Chili, in all of its wonderful variants, is a food with deep roots in the Americas. This easy-to-cook and intensely flavorful crowd-pleaser was invented in Mexico and developed in Texas by Mexican immigrants in the 1850s, and it today comes in a variety of regional variants.
The key to making a superb chili, whether it’s a meaty pot of chili con carne or a spicy vegetarian vegan version, is the quality of the components.
So, if you’re trying to enhance your chili game, we’ve come up with twelve simple methods to create chili that will have even your most spice-averse pal asking for seconds.
- 1. Make your own chili powder
- 2. Swap chili powder for the real thing
- 3. Toast and grind your own spices
- 4. Try grinding your own chili beef
- 5. Alternatively, ditch ground and use cubed beef
- 6. Cut your vegetables into even pieces
- 7. Always pre-brine dry beans
- 8. Cook low and slow
- 9. Swap water for beer
- 10. Make your own stock
- 11. Try adding coffee and chocolate
- 12. Don’t skimp on the toppings
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1. Make your own chili powder
While store-bought chili powder is easy, there is no substitute for a handmade blend when it comes to wowing guests with the depth of flavor of your chili.
Making your own chili powder provides a richer, deeper taste than tubs of powder that may have been on a shelf for months, if not years.
You may also customize your chili powder by utilizing a specific chili pepper blend. You’ll get a greater taste if you use a combination rather than just one chili pepper.
The most frequent chile peppers are ancho and guajillo, but if you want a bit additional heat, you might add some cascabel or even arbol chilies. Try not to go too high on the Scoville scale, otherwise your meal will lose its complexity.
2. Swap chili powder for the real thing
To prevent the grittiness of powdered chiles, make your own chili paste by toasting your chili pepper mix, boiling it in homemade stock, and then pureeing it into a smooth paste.
The secret to making a superb chili paste is to combine chili peppers that hit the four major taste notes of a great chili: sweet, fiery, smoky, and fruity.
For example, choricero peppers provide a touch of sweetness, arbols add spice, smoked jalapeos (chipotles) add a smoky depth, and pasillas or anchos add a fruity vibrancy to the combination.
3. Toast and grind your own spices
Once your chili powder or paste is ready, we’ll use the same handmade is best method to the other dry ingredients, which includes toasting and grinding your own spices.
Everyone has their own spice blend for chili, but cumin and coriander are ubiquitous components that are simple to crush yourself.
- Find the freshest cumin and coriander seeds you can find and set them in a flat-bottomed skillet over medium heat, separately.
- Stir slowly with a wooden spoon to prevent charring, and remove from heat when you can clearly smell their scent.You should be able to hear them popping and cracking as well.
- Grind your roasted seeds until fine in a mortar and pestle, fine coffee grinder, or spice grinder.
- Keep freshly ground spices in sealed containers and use them within 6 months.
You may not do this for a typical Thursday night chili, but if you have visitors around, the additional bright flavor of your own home-ground spices will be well worth the effort.
4. Try grinding your own chili beef
It is commonly recognized that regular ground beef is not the highest grade meat available. One simple solution is to grind your own.
You’ll need a meat grinder for this, but they’re not costly, and many mixers come with one. Choose one that lets you to adjust the fineness of the grind. If you anticipate performing a lot of grinding, we suggest the STX International STX-3000 Turboforce Speed Electric Meat Grinder.
Meat-to-fat ratio of 20.You’ll need to choose your meat while holding your grinder. Cheaper pieces of beef work well for home grinding, so avoid using a ribeye in your mincer. Flank or chuck work well as long as you stay inside the magic 80.
To keep your meat from gumming up the grinder:
- Cut the beef into 1- to 2-inch slices and place it flat on a baking sheet in the freezer for 40 minutes. This will aid in the movement of the meat through the grinder.
- After around 40 minutes, remove the meat from the freezer and feed it into the grinder piece by piece. Remember to use the pushing attachment to keep the meat moving through the blades.
Grinding your own meat allows you to manage a variety of parameters, including the quality of the beef, fat ratios, and even the texture of the completed product.
