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Volume III
June, 2013

Newsletter Home / Table Talk

Easy Entertaining

The Manly Chili Bar

By Sharon Ng

When you have guests around, and want to entertain, feed and not be stuck in the kitchen, a chili bar is a great way to do it! A chili bar is great for football game watching, for family get togethers, for tailgating and pleases both men and women.

One positive about chili bars is that chili can be relatively inexpensive, and it feeds a lot of people. It is not necessary to keep many things warm at one time, and can be cooked in a slowcooker, which keeps the house cool during the summer. Chili can also easily be served over buns, bread, and over hot dogs.

Here are some tips to make your Chili bar successful.

Start with the base; the chili of course. There are a surprisingly many options when it comes to chili. You don't have to choose just one either. Types vary from vegetarian options, beany or beanless, meaty with chicken or beef, or even bear, thin or thick, red bean or white bean?. You pick!

Figure out how you are going to keep the chili warm. Options could be slowcooker, stovetop, or even in a dutch oven or on a grill pan. Some of these options will allow you to cook the chili with the same method, or you can cook it before hand and just warm it for serving (this method is great if you are planning the chili bar during a camping excursion or some other event when you won't have time to be in the kitchen, just freeze it in a zipper bag and load it into a cooler).

How will you serve the chili? Popular options are bread bowls, over hotdogs, over hamburger buns, with cornbread, or just in mugs or bowls. I love a good walking Chili...continue reading to learn how to do this!

Toppings for chili are pretty much my favorite part, and are endless. Most popular options are:

  • Shredded cheddar cheese
  • Shredded Jack cheese
  • Chopped onion
  • Minced green onion
  • Sour Cream
  • Diced tomato
  • Crumbled Bacon
  • Saltine Crackers
  • Corn chips
  • Soup crackers/also called oyster crackers
  • Tater tots
  • Hot sauce
  • Cilantro
  • Chopped avocado
  • Salsa
  • Nacho Cheese
  • Cubed polenta
  • Chopped black olive
  • Scoopable tortilla chips
  • Diced chilis

Some additional ideas that you may have not thought of, which are not only yummy but can be conversation starters:

  • Shaved or chopped bittersweet chocolate (this is actually used quite often as a chili ingredient).
  • Corn nuts
  • Crumbled Corn bread
  • Fancier cheeses, such as gruyere, goat, queso fresco, or manchego chees
  • Thinly sliced tortillas
  • Diced mango
  • Lime wedges
  • Chow mein noodle

There really are tons of options!

Don't forget to have some milk on hand for those people who try to outdo another with spice (you KNOW this happens when you get a bunch of guys together!) and for a funny, and possibly necessary "topping" have a bowl of antacids nearby.

Here is a simple, easy to transport idea that we call Walking Chili, it really is a great way to serve Chili when camping or tailgating, and the clean up does itself!

Walking Chili for 3

3 single-serve bags of Frito Fritos Original Corn Chips
1 (24-ounce) can preferred chili (or use homemade!)
Toppings as desired (diced tomato, chopped onion, sliced olives, sour cream or shredded cheddar cheese)

Warm chili. Open bag of chips, place one serving of warm chili in bag, on top of chips, finish with desired toppings. Fold top of bag over and give the bag a little shake. Reopen top of bag and eat from the bag with a spork. This recipe is easy to increase the yield, and for heartier appetites, larger chip bags can be used, and the amount of chili can be adjusted.

Recipe formatted with the Cook'n Recipe Software from DVO Enterprises.

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Sharon Ng
Monthly Newsletter Contributor since 2012

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