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Your best Chili

I don't want a chili that'll take hours & hours to make/prepare, but I want one that's yummy! I'm tired of the "brown the hamburger, toss in the spices, etc". The crock pot thread got my attention about making chili. Do you make yours stove top or crock pot? With ground beef or chuck roast? Do you use tons of chili's, or simple spices?

One catch: DH cannot do beans (medical issues), so we'll have to leave the beans out.

What's your BEST?

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  1. Chili is one of those dishes I kinda just throw together, so they're never exactly the same, however the staple ingredients don't change.

    I cook it in the slow cooker. I use salsa to build the flavour in my sauce. If I'm using meat I brown it with the onions and garlic before adding to the slow cooker. I always add a generous amount of smoked paprika to the mix.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Musie

      I think that's a good way to put it, the main ingredients don't change, but there are always minor tweaks and revisions you can make to any chili recipe to make it unique. My ex, his "secret" ingredient was whiskey. The chili I made a couple weeks ago, I use a heavy dash of cinnamon. I know those that use dark chocolate or corn. I've seen recipes that call for using a whole roasted chicken from the supermarkets and it cuts down on the cook time. I know these aren't "secret" ingredients, but I'd be curious to hear what the one thing people put in their chili that takes it over the top for them.

    2. If you know beans about chili, you know that chili has no beans

      3 Replies
      1. re: rjbh20

        That's fine by me. And I'm well aware that chili doesn't have beans, but I also know some people put them in there! I'm just wanting a tried & true chili. :)

        1. re: rjbh20

          "No beans in chili" is simply a regional definition. It's different no matter where you live. That's like saying barbecue is ONLY pork, or HAS to have bbq sauce slathered on it, or is ONLY sloow cooked.

          1. re: rjbh20

            Is it really necessary to rehash this stupid argument for the nine billionth time?

          2. http://www.rickbayless.com/recipe/vie...

            After it's in the bowl I dollop on some sour cream, chopped cilantro and a few dashes of tabasco. It's yummy.

            2 Replies
            1. re: jammy

              Thank you jammy! After Musie posted, I was wondering if anyone else out there makes chili!

              1. re: chloebell

                Not being judgmental *at all* chloe, but I think you're probably not getting more responses just because you said you don't want "hours and hours" recipes.

                Also---and maybe I'm the only jerk here---but there's something about secrecy that is bound up in the glory that is good chili. Normally talk of secret ingredients and techniques drives me up the wall, but with chili the personalization and mystery seem part of the magic.

            2. the recipe that I started with years ago was the SIlver Palettes "Chili for a Crowd" and while I haven't actually followed the recipe in years (I kind of improvise as I have been making it for close to 15 years) it is still one the most popular chili's I make.


              Their "Hells Kitchen Chili" is really good too thought more stew like with chunks of meat as opposed to ground.

              1. That Rick and Lanie recipe looks like a good, basic, non-fancy chili. The Silver Palate recipe doesn't even look like chili. Never seen a recipe of theirs that I've liked yet. Dill, basil, Dijon mustard, and Italian sausage? I don't think so.....

                I do like chili made with things like braised chuck cubes, toasted dried chiles, etc., but for a quicker chili fix, the Rick and Lanie one looks great.

                1. Best and quick don't really go together, do they?
                  But given those parameters, the Rick B. one seems lacking.
                  I like a bit of cumin myself.
                  Some rotel tomatoes, a cup or two of spicy tomato juice or Snap-E-Tom and a squirt of Hershey's dark chocolate syrup(or a square or two of dark chocolate) helps to liven things up and give some depth
                  to the finished product.
                  Agree about the masa harina.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: bbqboy

                    There was cumin in Rick and Lanie's.

                    Hershey's syrup isn't chocolate.

                    1. re: sandylc

                      You're right. I just read his anti chili powder phrase. Myself, I like a good chili powder, (Gebhardt's)so didn't notice the addition of cumin separately.
                      As far as the Hershey's, just a secret ingredient I learned from someone that goes along with the quick part. Didn't mean to offend the chili gods.
                      I also love William's seasoning packets, but that might be a KC/Midwest thing. My sister sends them to me here in Oregon.

