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Looking for advice to improve my chili game

slimshady

¡Mira, una ardilla!
Hi there, been cooking chilli for a while now, but I still feel there's something missing with it. The flavor isn't as round, zesty and spicy as the ones I tasted when I visited the US.

I have the boundary of my wife not enjoying hot spicy food, so stuffing the pot with jalapeños isn't an option.

Do you guys have any advice or good recipe to pass along? I have prepared home made chili powder (the one with garlic, onion, cayenne pepper, paprika, oregano, cummin and salt) following a recipe I found online, but as I said before, there's something missing from the seasoning.

PS, I'd like the recipe to skip pre-prepared ingredients, such as brand sauces and that kind of stuff if possible.
 
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velocipedist

Monkey
Jul 11, 2006
512
607
Cloudland Georgia
I have found infused olvie oils, with serrano, jalapeno, and garlic (or if I am lazy finely minced) low~med heat and saute your dry spices.
I would cook my veggies in this, browning my meat separately, drain grease and combine all ingredients and stew on low heat.

I know you wanted to avoid sauces, but knowing the desired flavor profile ie what is missing sweet, tart, salt, etc. Depending on that I might add a dash of worcestershire and or soy sauce to finish.

Now I need to go make chili...
 

rideit

Bob the Builder
Aug 24, 2004
14,476
5,491
In the cleavage of the Tetons
Tip: toast your cumin until just smoking before grinding with a mortar and pestle.
if you don’t do this already, you will thank me.
use twice as much as any recipe suggests.
significantly improves its depth of flavor, IMO.
 

slimshady

¡Mira, una ardilla!
Tip: toast your cumin until just smoking before grinding with a mortar and pestle.
if you don’t do this already, you will thank me.
use twice as much as any recipe suggests.
significantly improves its depth of flavor, IMO.
Thanks, this has been a regular base of my cooking since I learned to make home made curry many years ago. And you are also right on the amount of cumin, why do all the recipes minimize it?
 

jonKranked

Detective Dookie
Nov 10, 2005
70,766
13,319
media blackout
fresh peppers over spices. it is the way. substitute some of your broth with beer (the darker the better). include some earthy spices to round out the flavor profile. a touch of honey will help balance the heat.
 

slimshady

¡Mira, una ardilla!
I read a lot of recipes where some of the broth/stock is replaced by beer. Gotta try that. Thanks for the tip.

I usually start by heating the oil, then throwing in the onions, bell peppers and half the jalapeños until soft. Sometimes I add chopped garlic. Then I add half the cumin and the cayenne, a bit of salt to activate them. Then I add the meat and have it cooked evenly. Then I add a bit of tomato paste and fresh diced tomatoes. Then the beans and the meat stock. Cook until the beans are soft, then add the other half of the spice/chili powder, and the other half of the jalapeños.

My wife isn't a fan of hot/spicy food although she kinda tolerates it. I must have some dragon blood running through my veins, since i can have a fuck ton of spice ;-). In order to make the spicyness more tolerable to her, I usually sprinkle some lime zests and a bit of juice before serving.

Any downsides/objections to this method? Any improvements?
 

dan-o

Turbo Monkey
Jun 30, 2004
6,499
2,806
Aside from advise above, I suggest searing/browning the meat first.
Then drain the fat and remove/set aside while you do veg/spices etc.
When everything is combined toss the meat back in.
 

Nick

My name is Nick
Sep 21, 2001
19,992
7,697
behind you, don't wait up.
I do 3-beans, beef and/or turkey, gotta have diced tomatoes, chili seasoning is pretty dialed vs my ability to season properly so I use that, onion, and for heat I use dried hot peppers from my family. The current batch is ground habanero, jalapenos, and yellow jellybeans, which have a great flavor and heat.
If you have time and a few bucks, get a pot roast and cube it up, brown it and slow cook with everything. :drool:

If you like having bags 'o seasoning around, El Guapo makes very good stuff.

Corn chips on the bottom of a bowl, big scoop of chili, diced green onion, sharp cheddar if you like, and a blop of sour cream in case you were heavy handed with the hot peppers.
 

slimshady

¡Mira, una ardilla!
Do you have access to chipotle in adobo?

