Chili is a popular dish, and can be greatly improved by serving it with appropriate companion dishes. Because the consistency of chili is a lot like soup, it goes well with foods that have more body and consistency to them such as breads, and starchy foods such as rice or potatoes.
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Cornbread is a traditional accompanying food for chili. The flavors of the beans in the chili and the cornmeal in the cornbread create a natural and complementary contrast. The texture of the cornbread also goes well with chili, and the absorbency of the cornbread makes it ideal for cleaning out your chili bowl when you're finished, so you don't waste a drop of your delicious chili.
Chips provide a nice complement to the flavors of chili. Corn chips and potato chips go equally well with chili, and can be served as a side dish or just eaten out of the bag in a less formal setting. If you made a large pot of chili and have leftovers, you can make nachos the next day by laying out a bed of corn chips, covering them with chili and grated cheese, and heating the concoction up in a toaster oven for a few minutes.
Sour cream is the ideal topping for chili. It makes the dish look nicer when it is served, and the sour cream provides a cooling effect when the chili is eaten. Sour cream is particularly welcome if the chili was made with serious spices like habanero peppers, which are unbelievably hot. If you inflict this level of heat on your dinner guests, have a bowl of extra sour cream available on the table in addition to the dollop of sour cream on top of the serving of chili.
A green salad makes a delicious side dish for a big bowl of chili. In addition to providing a cooling break for the palate and a healthy nutritional boost, the green of the salad will even make your table more visually appealing as it contrasts with the deep red of the chili. Try a salad with leafy lettuce, spinach, feta cheese, cucumbers and slices of fresh tomato.