What can I serve to an elegant crowd when I have prepared chili unknowingly!?
Just cook whatever fancy food you want and make the chili a side dish. If you want to maintain a theme, stick with Mexican dishes.
Personally, I'd just serve the chili: "here's what I made - enjoy!" and not worry about catering to the crowd. After all, it's my home and I'm not a restaurant or your mom cooking your favorite breakfast.
But that's just me.
Oh, it should be noted that chili can be refrigerated or frozen, so there is no obligation whatsoever for you to serve it to your guests tonight. Cook whatever you want for them.
As a matter of fact, chili tastes better after a couple of days as the flavors meld together.
I'd serve the chili over spaghetti and have toppings like cheese, sour cream, green onion etc. and then toss a crisp green salad and garlic bread.
Tell them it's a down home party with chili and fixin's, have everyone dress casually and bring their favorite craft beer, and don't sweat it. Even fancy people like chili.
It may be too late for you, but I would do an app that plays off the Tex-Mex theme -- maybe guacamole and pico de gallo served with endive spears instead of chips; mini tortilla "cups" filled with corn salsa; or jicama spears sprinkled with lime juice and chili powder. With the chili you could serve a crisp green salad with a lime/honey vinaigrette and individual corn muffins. Maybe a lighter dessert to balance the heavy main, like a tropical fruit salad with this tequila sauce: http://dessert.food.com/recipe/tequila-lime-syrup-for-fruit-salad-135029.
Fabulous! You are so right, thank you. I'm on it with joy!
Ina Garten likes to serve "rustic" food to chic crowds....and anything Ina does.....
what about popovers along with corn muffins, they always look fancy, or just saw a cornbread panzella salad here.
Serve it over creamy goat cheese polenta with some roasted vegetables alongside.