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Chili, Chili, Chili

Chili originated as a way to make great-tasting, tough cuts of meat tender, so it's easy on the budget and tastes even better if made ahead. Just about the only thing chili fanciers agree on is that chili originated in Texas, not Mexico. For fresh, juicy crunch, top chili with chopped sweet onions. To sop up those delicious juices, serve with warm cornbread, and round out the meal with colorful slaw.

OSO Sweet onions (mild enough for children and older folks, with no tears or onion-breath) are grown at the foot of Chile's Andes Mountains, where perfect growing conditions produce large, juicy onions with record-high sugar content, crisp texture and mild flavor that doesn't kick back. They contain so little pyruvic acid--the substance that causes tearing, harshness and indigestion--that they are gentle enough raw for chili, sandwiches or salads; versatile enough to caramelize, sauté, grill, fry or roast. Onions contain naturally occurring phytochemicals that can reduce the risk of cancer and protect against heart disease.

Fire up a big "bowl of red" with zesty OSO Sweet onions, in peak season just in time for the big games--no tickets needed for this chili-lovers feast.

Vegetarian Chili

2 tablespoons canola oil
1 OSO Sweet onion, chopped
3 carrots, diced
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 (28 oz) can chopped tomatoes
1 butternut squash, peeled and diced (or 1 lb package diced butternut)
1 small celeriac (celery root), peeled and diced
1 (1 lb) bag frozen corn
2 (15 oz) cans dark red kidney beans
2 (15 oz) cans black beans
Salt to taste
1/4 cup chili powder
2 chipotle chiles in adobo, chopped

Heat oil in large Dutch oven. Add onions, carrots and garlic and cook over medium heat 5 minutes, until crisp-tender. Add tomatoes, butternut squash and celery root and bring to boil. Cover and simmer 20 minutes. Stir in remaining ingredients, bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until chili has thickened. Serves 8.

Veggie Slaw

3/4 cup canola oil
6 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons coarse mustard
2 tablespoons poppy seeds
2 teaspoons celery seeds
Salt and black pepper to taste

Vegetables: (or substitute 2 pounds precut slaw mix)
1 head curly cabbage (Savoy or napa), shredded
1 small head red cabbage, shredded
1 pound carrots, shredded
2 colorful bell peppers, thinly sliced
1 cup thinly sliced OSO Sweet onion

Whisk together dressing ingredients. Toss with vegetables, season to taste and marinate in refrigerator at least 30 minutes before serving. Serves 8.

Five-Way Cincinnati-Style Turkey Chili

1/4 cup canola oil, divided
3 pounds ground turkey (dark meat preferred for moistness)
1 OSO Sweet onion, chopped
2 teaspoons chopped garlic
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 (12 oz) can tomato paste, diluted in 1 quart water
2 tablespoons chile powder
1 tablespoon cinnamon
4 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Salt and black pepper to taste
1 pound spaghetti

1 (15 oz) can dark red kidney beans, rinsed, drained and heated
1/2 pound sharp cheddar, shredded
1 OSO Sweet onion, chopped

In large Dutch oven over medium-high heat, heat half of oil and brown turkey. Remove and reserve. Add remaining oil to same pot, and lightly brown onion and garlic. Stir in remaining ingredients, seasoning to taste with salt and pepper, and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Bring large pot of salted water to boil. Add spaghetti and cook until "al dente." Drain well and place in large serving bowl. Top with chili (discarding bay leaves). Serve with beans, cheese and onions as garnishes. Cook's Tip: For lower fat chili, cool and then refrigerate overnight. The next day, remove and discard any solidified orange-colored fat from the surface. Serves 8.

Texas Beef Chili

8 dried ancho chiles, trimmed and seeded
3 pounds ground beef, preferably coarse-ground chuck
1/4 cup canola oil, divided
1 OSO Sweet onion, diced
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
2 tablespoons sweet paprika
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon oregano
1 teaspoon ground allspice
2 (15 oz) cans pinto beans
Salt to taste

Chopped colorful bell peppers for garnish

Soak dried chiles in 1 quart warm water to soften about 15 minutes. In blender, puree chiles with their liquid. In large Dutch oven over medium-high heat, heat half of oil and brown beef. Remove and reserve. Add remaining oil to same pan, and lightly brown onion and garlic. Stir in paprika, cumin, oregano and allspice. Add chile puree, beef, beans and salt to taste, and bring to boil. Cover and simmer 1 hour, or until chili is rich and concentrated. Offer chopped bell peppers to garnish. Chef's Tip: One secret to great chili is to use coarsely ground beef. Ask the butcher to coarse-grind beef chuck. Dried chile anchos can be found in the Mexican section of supermarkets. Serves 8.

Confetti Cornbread

1 OSO Sweet onion, diced
2 colorful bell peppers, diced
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 pound bag (or 2 cups) frozen corn
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups cornmeal, preferably stone-ground
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
2 cups buttermilk
6 eggs

Preheat oven to 350 F. In skillet, fry onions and peppers in 2 tablespoons butter till crisp-tender. Remove from heat, stir in corn and reserve. Combine flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, sugar and salt in large bowl. Lightly beat together 1 stick melted butter, buttermilk and eggs. Pour into flour mixture and whisk together until just combined. Fold in vegetables. Butter 9- by 13-inch baking pan. Pour in batter and bake 45 minutes or until cornbread is set in center. Serves 8.

--Chili was called "Soup of the Devil" by Spanish priests who warned against the passion provoked by hot chile peppers, thereby making it immensely popular.

--The first chile powders were concocted around 1850 by chuckwagon cooks on the trail to feed cowboys.

--In the late 1800s the Texas prison system was renowned for its chili. Freed inmates often wrote for the recipe, saying what they missed most was a really good bowl of chili.

--Till the 1930s, San Antonio's "Chili Queens" sold homemade chili from colorful wagons in the main plaza. By the 1930s there was hardly a town in Texas that didn't have its own chili parlor.

--Dave Chasen, of Hollywood's famed Chasen's Restaurant, personally cooked up his secret-recipe chili prized by stars like Clark Gable and Elizabeth Taylor every Sunday.

Grated cheddar
Chopped sweet bell peppers
and/or jalapeños
Diced OSO Sweet onions
Chopped fresh tomatoes
Chopped cilantro
Diced avocado
Sour cream
Wedges of lime

Visit award-winning sweetonionsource.com to learn more about sweet onions and to get health information, quick tips and terrific recipes.

"Anybody that eats chili can't be all bad." Said about Billy the Kid "Wish I had time for just one more bowl of chili." Alleged last words of Kit Carson, frontiersman.


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