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Special Chili Ingredient

Making an annual Super Bowl chili. Ive pretty much tried everything and while I dont need a full recipe Im wondering what unusual or "special" ingredient folks use in their chili that really makes it good. Ive heard things like coffee, chocolate, molasses, cinnamon, even pig blood (!). Any other recommendations people have? Also does anyone else use a different cut of meat then the standard "stew beef"?

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    1. vanilla extract (also 2nding the chocolate and cinnamon)

      1. My standard chili isn't too far from typical - turkey and chipotle with plenty of beans.

        1. I think most people over-complicate their chili. Thoroughly brown your beef in rendered beef fat, add garlic, cumin and oregano. Rehydrate a few different dried chiles (your choice) and throw them in the blender with some of the soaking liquid. Add this to your chili. Add some beef stock or beer. Simmer until the meat is really tender. Add a slurry of water, masa and a pinch of salt. Simmer until thickened and then adjust seasoning. You're done. This is one of those dishes best kept simple. It should taste like beef and chiles.

          9 Replies
          1. re: austinfood

            May I come over for dinner, please? That sounds ideal. Clearly I couldn't possibly agree more with austinfood. The "secret" to a truly great chili is to use high quality ingredients and relatively few of them.

            James Christinian's suggestion to check out these recipes from Terlingua International Chili Competition winners to see what they put in their's is a really good one. http://www.chili.org/recipes.html

            Like others on this thread, I prefer chuck roast though my preference is for very coarsely ground rather than cut into chunks.

            1. re: austinfood

              Sorry, not my type of chili, although I am sure good. I don't enjoy chili that way. Maybe just the way I grew up. I like alot of vegetables, beans and a depth of flavors with different spices. No offense ... different parts of the country have hundreds of different recipes.

              1. re: kchurchill5

                To each their own and all that; but, the implication that there wouldn't be serious depth of flavor in what austinfood writes about is off base. The chilis along with the cumin will provide significant depth and breadth of flavor for the dish.

                1. re: ccbweb

                  I always cook each layer slowly and add cumin too ... but understand the differences.

              2. re: austinfood

                I mostly agree here. That's a proper red beef chile. However, I include some rehydrated porcini or chinese black mushrooms (either will work) with the chiles. Not a lot, and not enough to be a clear flavor in the end product, but to my pallet it helps bring out the taste of the chiles.

                1. re: austinfood

                  That's pretty much my base recipe -- After I rehydrate the chile's, I whir them in an immersion blender, then sear and oven braise short ribs overnight in the chile liquid with some additional beer and seasonings. The long braise gives off a ton of meat juice, which adds a lot of beefy flavor. Next morning, separate beef from sauce. Refrigerate sauce. What i do differnent then most is I don't cube the beef - I use whole short ribs, then after the braise, I shred it. Finally, I add more ground chiles, Ketchup and some vinegar to give it more "pop."

                  1. re: austinfood

                    A-frickin'-men, classic is the best. I use chili grind beef, anchos and pasillas and definitely beer.

                    1. re: bushwickgirl

                      Neither of you mention onion or tomato? Gotta do onion. Not even a dab of tomato? Otherwise, I too don't see the need to add a lot of secret ingredients or things like Worcestershire. Beef stock is almost required. Use it and a pinch of sugar and save the beer for direct intake while cooking!

                      1. re: Scargod

                        I never use tomato. Otherwise mine is like a ragu. Really easy and real nice.

                  2. Red bell peppers. I saute them with the onions until they are really soft and browned. They kind of melt into the chili and add a sweetness to balance out the spicyness.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: cheesecake17

                      the freshest ingredients possible! I also like beer and achiote. Rehydrate dry chilis blend em and strain em for your base with some V -8 for a fast rendition.

                        1. re: bbqboy

                          V-8 works great for me. I also use this as a quick go to in tomato based soups, sauces and stews.

                          1. re: kchurchill5

                            Good way to use up leftover Bloody Mary mix too.

                            1. re: coll

                              Absolutely! Or better yet with some vodka, :)