Today is National Chili Day and who doesn't love a good bowl of chili?  Seriously, chili might be one of the most perfect foods on earth. It's hearty, it's cheap to make, and it's better the next day.

Of course, we could get into lengthy debates about what is actually chili and what isn't. Folks down in Texas, they're pretty particular about chili. Authentic Texas chili doesn't have beans or tomatoes. It's just meat and chili paste.

Over in Ohio (Cincinnati in particular), they do chili their own way as well. In fact, Cincinnati-style chili is made with spices like cinnamon, cloves, and even chocolate giving it a bit of a sweet taste, and is then served over spaghetti with cheese on top. My friend Abe recently made up a batch of this for a Super Bowl party we attended and I have to say, I was impressed.

So how about Montana? What are Montanans putting in their chili?

I grew up putting a big spoonful of peanut butter in my chili.  I'm not sure how that started, but I've done it my whole life and I absolutely recommend it to everyone to try (unless of course, you have a peanut allergy).  It adds a nice creamy texture to the dish and really does make a good bowl of chili, a great bowl of chili.

Spoon with Peanut Butter

A few people mentioned bar b q sauce, while a couple of other Montanans said they put mustard in theirs. Hot Sauce was another condiment that received votes. Oh, and I can't forget the booze. More than one person mentioned putting beer, wine, or whiskey in their chili. Others go for a more traditional add-in, such as cornbread. However, we did have someone tell us they actually put cinnamon rolls in their chili. Another big surprise was that quite a few folks add cocoa.

Pumpkin made the list, as did maple syrup.

My friend Jon from Butte has his own style when it comes to making chili.  He sautee's bell peppers, celery, and onions in a bunch of butter before adding the meat (no beans), a couple of cans of Rotel, sauce, and then pours it over Frito Chips and tops it with sour cream and shredded cheese.

chili con carne

Another beloved chili option here in Montana is chili made from wild game. Elk, Bison, and Venison chili are very popular and let's be honest here, very delicious. Corn is a popular ingredient for those going for the "Southwest" style of chili and we even had someone say they put mushrooms in their chili.

Whatever you decide to add, be sure and share your secrets with us. Oh, and happy National Chili Day!

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