Although there are nearly a dozen competing theories about the history of chili, there’s one thing we can agree on: it’s delicious. Like so many staple comfort food dishes, chili is one that is quite literally stewed in centuries of history and culinary traditions.
Try our take on the Tex-Mex dish with this easy, slow-simmered North Carolina chili recipe.
Chili Con Carne: A Centuries-Old Tex-Mex Tradition
Chili was likely introduced by a group of families who emigrated from the Canary Islands to San Antonio, Texas, in the 1700s. They made a spicy stew with meat, chile peppers, onion, garlic, and cumin, a spice commonly used in Canarian cooking. The earliest record of the dish comes from J.C. Clopper, a Texan who visited San Antonio in 1827 and described a sort of hash made with peppers and cheap cuts of beef.
During the late 1800s, San Antonio was a boomtown known for its open-air food markets run by working-class Tejanas and Mexican women who introduced tamales, chili con carne, and other Tex-Mex staples to gringo palates. The Chili Queens, as they came to be known, helped popularize the dish outside of Texas.
Chili garnered national attention when the San Antonio Chili Stand opened up shop at the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago, and it took off from there. By the turn of the century, chili parlors had popped up in Texas, the Midwest, and throughout the United States.
The dish has become a staple in North Carolina, a meat-loving state where a bean-free version is commonly served atop hot dogs and hamburgers. Have a taste of history with our take on North Carolina chili. Watch the video below and follow along, or download the free North Carolina chili recipe card.
North Carolina Chili Recipe
- 2 pounds ground beef
- 2 onions, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup chili powder
- 1 cup water
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 3 (14.5-ounce) cans fire-roasted diced tomatoes
- 1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
- 1 (15-ounce) can kidney beans, drained
- Shredded cheddar, for serving
- Chopped green onions, for serving
- Combine ground beef, onion, and garlic in a large stockpot. Cook and stir over medium heat until beef is brown. Drain.
- Stir in chili powder, sugar, salt, oregano, water, tomatoes, and tomato sauce. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and cover. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour.
- Dress it up, if you like, with your favorite toppings!
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