5. Alternatively, ditch ground and use cubed beef
If you want to use nicer meat but don’t want to go to the hassle of grinding your own, you could always use cubed beef chunky chili.
If you’re using cubed beef, keep in mind that it will take longer to cook than if you’re using ground beef.
You may choose to use the following cuts of beef in your chili:
Beef chuck originates from the cow’s shoulder, and although it’s a tough cut of meat, you get a lot for your money. Cut your chuck into 1-inch cubes and cook with the rest of your chili for 90 minutes, or until tender.
Brisket is obtained from the hard-working muscles of the cow’s breast and may be particularly tough. It is most usually used for smoking or roasting. To overcome this, simmer it on low heat for at least two hours. When properly cooked, it will break apart into mouthwatering pieces.
Use leftover smoked brisket in recipes like our smoked brisket chili.
Short ribs are often served entire, however this is not always the case. Get a good rack of chuck short ribs, remove the meat off the bones, dice it up, and toss it into your chili. You may also barbecue or BBQ your ribs before adding them to your chili.
6. Cut your vegetables into even pieces
Because you want all of the components in your chili to cook at the same time, it is critical that you take the time to chop them into uniform sized quantities. The last thing you want to find is a piece of raw veggies.
7. Always pre-brine dry beans
If you’re using dry beans in your chili, brine them for 8 to 24 hours ahead of time for the best results.
Its a simple technique:
- For each pound of dry beans, dissolve 3 teaspoons of salt in 4 quarts of cold water.
- Allow the beans to soak for 8 to 24 hours in the brine.
You may speed up the process by adding a sprinkle of baking soda. If you use too much baking soda, your chili will have a soapy flavor.
8. Cook low and slow
Low and slow cooking brings out the richness of your spices and chile peppers, combining them with the rich taste of the meat.
It’s also a quick method to make a delicious chili, particularly if you have a slow cooker or crockpot. Simply combine all of the ingredients, set the slow cooker to low, and return in 8 to 10 hours for some spicy chili joy.
Chili prepared in the slow cooker might be a touch watery at times. Remove some of the veggies and beans from the chili if this is the case. Puree them and reintroduce them to thicken the mixture with their starch. You may also use ground-up tortilla chips for this.
If you don’t have a slow cooker, you can cook your chili on the stovetop low and slow, but it’s best to do so on a day when you can pop into the kitchen every now and then to make sure it doesn’t catch on the bottom of the pan.
9. Swap water for beer
Using beer instead of water in your chili may provide depth and flavour. Bud isn’t going to cut it since it doesn’t have the same robust tastes and richness as your chili. Choose a malty ale or a chocolate stout if you want something with low carbonation.
10. Make your own stock
Nothing enhances a meal more quickly than homemade stock. All you’ll need are beef bones from previous meals or purchased from the butcher, veggies such as leeks, carrots, and celery, and a huge bouquet garni of parsley, sage, and thyme.
You may customize your stock to your preferences, but Diana at The Spruce Eats provides a good starting point.
11. Try adding coffee and chocolate
Chili’s fundamental tastes are particularly South and Central American, so it’s no wonder that they match nicely with other flavors from those regions.
A cup of strongly brewed Colombian coffee or a few tablespoons of very finely ground espresso adds an earthy touch to your chili that you’ll wonder how you ever got by without.
A few pieces of dark chocolate with 80-90% cocoa solids or a few tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder does the same thing, but with a touch of sweetness.
12. Don’t skimp on the toppings
Chili without toppings is the equivalent of fries without ketchup. A combination of fresh guacamole, Monterey or Pepper Jack cheese, sour cream, tortilla chips, and jalapenos can elevate a good chili to something quite spectacular.
Toppings should not be considered an afterthought. Instead, consider them crucial components of the whole chili experience.
Topping it all off
Making a really outstanding chili does not need a lot of additional effort; it only requires refining the way you approach cooking it and the components you use.
By following our advice, you can elevate your chili game to legendary status; just be prepared to spend a significant amount of time preparing it for your family and friends.
Do you have a go-to chili paste recipe? Perhaps you have a favorite chili ingredient that you believe should be included in every bowl? We’d appreciate it if you could let us know in the comments section below.