Whitetail Hunting photo

by David Draper

Perhaps more so than any other dish, chili is open to endless adaptations. Every hunter has his own secret ingredient for wild game chili, as well as idea of how chili should, or shouldn’t, taste. The beans-versus-no-beans argument is well known to anyone who has talked to a Texan about chili. But what about Cincinnati chili, which forgoes any type of chili powder or peppers and is served over spaghetti? As unusual as that sounds, it’s hugely popular in its namesake city, and I’m sure darn good. Admittedly, I haven’t had the opportunity to try it, but certainly wouldn’t turn down a bowl.

Many folks have a set chili recipe they’ve perfected over the years, while others just wing it, experimenting with each batch. Some recipes are pretty standard fare, while others call for unusual ingredients. For example, in college I threw a fist full of white sugar into a batch of deer chili and have been doing it ever since. My good friend’s mother has a rather bizarre secret chili ingredient: chocolate chips. They give the chili a flavor that reminds me of Mexico. Others swear by a certain brand of beer.

I want to know what your secret chili ingredient is. Share in the comments section, and explain what it adds to the dish. The two readers with the best use of an unusual or uncommon ingredient will win the above-pictured mortar and pestle set, courtesy of Cabela’s. (Contest ends Monday, February 14, at 10 a.m. EST.) Good luck!