                      1. re: bbqboy

                        I agree with their point about chili powder. I like to use ancho powder and cumin and garlic and onion and salt that I have put in the chili separately - it just turns out better for me.

                  2. I do Wick Fowler, substituting real onions and garlic for the dehydrated stuff. I cut a chunk of brisket into cubes a little under an inch, brown them in bacon fat, follow the basic package instructions and add a few glugs of bourbon.

                    1. I use chuck cubes, no beans ever! Forget the stove top, put it in the oven and you don't have to toil over it.

                      1. I won a vegetarian versus beef chili contest using a crockpot. I made sure I added flavor by roasting the peppers and onion. I also use a tablespoon or more of cocoa powder. When I'm not cooking vegetarian, I often cook some bacon first and use the drippings to cook the veg in, then add the crumbled bacon in at the end.

                        1. i do the saveur real texas version of chili - i go stove top, chuck roast, peppers and spices, and shredded corn tortillas at the end as a thickener that also adds so much flavor.

                          1 Reply
                          1. I've tried dozens and settled on Paul Prudhomme's Texas Red recipe. No beans, multiple types of chilis for high heat, warm heat, smokiness, and sweetness.


                            1 Reply
                            1. re: monkeyrotica

                              That looks wonderful but 1/2 a day sure ain't quick :)

                            2. Lately I use Penzey's chili con carne seasoning in a hamburg tomato based chili. I always cook the onions and meat in bacon fat too.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: Berheenia

                                I like Penzeys, but I have more fun making my own blend of chiles and spices. It helps that I live in a small town with a considerable Mexican population drawn here by the apple orchards, so good fresh and dry chiles are abundant. My mix differs from time to time, but as was said above, there are a lot of gradations of smoke, heat, sweetness and acridity to play with. Fresh squeezed lime at the end does nice things in red chilies as well as green.

                                1. re: PesachBenSchlomo

                                  I make my own blends, too, with dried chiles, etc. and they vary depending upon my mood. Bittersweet chocolate also goes in as well as a touch of dark brown sugar.

                              2. Hi,
                                I love Martha Stewarts recipe for Texas Style Chili , pot roast and dried chilis make the flavor incredible and NO BEANS, I can't tolerate much Beans either but it's become my favorite chili recipe

                                1. These threads always seem to devolve into a lot of yammering about beans/no beans and tomatoes/no tomatoes, with people on both sides insisting that their method was sent down by God inscribed on the back of the Ten Commanments. A lot of rubbish, I say.

                                  If you want good chili, use good spices and treat them right. Buy a variety of dried and fresh chiles -- maybe start with ancho, passila and guajillos. These should be easy to find in any Mexican market or large grocery store. You can also buy the anchos as ground chile.

                                  Experiment. See which combinations and flavors work for you. I like to brown a chopped onion in a cast iron skillet, adding some cumin and ancho powder during the last couple of minutes. I like to use tomatoes in mine, eithet fresh or canned, but try it both ways and see what you like. There are no real rules: you're cooking for your own taste, not to please judges or grumpy Texans. Make notes to remind you what you liked and what you didn't.

                                  The only hard and fast rule is to try different chiles. Use the dried ones for depth of flavor, then add minced fresh habaneros or serranos for heat, depending on taste.

                                  5 Replies
                                    1. re: JonParker

                                      There are 2 ways to use dried chiles -- grind them into a fresh powder or make a puree with them. You should dry them further if they're leathery -- a few minutes in a 300 degree oven will do. Watch carefully -- they will burn quickly. Alternately toast them in a dry cast iron skillet.

                                      I prefer puree. I strain but that's not necessary. The original version of chili used puree (see Frank X. Tolbert's "A Bowl of Red"), but authenticity aside, I think it gives a rounder and deeper flavor. Much like a simple Mexican mole adapted for the hardscrabble life in dry West Texas.

                                      1. re: carbonaraboy

                                        The original version of chili used Spanish conquistador, but let's not go there. I also puree, although with some chiles, like my personal favorite guajillo, don't really puree (or powder) very well. The ones I tend to reach for are the guajillos, pasillas, anchos, and the tiny moritas.

