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Thicker Chili

I want to make a big pot of chili for game day. I like my chili except it's on the watery side. How do I thicken it up?

Feel free to post your chili recipe and I am sure this has been posted a million times before :)

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  1. I just won my first Chili Cook Off, my only liquid is a mexican beer and 28 oz can of crushed tomatos. 4 lbs of meat (1/2 pork, 1/2 beef). I'm pretty sure I posted it recently - it really came out awesome - I impressed myself (which is tough)

    1. The easiest ways to thicken it would be to let it simmer for longer to drive off some of the water, or to add a thickener, such as constarch mixed with a little water. Cornstarch should be able to thicken without anything bad or off happening.

      As far as making chili, I do not have a recipe per se, but when I make it, I like to use whole dried chilis that I grind in my coffee grinder. I have also done this with cumin seeds. But do the cumin first, and then chilis. You can do a pile of cumin and waste some, because it hould be more than enough. Then do the chilis, which may pick up some of the cumin but that should be ok. I've found I underestimate the amount fo chilis I need to grind and go abck and do more.

      Also, I do not use ground meat. A bowl of red should have small chunks of unground meat. I buy the meat and dice it by hand.

      1. Get some masa harina and stir it into the chili at the end. It definitely gives it some body. I use less than 2 TBS mixed with water for about 4 lbs of beef. If you add too much your chili will get grainy.

        Other options I have heard about but never used are to remove the meat and reduce the "sauce" or to shred some pieces of meat and leave the rest whole (assuming you use chunks rather than ground beef).

        2 Replies
        1. re: ESNY

          Ditto on the masa harina. I would never put tomatoes in chili

          1. re: Candy

            Double Ditto and no tomatoes either

        2. Some folks use masa or a couple of corn tortillas chopped up uber fine. Some use cornstarch or flour mixed with a little water. Personally, I like to use a little masa harina(?sp).

          1. IMO the easiest way is to use less liquid to begin with. I think this is what lexpatti does.

            I use a can of beer and that's basically it for a large Le Creuset pot full. I also add some masa flour too. I, personally, wouldn't use cornstarch because I wouldn't want that "shiny" look it gives.

            I don't use tomatoes. I add unsweetened chocolate.

            3 Replies
            1. re: C. Hamster

              I use the unsweetened chocolate too. My meat is too chunks, 1/2 chucks, 1/2 ground. I think beans to absorb the liquid but I don't like many beans in my chili (very little) but late in the game maybe add some to absorb?

              1. re: C. Hamster

                Oooh, would love your recipe. I make a white chili because I'm allergic to tomatoes, but didn't think of chocolate. (And I love mole negro!) Thanks.

                1. re: Kishari

                  You can make red chili without tomatoes. Many competition recipes depend entirely on the chiles (powder or puree) for the color.


              2. Alton Brown used crushed tortilla chips for a soup or chili recipe; the chips melt into the liquid -- it works great and doesn't detract from flavor or texture.

                1. I'm chiming in with a vote for a slurry of masa harina, in about the last half hour of simmering. I just put a couple of scant tablespoons in my chili and it magically thickens and adds an additional layer of earthy flavor.

                  1. that said, it has to be a bean chili otherwise go with the masa harina suggestions

                    1. I use masa as a thickening agent but the nice surprise is that it imparts a wonderful rich flavor to my chili. I also cook it slow and long on top of the stove and I add cocoa powder at then end, when I add the masa. No bean allowed in my family's chili. The crushed tortilla chips sounds like a great idea.

                      1. i've used wondra or try mashing up some of the beans if there are beans in the chili

                        1. Try a slurry- cornstrach and water - Mix water and corn strach together 1 tbls cornstrach to 2 tbls water. Add to chili and let cook . It will thicken.

                          1. Masa Harina and/or a can of refried beans.

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