Chili Considerations: What makes your family's chili recipe perfect?
It is full on chili season! It seems like everyone has a different take on chili, so we've compiled a few things to consider here. If you're looking to change up your recipe or try something different, take a look at some of the inspiring ideas below. Enjoy!
How to cook chili.
The first thing I consider when making chili is when do we want to eat it?
Chili tends to taste better when "aged" (by a few hours or a day, not years). When you give the chili time to slowly cook or sit overnight, the flavors really meld together and you wind having a richer dish to enjoy as opposed to eating it fresh off of the stove.
Of course, there's no problem with enjoying it fresh off of the stove for dinner, but you may find the leftovers to have a richer profile than the fresh batch.
For this reason, I like to make my chili in a slow cooker on low to cook throughout the entire day so that it's ready to eat for dinner that night. If you prefer to make it on the stove top, that works, too!
The classic questions.
Beans or no beans?
We have a divided household, so we heat the beans up on the side and let people add them in on their own. If everyone in your family loves them, dump them on in! Light and dark kidney beans are classic, but you could take a tex-mex twist on your chili and use black beans instead.
Noodles or no?
We tend to eat gluten free, so we skip the noodles, but we know plenty of people that throw them in. Just note that if you want to age your chili, the noodles may become mushy over time, so this method may be better enjoyed fresh from the stovetop or out of the slow cooker.
Ground round is a great candidate for chili because it's lean and flavorful, though ground beef works just as well, and ours doesn't need to be drained, because it's already pretty lean and the fat that does come off just helps saute the onions and peppers.
If you're looking for places to sneak liver into your diet, using our Power Grind Ground Beef to make your chili is the perfect place! The spices and flavors will hide any "liver" taste you might sense otherwise (though most customers report they don't experience any overpowering taste of liver in the ground beef).
Ground pork is another great option to pair with ground beef and make a double batch of chili.
Different versions of chili
Lean up your chili supper with ground turkey instead of classic ground beef. Still just as flavorful, but a little more lean.
White chicken chili
Another way to lean up your chili, but instead of using a tomato base, this soup is made with chicken, chicken (or turkey) broth, cannellini beans, green chiles, lime, cream cheese, corn, and warming spices like garlic, cumin, etc., for nourishing, creamy, warming midwinter meal.
Simple enough; leave out the meat. Be sure to add in some protein via black beans, kidney beans, etc., though.
Top secret chili seasonings
Cinnamon - I've never done it myself, but I know of others who claim a dash of cinnamon adds just a hint of warmth to your dish, without adding more spicy heat.
Cocoa Powder - A dash of unsweetened cocoa powder can help deepen the flavors of your chili and make it even more savory.
Hot Sauce - To really bring the heat, don't settle for just chili powder. Add your favorite hot sauce, too, for a next level smoky heat.
Brown Sugar - Tame down the heat with a balanced touch of sweet. A sprinkle or two of brown sugar can level out the heat and round out a bit of sweetness in your chili.
Popular Chili Toppings
Sour cream - the perfect cool and creamy to an acidic, spicy, tomato based chili dish.
Cheddar Cheese - We wouldn't be from Wisconsin if we didn't recommend topping your chili with lots of freshly shredded cheddar cheese!
Onion - Diced finely and fresh, can either be green, red, or white onion, to add a bit of freshness and bite to your chili.
Avocado - The natural creaminess and neutral flavor of avocado can mellow out the chili.
Lime - A touch of fresh lime juice can add some zing to your chili, if you like. May work best with a tex mex style or white chicken chili.
Hot sauce - For those who can't get enough of the heat....hot sauce away!
Jalapenos - Again, for those who can't get enough of the heat, top your bowl with bites of jalapeno and enjoy.
Tortilla Chips - What pairs better with hot and spicy than a crunchy, salty tortilla chip? Crush and serve on top, or use them to dip into your chili and enjoy each savory bite.
What about you? How do you and your family enjoy your chili? Let us know in the comments below!