                                        One other rec I'd make, although we're getting way outside the weeknight dinner realm here, is to make your own beef broth for the cooking liquid. If you're not going to make your own broth then just use water. But the beef broth lends a richness of flavor that you won't get otherwise. Once every month or two I'll have a broth day where I spend the whole day making beef and chicken broth. I freeze it in muffin tins, then put the portions into a ziplock.

                                        I also use the dry roasting method for the chiles. It not only dries them completely but gives them a nice toasty flavor.

                                        1. re: carbonaraboy

                                          Ah, Cortez, what a killer...

                                          I agree with the homemade beef broth. If you don't have any, I think a better alternative than cartoned beef stock, especially for a stew like chili, is that pre-packaged demi-glace, the one in the small plastic containers sealed with aluminum foil. One container per 1 1/2-2qts of water, thereabouts.

                                          1. re: carbonaraboy

                                            "There are 2 ways to use dried chiles -- grind them into a fresh powder or make a puree with them."

                                            I guess there must be three ways. For any dish that's going to simmer for a long time, I just throw them in whole at the saute stage. Chili, for example, usually gets a dozen dried chiles (moritas, arbols, anchos, pasillas, guajillos etc.).

                                        2. Ground beef (or turkey), crushed tomatoes (3 or 4 cans), beans (red kidneys, pink kidneys, black beans, chick peas--can of each but can be omitted, chopped onion, chili powder, cumin, salt, and pepper go into the crock pot. Super easy. I put out bowls of chopped scallions, chopped cilantro, shredded cheddar, and sour cream as toppings. Yum!

                                          3 Replies
                                            1. re: MGZ

                                              No. I've learned over the years that I don't like the flavor of garlic in crock pot meals.

                                              1. re: Njchicaa

                                                Fair enough. I have never used a crockpot for anything, so I suppose I have no idea of the consequences.

                                          1. I remove the skins on a pack or two, depending on the amount I'm making, of mild italian sausage/s. Chop into pieces. Brown in olive oil with a few diced sweet onions. Pour in a bottle of chipotle sauce or salsa as mild or hot as you like. Pour in a can or two of V8 juice. Some red wine. A squeeze of anchovy paste and or clam juice. A hand full of whatever dried herbs are around. A can of black olives including the water. A couple of spoons of peanut butter. (secret ingredient). Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer. Thicken with tapioca flour or cornstarch to get the consistency you like. S&P to finish. Takes about an hour.
                                            I've made it this way many times changing the salsa or the chipotle sauce depending on what's in the house. The other ingredients I don't change.
                                            Not to brag but I have had people tell me it's the best chili they've ever had.
                                            I love garlic but it doesn't seem to work with the peanut butter so I leave it out.

                                            1. Chili takes planning, it isn't just thrown together. Sorry about the medical issues with beans, but beans DO NOT belong IN chili. If you use beef, get a roast of modest price and cut it up as if you were making stew. Ground beef is used in 'beaners' glop.

                                              As a chilihead, chilehead and chili snob, I suggest that you keep it simple. Besides the meat, get some quality chile powder, not supermarket chili powder. The former is produced by grinding dried ripe chiles, the latter is a combination of salt, cumin, Mediterranean oregano, and some nondescript weak red stuff.

                                              You don't need a truck load of ingredients. Meat, onion, garlic, ground cumin, Mexican oregano (a verbena that differs from the Mediterranean stuff) and chile powder will do the trick using beer as the liquid of choice. I suggest that if time is a problem, make a big batch and freeze most of it in serving sized containers. Recycled plastic prepared salad containers that one gets from supermarkets are good for freezing chili, and you will be participating in the 'GREEN MOVEMENT.'

                                              Texas has a history of pork production, but that is a little known fact. I use pork loin for my chili because it often goes on sale. My 25-year-old grandson recently taught me a trick that I have been using to make chili. I shred the chunks of meat after the chili is done.

                                              Buon appetito! (that's Italian rather than French or Spanish)