Texas chiliheads tend to be persnickety about the exact, correct recipe for their venerated dish, but the rest of the Southwest is full of restaurants that play with the formula and create bowls of chili that may not be true to the dish’s historical roots as sold in the San Antonio Market in the nineteenth century but are memorably delicious. One of the strangest and, to our taste buds, most haunting such creations is burnt-end chili at the Woodyard in Kansas City, Kansas.
The sustaining plateful of hearty, bean-choked chili is combined with a large portion of burnt-end barbecue. Burnt ends, also known as brownies, are the most concentrated form of barbecue, where the most flavor resides and the most intense chewing satisfaction is found. All by themselves, they can be too, too much, the savory equivalent of an overlarge slice of flourless chocolate cake. But pair burnt ends with the chili’s starchy multibean quietude and you have a mighty bowl full of satisfaction. Almost as beguiling as the flavor poise of this ingenious dish is its textural range, which includes nuggets of meat that are velvety and some that are crunchy-crisp.