You’d think all chili would taste alike. All the traditional red chilies have tomatoes, some kind of chili powder and beef. Chili aficionados are appalled if you mention beans in the chili, but I personally like my chili with beans. Black beans, kidney beans and red beans — all of them….
So why do some chili’s taste like dishwater and some you want to lick the bowl? It’s the spices– they are not all created equal. Man traveled to the ends of the earth in search of spices and wars have been fought over spices. A good blend of spices can take your chili from average to yummy.
In playing with spices I have learned that I don’t like some of them, so what I like might not be what you like — experiment and TASTE what you are cooking. I had no idea I would like the flavor of a little Chipolte chili pepper added to my chili — it gave it a nice smokiness — a little goes a long way, as some of them can be very hot. I once made our local football coach cry as he ate the chili — all the while saying how much he liked it….I think it might have been a tiny bit hot even for a manly man.
I have purchased some spices in fancy spice stores — some I’ve liked a lot and some not so much — I’d say the biggest things you should consider — are they fresh (Have you had that can of chili powder in your cupboard since 1975) and are they a cheap off brand. Some of those are ok — but most have fillers and are not very flavorful.
Another tip that I picked up on all of those cooking shows I’ve become addicted to is to “bloom” the spices. This just simply means to cook them a bit before you add everything else — don’t just dump them all in. In my recipe I have some bacon — so after I’ve cooked the bacon — I add my spices and aromatic and cook them on med-low for about 5 to 10 minutes to really bring out the flavors. You just need to be careful not to burn them — and for heaven’s sake don’t stick your nose in the pot to smell them — it will knock you out!
I’ve posted my chili recipe that I used in a work chili contest. It was my first attempt at a Chili contest and I won! It is a pretty traditional chili — I’d say medium in heat — with lots of meat and beans. My theory is that there were mostly men voting so some heat and a hearty chili was a winner.
- 4 strips of bacon cut into ½" pieces
- 2 medium onions chopped fine
- 1 red bell pepper diced
- 6 medium cloves of garlic chopped
- 3 TBS short of ¼ cup chili powder
- 2 TBS Chipotle chili powder
- 1 TBS Hot chili powder
- 1 TBS ground cumin
- 2 tsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes (add more if you like more heat)
- ½ tsp cayenne pepper
- 2 to 4 cans of beans (I use a mix of black, red and kidney -- but whatever you have or like)
- 1 28 oz can of crushed Tomatoes-- crushed, diced, sauces, whatever you like -- I prefer crushed
- 1 28 oz can of Rotel Tomatoes -- Salsa jar or homemade works equally as well
- 1 46 oz can Tomato juice -- this is subjective on how thick you like your chili
- 2 lbs of ground beef 85% for the best flavor and texture
- Fry bacon med heat until crisp -- remove from pan
- Keep about 2 TBS of the bacon fat and saute your veggies until lightly browned about 5 minutes
- Add all of your spices and bloom them for about 5 to 10 minutes (bloom simply means to cook the spices I do it with the veggies stirring often to bring out their flavors) -- They can be strong so use your vent and/or fan.
- Increase the heat to med high add beef and brown with spices and veggies
- Add beans, cooked bacon and tomatoes
- Simmer 1 hour with lid
- Simmer another hour with lid off
- Season with salt and pepper as necessary
- Another fun trick is to use Bloody Mary Mix which I really like a lot in my chili — I used the Mild Tabasco brand — a whole bottle.
- Tomato juice to control the hotness of your chili if it too spicy for you.
- Any chance I get to use my own tomatoes in any form — fresh, frozen, canned, roasted I’m all over it….they will brighten your chili — sometimes I just grab anything I can find in my freezer or shelves.
Keep it simple and enjoy!