Chili is a great one-pot meal to warm you up on cold winter night. With or without beans, whether you choose beef, chicken, turkey or pork, spicy or smoky there is no wrong way to make chili. Following these helpful guidelines will ensure your chili is a hit at the dinner table.
The first thing to take into consideration is how much spiciness you and your diners can handle? Adding a combination of different chili peppers will create a rich and complex flavor, just be sure to know how spicy the peppers you chose are. As a general rule, the larger peppers like banana and pablano are less spicy than the small ones such as jalapeno, serrano and habanero. Remember that the majority of spice is in the seed and vein of the pepper, you can control spice by adding the seeds or leaving them out.
The second important step is to be sure to brown or sear your meat first, before adding anything else. This is true whether using ground meat our chunks of beef. This will help to lock in the flavor of the meat. Also, keep in mind that when using cheaper cuts of meat you will have to cook the chili longer to tenderize it. Once the meat is brown, you can add your aromatics such as onion, garlic, and peppers. Sweat these vegetables for a bit before adding spices, tomatoes, beans and other vegetables. Use chicken or beef broth as a liquid instead of water to add more flavor.
Dried spices are really what will take the flavor of your chili to the next level. . Be sure that the spices you choose have not sat on the pantry shelf too long, because they will lack in flavor and potency. Chili powder, cayenne pepper, cumin, coriander, oregano, and paprika are all spices that go wonderfully in chili. Cinnamon and clove are spices that we usually don’t use in savory cooking, but that will give your chili a very unique flavor.
Chili is a great vessel for fresh vegetables. Heartier vegetables such as corn, sweet potatoes, carrots and squashes hold up the best. Cut the vegetables into small pieces and simmer in the pot with all the other ingredients. Also, vegetarian chili is a wonderful healthy meal feel free to leave out the meat all together and load in the veggies.
Some other simple tips to remember when making chili are:
1. The longer it sits the better it tastes. Make it a day ahead.
2. You can add liquid while it is cooking if it becomes too thick.
3. Adding tomato paste or cornstarch will thicken a chili that has become too thin.
4. Always use the freshest ingredients. You’ll thank yourself later!
5. If your chili is too spicy throw in some brown sugar.
6. Try a different kind of bean or combination of beans such as cannelini, black, or garbanzo. Chili is not just for kidney beans anymore!
7. Almost as important as the chili itself, are the toppings. Set out a variety of items such as chopped peppers, cilantro, tortillas, cheese and sour cream.
Awesome Chili Recipes:
Cornmeal Waffles with Spicy Chili
Five Alarm Chili in a Biscuit Bowl
Chili in a Biscuit Bowl
White Bean Chili
Speedy Veggie Chili
Chili con Queso Dip
Taco Chili with Mix
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