Tips for Taking your Chili to the Next Level
It may seem like a simple, humble recipe, but there are few dishes more proudly simmered than chili. This flavorful combination of protein, beans, spices, vegetables, and broth warms you from the inside out and sets your taste buds tingling. You can boost your chili-making game and take this Southern staple to the next level with these five helpful tips.
Spice Things Up
Chili enthusiasts might tell you that it's all about the spices. You know the classics: cumin, chili powder, and cayenne. But you definitely don't have to stop there. Try adding a little something unexpected to your chili, like smoked paprika, sumac, fenugreek, or cinnamon. Then, take it up another notch by cooking those spices in butter or oil once your onions, garlic, and peppers are nearly finished sautéing. This helps the spices release their full flavors.
You can easily make a delicious vegetarian chili. However, if you're going to go the "con carne" route, there are a few ways to amp up the flavor. Tossing ground beef in a mix of baking soda, salt, and water and letting it soak for about 20 minutes is a great way to help make the meat juicier and brown more evenly. Even better? Have your butcher grind it during your shopping trip to Food Lion to make sure it's as fresh as possible.
Handle Veggies Like a Boss
No matter what vegetables you like adding to your pot, there's a single chili-boss rule to try out: chop them all in same-sized pieces. This is the key to making sure everything cooks evenly. That way, you won't get tender bits of bell pepper in one bite and mushy pepper bits in another.
Add a Little Liquor
This may sound unconventional, but it turns out that adding a little bit of hard liquor like vodka or tequila near the end of the cooking process helps release more of the flavors in all those spices you've put into the pot. The alcohol cooks out and shouldn't add much of its own flavor to the mix.
Stovetop vs. Slow Cooker
There's no single way to cook an amazing pot of next-level chili. But no matter what you choose, it helps to follow a few basic rules. Sauté your veggies and spices first. Brown your meats and then layer the flavors in the pot, whether it's on the stove or inserted into your slow cooker. The flavors can mingle and simmer best this way, deepening the deliciousness of your chili.