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Feb 7, 2012 07:16 PM

Crazy chili

Today I was in and out. In between times I cooked some leftover dried black beans in the PC, browned some chopped chuck roast, and slapped together a chili which cooked on simmer in the crock pot while Mr. Sueatmo and I were out. We came home, ate chili, and I went out again. My chili was made of available ingredients--nothing special. The chili was very good, not as thick as my regular chili, but very spicy.

I wonder what interesting, unusual, unexpected ingredients Hounds put in their chili. Whatever chili you make, brown or white, beans or not, meat or veg, is there an unusual ingredient that sets your chili dish apart? I'm interested; please share.

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  1. It may be commonplace to many folks, but the first time I added a slurry of masa harina, it was a revelation!

    10 Replies
    1. re: pine time

      I've used cornmeal to thicken the chili. Does that count? And sometimes I add frozen corn kernels.

      Never used masa harina, though. Interesting.

      1. re: sueatmo

        I've used in the distant past added corn meal and/or corn flour and I like the taste. I've also used corn kernels decades ago and liked it, but I think corn flour and corn meal used as a thickener gives a integral flavor -- and then why not also add a few kernels of corn :-))

        1. re: Rella

          I use toasted corn tortillas myself--but getting some kind of corn product in there definitely makes a huge difference.

          I don't know if I have any super "crazy" ingredients but I always add add a lot of Spanish smoked paprika, which I guess is a somewhat personal touch. I also use bacon fat for the browning and sauteing and add some unsweetened cocoa powder at the end (although that's not too original).

          Oh, and sometimes I make chili with bison meat, especially when I can't get any chili-suitable grass-fed cuts--it's really delicious AND sustainable! And I have at times added a dash of good, smoky scotch (when I have some on hand...)

          1. re: Lady_Tenar

            Smoked paprika is good. So is smoked serrano.

            1. re: Lady_Tenar

              I've actually used puleverized tortilla chips with pretty good results!

              1. re: Jason1

                I do that as well -- learned it from Alton Brown. Basically, whenever I have a bag of corn or tortilla chips that's down to inedible crumbs, I toss them into a Ziploc and store them in the freezer. Whenever I need some for thickening, I grind them down to dust in a spice/coffee grinder (not the one I use for coffee).

                Just be careful with the salt in your chili, as the chips are pretty heavily salted. I usually under-season (salt-wise) the chili until the chips are incorporated.

          2. re: pine time

            I've been making chili for years, but know what you mean. The masa harina slurry during the last 20-30 minutes not only thickens the chili, but rounds out the flavor of it.

            1. re: pine time

              You can also thicken with quick grits. Or refried beans...

            2. One of my chili recipes calls for sesame oil.

              1. Since I can't buy fresh Hatch chile peppers from Hatch, New Mexico, I keep in the freezer:

                Hatch Medium Red Chile Powder

                Hatch Extra Hot Red Chile Powder



                I use it in every batch of chile I've made for many, many years. But I don't make much chile. It is my go-to chile powder.

                My chile bean of choice is dark red kidney beans only because that is what I'm used to and like the taste of best.. It is difficult to find DARK red kidney beans anymore.

                But when I use dark red kidney beans I'd rather make rajma.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Rella

                  I use a combination of dried guajillo peppers (dark chocolatey aroma and color), New Mexican dried peppers (bright color), canned chipotles in adobo, dried arbol chiles(sparingly), and some green chile powder if I'm in the mood. While I enjoy more heat than most, my aim is to create a chili with layers of flavor. Onion and garlic, Mexican oregano and dried cilantro are a necessity. Sometimes I'll add ground coriander and even a little unsweetened chocolate if I add the chiles de arbol, to round off some of the piquancy. Beans and rice are separate. Rice is good as a base under the chili to soak up the extra sauce. Beans can be added from the side bowl if you need to feed some extra people and extend the food.

                2. I like bulgar in vegetarian chili.

                  1. We use Tomatillos as a base. They are Mexican green tomato's. NO red tomato. You might find them in a can but normally you can buy them fresh. Cut in half and cook really quickly in a toaster over. Then whip up in a blender/grinder.

                    We have to bring our chili for the last 6 years to New Years celebration(we were ordered). No questions asked! Cooked and delivered in a 10quart cast iron Dutch Over on the stove top.

                    If you want you may Google TFM from Fla who I got this recipe from.


                    12 Replies
                    1. re: supernc

                      Tomatillos are not tomatoes, not related, they just look like them. They are more like giant gooseberries.

                      1. re: wyogal

                        Taxonomy update on T-tillos and T-toes.

                        Related. Same family (Solanaceae). Different genera (Physalis, Solanum).


                        The reference to gooseberries is a good one. See wikis for Physalis / Gooseberry., also genus Ribes.

                        Both T's have a place in my various chilis.

                        1. re: FoodFuser

                          I love 'em. It may be heresy to some, but I put them in my green chili. I like the tartness they impart, and add to that whole "green" flavor.

                          (and quite frankly, if I have a bunch of green tomatoes, I use them in a similar fashion... shhhh...)

                          1. re: wyogal

                            Not heresy as far as I'm concerned, and according tp some of the "authentic" recipes.I've found. Glad you like them as much as I do.Yeahhj, they're goooood!

                            1. re: wyogal

                              Tomatillos are usually paired with fresh green chiles, and with 'white' meat (pork, poultry), while dried red chiles are used with beef and optional red tomato. Those aren't strict rules, but a common pattern. In Mexico pork can be cooked with a 'chile colorado' (red) sauce, or even a sauce that uses achiote for added red color. And in Colorado pork is cooked with green chiles (but not tomatillos) to make a meaty gravy that served on everything. While in New Mexico the red and green sauces are made almost exclusively with the corresponding chiles, without tomatillo, tomato, or meat.

                              1. re: paulj

                                Yes, which is why I used the word "heresy," because some people think that one should not use tomatillos in green chili. I know that different regions have different types of chili.

                                1. re: wyogal

                                  My motto is, rules were made to be broken!

                                  1. re: coll

                                    of course. I don't follow rules slavishly. Just a comment. Because if I came on this board and said I used tomatillos in my green chili, there would be at least one response telling me how stupid I am because everyone "knows" that authentic green chili is.... blah, blah, blah.
                                    So it was just a disclaimer.

                                    1. re: wyogal

                                      One person would say something, and 10 others would take note silently and incorporate it into their repertoire. At least that's what I like to think!

                                      1. re: coll

                                        Me too! And just who gets to make all these rules anyway?

                                        1. re: sueatmo

                                          Rules come about through decades, sometimes centuries of trial and error. They are the culinary repository of generations of cooking wisdom. They exist for a reason. And they don't exist simply to be broken wontonly.

                                          1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                            Except for the authenticity thing. Cooking, like the English language, changes repeatedly over time.