Chili is a metaphysical thing in the world of cooking. There are major competitions all over the United States, and believe me they can get really cutthroat. People take their chili seriously! Chili is a creation that is highly personal to the person that has created the dish. Lots of folks can work a lifetime to perfect a chili recipe and that is no joke. Just ask anyone that has ever competed in a chili cook off. If you are a newbie to the world of chili and want to get out of “the canned stuff,” then welcome! Even if you are an old hat at making chili, welcome! The tips herein will do no harm and only enhance your chili experience! Lets get some tips!
Tip 1. What if your chili is too thick? What kind of chili is it? White?, Red? Beef? Chicken? If your chili is too thick do not use water to thin it out that is what everyone in the world does. Use broth instead! Water will “kill” the hard worked for flavor of your chili creation. Broth adds the liquid that you need and unlike water it also adds flavor and depth to your chili recipe!
Tip 2. What if your chili is way to thin? You could add some tomato paste to it as one way to thicken it. Try it a little bit by little bit until you achieve the consistency that you are looking for! What if the tomato paste does not make your chili thick the way you want it to? Then the next step is to try to use something like cornstarch or corn flour commonly called masa flour! You can also try the old school use of cornmeal. I like this one myself. Cornmeal gives a good texture. Some people I know in the Southern United States say to just use good old fashioned instant mashed potatoes. Not bad! It works and adds texture as well. Then the is the no calorie way to do it by using arrow root mixed with a bit of water and then added to the chili and stirred. As you can see there are many way to make your chili thicker. The choice is yours and you should experiment.
Tip 3. Most people that I know of that make chili at home just use plain old boring everyday Jalapeno’s. This is fine in most cases and they do bring the “heat!” But the fact of the matter is that there is a world of different chilies out there. Anaheim, Poblano, Serrano, Sante Fe Chilies, Ancho Chilies, The very popular these days Chipotle in Adobo sauce or Chipotle powder, Cayenne, Tabascos, Thai Chili, Habanera, and Scotch Bonnets! The list can go on and on from country to country. So why not try to use more than one type of chili pepper in your chili? Change the flavor, do not settle for the mundane! Have fun!
Tip 4. first thing is first! Cook the meat! Any meat that you are using should be cooked first. Brown the meat way before you have to add the liquids to the recipe. Browning the meat aids in locking in the flavor of the meat. You do not want your meat to get soggy with the liquids from the chili recipe. I prefer to sear cook my meat. That is turn the flame up high and putting the meat in the pan of my fave the cast iron skillet and so it sizzles quick and stir it around a bit and then turn the heat down. This is a classic searing technique that locks the flavor into the meat.
Tip 5. The better the meat the better the meal! It is a fact that the better the quality of any meat or main component for a meal the better the meal. Remember that is it quality over quantity! Just because you can get some meats cheap and get lot’s of it does not mean that it is quality meat and that you will get a quality meal. If you have to use a cheaper meat that is less tender then expect to cook your chili longer to soften it up and consider using a meat tenderizer on it to aid in the softening of the cheaper cuts and cook the chili longer and you should be OK. In the long run if you can afford to get the better cuts then I always day do it!