Whether you like your chili with ground beef, chunks of beef, turkey…no beef, with beans or without, there are a few helpful hints that will show you how to make chili even tastier than you thought possible. And believe it or not…they’re easy things to do.
So you want to know how to make chili taste even better than it already does? Well, good because I can help you with that.
The first thing you need to do is make sure that any veggies that you plan on using in your chili get cooked before you add them. That means those onions and garlic should get a good sauté on them. They don’t need to be caramelized, but they do need to be cooked until they’ve softened and turned translucent. This really brings out the flavor in them and gets rid of that raw bite that onions and garlic have. I even cook my tomatoes a bit before adding them to my chili recipe (if I’m not using fire roasted tomatoes).
Once you’ve cooked your veg, take them out of the pan and toss the meat in there. Now make sure you brown that meat up good. No one wants to eat chili that tastes like it came out of a steamer (which is what it will taste, and look like, if you don’t brown that meat before adding the rest of the ingredients to it). Browning the meat caramelizes the sugars in it and will give your chili a richer flavor. I usually use a 90/10 meat to fat mixture. If you use one with more fat, you may need to drain it while it’s cooking to help get a good brown on the meat.
How to make your chili taste even better? STOP using packaged chili seasoning mix! Make up your own. You’ve probably got all the same spices/seasonings as are listed on the back of that envelope – use them. One of my secret weapons, when making chili, is dehydrated peppers. I hate cooked fresh peppers, so I rehydrate guajillo peppers then puree them and add them to my chili. They not only give the chili a bit of heat, they also add a bit of a smoky flavor to the mix. You could use any dried peppers, or combination, that you like.
Speaking of spices…you’ll notice that my chili recipe calls for adding the spices pretty early into the chili making process. There’s a couple of reasons for that 1. It allows the seasonings to get a bit of a toast on them (this is like the cooking of the veg and browning of the meat…more flavor). 2. It lets the spices work their way into all of the ingredients instead of just kind of floating around in the mix (which is what happens when you add them near the end of cooking).
The last tip for how to make chili taste better is to make that chili early. Like make it a day or two before you want to eat it. That’s the best way to do it. Chili is one of those foods that just tastes better the longer it sits. But if you can’t do that, make it as early in the day as you can and don’t rush the cooking of it. Let it sit on the stove, with a lid on it, keeping warm and stir it occasionally. Trust me on this.
Now that you know the secrets for how to make chili tastier, what’s keeping you from making a great big pot of chili right now.
- 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- 1 Large Onion (diced)
- 1 Small Butternut Squash (peeled, seeded and diced)
- 3 Cloves Garlic (minced)
- 1 Pound Ground Beef
- 1 Pound Ground Pork
- 1½ Tablespoons Tomato Paste
- 4 Guajillo Chiles (rehydrated and pureed)*
- 2 Teaspoons Salt
- 1 Teaspoon Coriander
- 1 Teaspoon Paprika
- 1 Teaspoon Smoked Paprika
- ½ Teaspoon Cumin
- ½ Teaspoon Black Pepper
- 1 14 Ounce Can Pinto Beans
- 1 14 Ounce Can Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes
- 1 14 Ounce Can Pureed Tomatoes
- 1 14 Ounce Can Water
- Pour the oil into a large stock pot and heat over medium high heat.
- Once oil is hot, add the onion, squash and garlic to the pan. Cook until onion is translucent and squash has begun to brown. Then remove everything to a bowl and set aside.
- Add beef and pork to pan and cook until meat is cooked through and well browned. Drain any large accumulation of fat since this can keep the meat from browning. But don't pour the fat down your sink drain!
- Stir in the tomato paste and cook for a few minutes, until you notice the paste turning a darker color.
- Add the veg back into the pot with the meat.
- Pour the pureed chiles into the pot and stir in all of the seasonings. Give everything a good thorough stirring to make sure everything is well blended.
- Add the beans, tomatoes and water to the pot and give everything a good stir.
- Turn the heat to medium and cook chili for 1 hour.
- Remove from heat, let cool and store (covered) in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
- If serving same day you can remove from heat, cover and let sit until serving or turn heat to low and cover until serving. It just depends on when you plan to serve it.
- Serve with sour cream, shredded cheese, parsley, peppers, chips or whatever you like to serve with your chili.
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