Over the years I've come to learn that chili recipes are a very personal thing. And most people have some pretty strong opinions about how they make their chili — what exactly gets added, and what does not. I can't think of many other dishes that get people feeling so passionately.
There are, however, a few basic universal chili-making dos and don'ts. And with the Super Bowl right around the corner, there's no better time to check your chili-making IQ than right now.
1. Not browning the meat long enough.
No matter what type of meat, or what cut you're using, it needs to be browned first — always. Chili is not meant to be made with raw meat.
Follow this tip: Whether you're using cubes of meat, ground meat, or a combination of the two (my personal favorite!), the first order of business is to get a good sear on the meat. You'll be rewarded with a richer, more flavorful chili.
2. Using raw vegetables.
Vegetables like onions, peppers, and garlic have the potential to deepen your chili's flavor and add a bright freshness. Without cooking them, though, that potential will never be realized.
Follow this tip: After the meat is cooked (if you're using it), remove it from the pot, and get the veggies in there. Giving the onions, garlic, peppers, and other veggies a quick sauté will add even more flavor to the chili.
3. Seasoning at the end of cooking.
Herbs and spices are key to flavoring chili, but if you wait until the end of cooking to add them, you're missing out on a ton of flavor.
Follow this tip: Season early and season often! If you add seasoning early on, the flavors with mingle together and develop an even richer taste while the chili simmers.
4. Not cooking the chili long enough.
There are a lot of recipes for "quick weeknight chili," and they're good, but they're not exploding with richness and layers of flavor like a pot of chili that's been simmering for a couple hours. Great chili needs time to draw out the flavors from each ingredient and blend them together.
Follow this tip: For a great chili with deep, rich flavors, cook it low and slow. I like letting my chili simmer over low heat for about two hours.
5. Forgetting about the toppings.
A killer bowl of chili is not complete without toppings.
Follow this tip: Don't forget to finish off your chili with some of your favorite toppings! I love Greek yogurt, sliced scallions, grated cheddar, and of course, plenty of tortilla chips.
What are your best tips for making chili?
Cozy up with our favorite chili recipes!
(Image credits: Faith Durand)