to at least offer the basics of shredded cheese, sour cream, perfectly diced raw onion to go with your chili.
Albert Burneko: HEY GUYS I’VE BEEN AWAY FROM THE COMPUTER ALL WEEKEND HOLY CRAP THIS IS A LONG CHAIN I’M GONNA TRY TO CATCH UP BUT ONE POINT I DID WANT TO MAKE IS THAT TOPPINGS ARE WONDERFUL.
Sarah: I think the toppings point can be made about any food. Pizza, Bloody Marys, pasta. Sure it’s awesome on its own, but hell if I am not going to put all the grated parm I can on a dish of spaghetti because it’s the only time I can eat cheese as a free woman and not be judged.
RobotsFightingDinosaurs: Here are my specific thoughts re: toppings. ALWAYS try the chili first, plain, as the person who cooked it intended. Half of this is politeness, half is actually giving yourself a chance to see what would pair well with the chili. I’m personally a fan of the crunch that white/yellow onions can give to a chili dish, but the same effect can be gotten with celery or lettuce without overwhelming the palate. Sour cream is another of my favorites with most standard chilis just because chili gets so silky and delicious when you add a bit of it. Cheese is wonderful. But I think the key, much like any other thing in life, is moderation. If you add too much shit to the chili, it stops becoming chili, and furthermore, it loses lots of the flavors that the person that made it worked to create.
Dan Pashman: To be clear, I don’t think toppings are always bad or always good. It depends on the chili (or pizza) in question. But if you dump cheese, sour cream, and onions on top of your chili without even tasting it, then you probably shouldn’t bother making a chili with two dozen ingredients that takes a whole day to prepare, as many of the chilis discussed here do. Many pizzas are made better with toppings, but if you have a pizza where the dough and sauce were made fresh in house and the fresh mozzarella is drop dead ridiculous and there’s fresh basil and a sprinkle of olive oil and it’s cooked in brick or coal oven by someone who can tell where in the oven to place the pizza by the color of the coals at any given moment, you should respect that shit.
Sarah: I notice we’ve all been talking about cooking in pots or dutch ovens. No slow cooker chili making fans here?
RobotsFightingDinosaurs: I mean, I don’t have a slow cooker.
Unsilent: I have made chili in a slow cooker a few times. It’s OK, but you need a pan or dutch oven to brown the meat anyway, so what’s the point?
Old James: I’m all for toppings. As a child of the public school system, the Texas Straw Hat (chili and cheese globbed on top of Fritos) is probably to blame for this. But even though I’ve (allegedly) stepped my chili game up in the past couple years, I still like the crunch the corn chips add. And I’m in the school of “Letting cheese melt on top makes everything better”. But one trick I picked up on my chili journey, and will never veer from, was topping my mess with a scoop of guacamole.
So. Is the chili good nekkid? Yes. Do the toppings add something? I think so. Does the guacamole introduce red onions to the dish? YOU’RE DAMN RIGHT IT DOES CONANT.
Oh, and I use a slow cooker. No specific reason, other than I have one, and don’t own a pot big enough to simmer my the batch my chili recipe yields. That also makes it easier to serve and keep warm if you’re having guests over.
Unsilent: The only rule I have for toppings is to do me the courtesy of tasting it straight up. After that, do what you have to.
Chris Mueller: Crap, this is a whole lot to read through. Chili should have beans. Chili should not be topped by anything at first. Chili needs to be tried as it was prepared, with no alterations. This is my statement of faith. I’ll try to add in any other thoughts when I can.
Also, I’m Chris. I’m in sports radio, but please don’t judge me on that fact alone, or I’m screwed. Pleased to make the chili-talking acquaintance of those of you I did not previously know.
Stephanie Stradley: Given how many bloggers are a part of this conversation, we really aren’t in a position to judge anyone.
As for tasting without toppings first, eh. It’s not like we are talking about adding salt to food without tasting it. It’s not like drenching a great piece of sushi. It is mfing chili. Chili. We’re talking about chili. Whether it is foofoo chili or no, the toppings are just a complement and not a coverup. It doesn’t disguise the taste of the chili unless you put something horrible on it like bad green onions.
RobotsFightingDinosaurs: Steph, I really don’t know. I’m the first to admit that chili is best when it’s messy, dumb, stupid, and ridiculous. But especially with toppings like sour cream (and hot sauce), it’s possible to completely drown a chili. I’ve done it, and done it multiple times. There’s nothing sadder than realizing you’re pretty much eating what tastes like a bowl of sour cream and cheddar cheese with louisiana hot sauce.
Unsilent: That’s when you help yourself to more chili.
Dan Pashman: Ah, ratio management, a topic as old as time itself.
Sarah: I don’t want to alarm anyone, but Albert just sent me a chicken chili recipe that wasn’t a white chicken chili recipe. It’s basically the chili equivalent of, “Come at me, bro” and I respect that.
Hulk also mentioned in his chili recipe that it felt weird measuring out things for a recipe, which I agree with. It’s very hard to write down what you sort of feel out in the kitchen, especially with chili. Did anyone have the same reaction?
(This seems like a nice way to wrap up the discussion.)
I want more like this!
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