Originally posted by Sasaku
OK, so what's the best liquid for chili?
When I was first teaching myself to cook and venturing beyond the recipes written down by my mother, I blundered across Wick Fowler's 2 Alarm Chili Mix in the grocery store and used it exclusively for years. It calls for 1 8oz. can of tomato sauce and 2 cans of water for 2 lbs. of meat.
I was very surprised many years later to discover some people have issues with the use of any tomatoes in chili and the opinions are as strong as those concerning beans. I've only made chili once or twice without tomato sauce, and I definitely prefer tomato sauce over whole tomato products, but I have had some very good bowls of chili that I don't think had any tomato product in them.
In the late 60s and 70s, Shiner Beer was the favorite of hippies and the counter-culture set in Houston and Austin; it was the only beer on the menu of a very popular restaurant in Houston that served macrobiotic dishes. I never really cared for Shiner that much but on the urging of friends I used it a couple of times in the Wick Fowler mix, but I can't recall what effect it had, other than that I stopped using it! That brew has since been reformulated, I think, to give it a more mainstream flavor profile, and the beer from that brewery that is favored now (by many on this board, tho not me) is Shiner Bock.
I agree with what's already been said that chili is really about the spices. I would think the formula would be to select a beer that you like and try adding a little bit of it to your chili to see if you like the taste. I would tend to favor a dark beer.
Interesting statistics: in the Stern's Chili Nation, which has recipes from all 50 states, only 6 call for beer, about half call for the addition of either tomatoes or tomato sauce or paste. Beef stock and chicken stock are not indexed.
In the chapter on chili in Jamison and Jamison's Texas Home Cooking, of 12 recipes, 3 call for beef stock, 5 call for tomatoes in some form, 3 call for beer and one (a 2 time world championship chili) calls for chicken stock, tomatoes and beer!