How To Make Champion Chili

How To Make Champion Chili

A good bowl of chili is a game changer; it can warm up your body and heat up your mouth. It can be the sustenance to keep you going on a crisp, cold night. It can bring the comfort of a full belly before a good night's sleep. It can be shared at a potluck with close friends. It can even serve as a dip to your chip while watching the big game. The season of chili is upon us: this time around, let's vow to make our chili the best it can be (with these six tips).

Chiles: Here's where you don't want to take a shortcut. Bring your chili to the next level by seeking out whole dried chiles to cook down in stock, and puree until smooth. All intense flavour, no grittiness. Which dried chiles work? Chipotle, guajillos, anchos, or pasillas will do.

Whether you prefer beef, pork or a mix of the two, the goal is to achieve a delicious browned flavour with a consistent, tender texture. To do this, instead of opting for ground meat, choose a chunky cut like stewing or short rib, sear it off in a frying pan, then chop it up.

Seasoning: The usual suspects like garlic, onion, cumin and cilantro still work, but here's where you can get creative. Toast whole spices yourself and then grind for higher quality. Experiment with a balance of spicy and sweet with ingredients like sweet corn or molasses. And to really step it up a notch, add an umami element such as soy sauce, anchovies, marmite, or stout beer.

There is some flexibility in the realm of beans. The choice to forego beans is still okay, and canned beans such as kidney or black can do the trick. Buying dried beans and soaking them yourself is still the best way, just remember to salt the water, so the skin doesn't break while simmering.

Patience: The best chili takes time, understanding and love. The flavours need time to mingle, and the meat, time to reach its optimal tenderness. Always taste test, and adjust spice, sweetness or salt as needed.

Garnishes: Do NOT leave out this step. A nice handful of grated aged cheddar, a dollop of sour cream, crispy chopped green onions or chives can perfectly complete your bowl. Think about what garnishes complement the spice level, flavour and texture of your chili. It's all about balance.

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