View attachment 144232
Nope, not here in Argentina...

Another thing I really like to add is Worcestershire sauce. It adds some good umami.

are you actually a gringo, making N. American Chili? :nose:
I have Worcestershire sauce, I use it to make my BBQ sauce mostly. Intended to try it with the chili but wasn't sure about it. I'll give it a try now that you mention it.

And no, I'm an Argentinian who has been a couple times to the Land Of The Free™ and likes to cook stuff from all over the world.

Aside from advise above, I suggest searing/browning the meat first.
Then drain the fat and remove/set aside while you do veg/spices etc.
When everything is combined toss the meat back in.
I started cooking chili this way, with some chopped garlic and salt to make the meat sweat the excess water away. Then I saw most of the recipes threw the meat in after sautering the vegetables and kept this method from there on.

Corn chips on the bottom of a bowl, big scoop of chili, diced green onion, sharp cheddar if you like, and a blop of sour cream in case you were heavy handed with the hot peppers.
Ahh, excelent tips guys, keep 'em coming please!!!
 

slimshady

¡Mira, una ardilla!
OK, time to update. First of all, thanks again for all the suggestions. I've been testing some combinations of seasoning/cooking techniques, and I think I finally got a winner. Tried to source some of the classic American chili seasoning mixes, such as McCormick's, to no avail. Walmart used to stock McCormick and Casa Fiesta products but the Coronageddon stopped them flowing down here.

Tried to stay away of caned beans/stewed tomatoes etc to make the chili as easy to make as possible.

So far I've settled for this homemade seasoning/cooking combo:

Seasoning (for a chili pot):
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Chili (4-5 servings):
  • 1 pound of lean grounded beef
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • half pound of pinto beans
  • half pound of black beans
  • one big onion
  • one big green pepper
  • one can of whole tomatoes
  • one can of tomato puree
  • one cup (maybe more) water
  • two tablespoons of white or apple vinegar
  • half cup of beer
  • 5-6 jalapeño chilis, de-seeded and sliced.
The day before I plan to make the chili I wash and put the beans to hydrate for at least 24 hours. Then I wash them again and give them a quick boil, until tender but not to the point of breaking apart when you press them with your fingers.

For the chili, I start by heating a heavy iron pot with the oil in it. Then stomp the grounded beef as if it was a big burger patty in the bottom and let it roast over medium heat until it starts "bleeding" from the top. Then I add half the chili seasoning mix and start breaking the patty into smaller chunks.

Then I add the onion, jalapeños and green pepper, chopped into not-so-small bits. Once the onion gets transparent I add the beer to de-glass and lift the fat/flavor from the bottom of the pot.

Add the tomatoes, chopped into small pieces, and the tomato puree. Then, add the water, the vinegar and the beans, and 1/4 of the seasoning mix.

Adjust salt and pepper to taste, and let it simmer for about half an hour, or until the tomato is cooked.

I ended up serving it with the suggestions of @Nick , with some corn chips at the bottom and freshly chopped green onions on top.

Or, if feeling adventurous and with fusion vibes, with some cold fried ricotta cheese* on top, crowned by chopped rocoto chili peppers. Seriously guys, you need to try these. They are fruity, with a strong bite and best of it all, you can grow your own plants from their seeds in a small pot in your balcony! I've been growing mine on the backyard and they have become a cornerstone of my cuisine. I've found them online in the US here. Just be careful when handling them, as the sting likes to stay in your fingers for a VERY long time and it's easily transferred to eyes/mouth/nose. And believe me, you DON'T want that happening. @ALEXIS_DH will surely have a ton more information to add here, since rocoto peppers are Peruvian.

* It's basically the filling for an Italian burrata: heat olive oil in a pan, throw a couple bay leaves and some whole black pepper beans, coarse salt and then the ricotta cheese. Stir it in, and finish it with a good scoop of double cream. DO NOT mix it too much, you want the ricotta lumps to stay together, not to end up with cottage cheese ;-).
 
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