Chili is a stew-like dish that differs from region to region. Also known as Chili Con Carne (chili with meat), chili, like stew, is made with several different ingredients and cooked for an extended period of time. Chili recipes are something like stew recipes. Many are good, some are bad and they're all a little different. One thing they do have in common is that everyone thinks they have the best chili recipe.

Depending on the region, the chili may or may not contain beans. Chili purists may point out that real chili does not contain beans, but that answer may vary depending on whom you ask.

One thing that most chili recipes have in common is that they contain some kind of meat and red chili powder. I say most because there are many variations of vegetarian chili and chicken chili, the latter of which is usually white in color, with little or no red chili added.

The meat found in chili is usually beef, although there are many other types of meat that are also used. Some very good chili recipes use venison or buffalo. And there are even chili recipes that use exotic meats such as kangaroo.

A key ingredient in most chili recipes is chili powder. This is a spice mix containing a variety of different spices, most notably ground red chilies, cumin, and garlic. This is not to be confused with ground chili or ground red pepper, which is simply the dried chili pepper ground into a powder. To forego using premixed chili powder, a chili recipe often makes use of the individual ingredients to create their own unique taste.

Regional variations of chili are wide ranging, from chili containing rice, celery, or corn to dessert like ingredients such as brown sugar or even peanut butter.

Cincinnati chili probably has the most unique flavor and ingredients, and is usually served over spaghetti. This regional variation often contains cinnamon and chocolate or cocoa.

Chili can be served many ways. By itself, it can be a substantial dish and topped with raw onions and cheddar cheese and served with crackers. It can be used as a topping for hot dogs or as mentioned above, spaghetti or other pasta. Chili can be wrapped in a tortilla and eaten as a burrito. Or it can be eaten on a hamburger bun like a sloppy joe sandwich.

If you've never made chili before it can seem a bit overwhelming with all the possible variations. Searching the Web trying to find a good recipe for your first attempt can be a daunting task with all the recipes available.

To get you started, here is a good resource for your first pot of chili. It's easy and makes a really good meal.

Easy Chili Recipes

Try some of those variations to see how easy good chili can be.