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Things to add to chili recipe?

I have been using a very simple chili recipe - ground beef, taco seasoning, onion powder, garlic powder, ground cumin, cheese, kidney and pinto beans, and salsa - and plan to make a pot this weekend.

I'd like to punch it up. What are some unique items I could add, and at what point in the cooking process should I add them?

I'm considering adding raw onion instead of onion powder, and maybe some chopped green pepper. Thought about some smoked paprika.

I'd love other suggestions, spices, whatever. Thanks!

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  1. Chop onion add to pot with some oil, mince some garlic add to pot, add 1 can of those diced green chillies, get some good chili powder ( I like Penzey's) add to pot, ;et it release their juices so to speak. Now add in your ground meat add brown with the other ing.. I like to use the diced tomatoes in juices and a can of tomato sauce. Now add a dash of cinnamon along with some tequila or beer. let this simmer for awhile, then add your beans. serve with chopped onions, cheese, and avacado. Hot sauce on the side of those who want it hotter.

    1 Reply
    1. re: JEN10

      I second the beer recommendation. I find that bottle of darkish slightly malty beer (e.g., Negra Modelo, Dos Equis amber) added to chili or to a spicy pot of beans contributes depth and little bit of sweetness to the broth.

    2. If you like it spicy, add chipotle or ancho chiles. One of our standby recipes is loosely based on this: http://find.myrecipes.com/recipes/rec... . We use about 1 lb ground turkey, 1 lb chorizo (brown and drain each separately), and 3 cans of pinto or black beans. Most of the rest of the ingredients are the same.

      1 Reply
      1. re: truman

        I concur with the suggestion for chipotle peppers. 2-4 peppers diced will do the trick nicely. A little of the adobo sauce from the can is also a nice flavor enhancement. Last time I made my chili I seeded the chipotles before dicing... to tone down the heat a bit, but the change was imperceptible. This is the only heat I add to the pot, but a helthy amount of chili powder is also added.

        I use a recipe from Cook's Illustrated with the title Texas Chili. It is AWESOME. It uses chunks of beef (I cut to ~1/2" cubes) rether than ground meat.

      2. A small amount of cornmeal or crushed corn chips for a little toasted corn flavor and some texture.

        1. Some grape jelly and cocoa powder. Adds just a hint of sweet. Especially good with chili powder.

          1. I've had good luck using Rotel spicy tomatoes. You can experiment with various degrees of heat until you get a combo that suits you. The smoked paprika sounds good but be careful with anything smoky. I've tried chipotlies before and you can get "over smoky" real fast.

            1. I've occasionally made "Hawaiian" chili (well, if you can call pizza Hawaiian, why not?), adding some pineapple chunks, and, maybe, barbecue sauce. It's good enough that a friend of mine, who was working for a canned chili company, tried to develop a recipe. Unfortunately, the combination wouldn't hold up under the cooking and canning process. Or so she told me!

              Oh -- both would go in after the cooking, which was the problem with doing it commercially.

              1. A bay leaf simmered in is good. I like to use canned fire-roasted tomatoes, black beans, and a can of kernel corn.

                1 Reply
                1. re: weezycom

                  I'm not crazy about beans so I also add corn to replace the beans.

                2. I'm for fresh diced hot peppers: jalapeno, serrano, habenero... Whichever you like.

                  1. Do you have access to a grinder? Any smoked meat (hock, turkey drumstick, etc) can be ground and added. You can also go in the herb direction with Oregano and something like Angostura Bitters. If you are adding cumin then fennel is an excellent ingredient. For a perfumed effect you can add kewra water, rose water and/or ground green cardamom seeds. A totally different effect can be had by adding a combination of cocoa, molasses and coffee.

                    1. I like to use coarse ground sirloin, cubed round steak and bulk chorizo, totaling 8-10 pounds in all. I cheat and use chili mix like Shelby's along with minced onion, garlic, green pepper and half a dozen serrano or jalapenos and a can of crushed tomatoes and maybe two cans of black beans. I mellow the heat a little by adding a pint of red wine and a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar

                      1. Just my opinions:
                        Start your pot with bacon. Render it. brown your meat, no need to over cook it. It is going to be stewed anyway. remove the meat and drippings, but save enough drippings in the pan for your onion to soften. when the onion is close, ad some fresh chile peppers. Not a chance I would use bell pepper too overpowering. If you don't want the chile pepper to be spicy, then deseed/devein them. I normally use a few jalapenos, and a few serranos. When the peppers start to soften, then spices - fresh garlic, dried cumin, dried ground anco chile, dried ground garlic, toasted onion powder, smoked paprika, dried ground chipotle, tiny dash of cinnamon. Then let the spices bloom for e few minutes. Stir it around into a paste, and then add in what your preferences might be. I do one reg can of black beens for every two to three lbs of meat (my meat is usually two lbs beef, one lb ground pork) and one of those big cans of crushed tomatoes. Fresh lime juice. Salt at the end, and stir in some cilatro near the end of the cook.

                        I would never, ever use a grocery store brand of "Chili Powder" or "Taco Seasoning." So incredibly wrong. You'd be completely amazed at how big a difference your food will taste if you use fresh spices in the measurements that YOU prefer as opposed to stale spices in the ratios that someone else prefers.

                        By the way, the bacon will add incredible richness. But everybody knew that.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: gordeaux

                          So you're saying you grow, smoke, cure and grind all your own spices rather than buy them from the store? My hat's off to you.

                            1. re: hohokam


                              I only replied that way as '?' was the telegram of some author inquiring how well his book was doing. His agent replied '!'

                              Cannot remember who it was though.

                        2. Stir in some creamy unsalted peanut butter right before you serve it. I promise you, you will not be disappointed.

                          1. I always add liquid smoke (just a little) and cilantro to my chili. And I'm on board with everyone else--lose the onion & garlic powder--saute some real onions & garlic.

                            1. Wow, thanks everybody. What great ideas. The fresh peppers (probably when my guests are OK with heat), the bacon, the fresh spices, the cinnamon, even the warning about using too much smoked paprika. It's all great advice.

                              Thanks! This is why this board is so great. I'm gonna try the bacon suggestion first, then work from there... maybe the corn chips idea, too.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: AndIDontMind

                                how about some corn kernals or cocoa powder (thinking mole)...

                              2. My newest addition is horseradish sauce. Just a spoonful makes the heat nice and full.