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Any Chile Experts? I made my first batch this weekend and have some questions

The base was cubed beef and pork which was browned and then stewed for a couple of hours in a medley of juices and spices.

Not enough time... it was tasty but could have used more time for the flavors to meld and meats to break down a tad more. Much better the next day. I simply had to rush it out last minute for a party and bought all the goods that morning, with only a few hours to prep and cook. The meat was OK, but I thought the initial batch was a tiny bit dry - not melt in one's mouth.

That said, I'm now wondering:

- in an ideal world, would you marinade the meat for a day or more ? If so, dry or wet?

- brine it? I know pork gets a lot of pro-brine nods but beef?

- most recipes ask to brown the meat first, which is fine if it's dry, but it can get soggy/steamed if straight from a wet marinade. Any tips?

- Even if the browned meat gets a bit dried, does it matter if it's left in a wet slurry overnight? Mine went from tought stew meat to silky, fall apart the next day. Is this science or just cooking it longer?

- Most chile recipes are simple and similar. What have you seen/done to change the playing field? Asian spices? Adding another layer of flavor such as mushrooms?

Thanks, Jon

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  1. I make with brisket, which I pressure cook first. This way you can have the chili ready in an hour or so. The meat shreds up perfectly. As far as unusual flavors, some of the things I add are horseradish, cocoa and cinnamon,tequila and lime juice.

    1 Reply
    1. re: coll

      I make mine with either short ribs, brisket or beef chuck. Like Coll, I don't cube it first, and I don't want it in cubes in the finished product. I bascially braise the meat (after searing to brown) in the pureed chiles/seasonings overnight. Next morning, sauce goes into a jar in the fridge (after cold, skim fat off top, then cook again to reduce some), and I shred the meat by hand and store in a platic bag. At night, put it all back together to simmer.

      IMO, "shreddy" cuts of beef give chile more depth.

    2. I will not claim to be an expert, but will say that chili always seems better the next day. And we make all kinds of chili including all kinds off odd ingredients. DH even likes to add peanuts or pineapple on occasion. I like fresh cilantro in white chili. And he made a shark chili once that was awesome! (Yes, I know chili purists will say these concoctions aren't real chili. Semantics.)

      1. "Barefoot Contessa" Ina Garten, I think it's in her Parties (or is it called Entertaining?) book, has the most delicious recipe for a chile made with chicken, tons of red peppers and tomatoes. I've never liked those chicken/white bean chiles. This chicken chile is fantastic. Even my dad loves it and he hates everything.

        1 Reply
        1. re: JaneWinston

          Good to know, I don't like white chicken chili either.

        2. --- No

          --- No

          --- Yes.. Don't marinate it! --- If you insist...DRY the goop OFF before you attempt to brown.

          --- Yes..It helps a little --- Both -- Cooking the meat longer to render it tender is science.

          --- Personally, I don't try to re-invent the wheel. Asian spices, and/or mushrooms have no place in my chili pot. HTH

          Fun!

          1 Reply
          1. re: Uncle Bob

            I think I'm going to set a record for all responses on all the chili threads on Chowhound ever posted, by agreeing 100% with everything the previous poster wrote. And that has nothing to do with the fact that we're both Bobs. ;-)

          2. The biggest change I'll make to a chili recipe is I'll make Cincinnati chili.

            DT