Wednesday, October 3, 2012


How to Start Making Chili

Happy National Chili Week, y'all. I didn't know that was a thing but then Sandra Lee keeps talking about it, so it must be for real.

Once upon a time, I knew a girl named Jen. Jen smoked Marlboros. One night she got a pack of cigs that had a little piece of paper attached to it. It was a call for entries to Marlboro's best chili recipe contest — or whatever it was officially called. Jen didn't even have a best chili recipe, but she went into her kitchen and just started throwing a bunch of stuff together, wrote it all down, and sent the recipe in. JEN WON THE GRAND PRIZE. She got a car and a home entertainment system and a grill and some other shit. I don't have her recipe, but maybe it's this one? This true story illustrates two points: 1) chili starts with pretty basic, shelf-stable ingredients that you might even have in your cupboards right now, and 2) there is no One True Chili Recipe. The next time you're hit with an emergency chili cookoff, start with the following elements, but then just go nuts. WARNING: This is not going to create fancy, fresh ingredients, farm-to-table chili; it'll just be delicious. Here's where to begin:

Canned stuff:
2 cans of some sort of tomatoes (Stewed and diced are my favorite combo.)
1 can of tomato sauce OR tomato soup
1 or 2 cans of some sort of beans (Chili beans already have spices! Think about it.)

at least 2 tablespoons of cumin
at least 2 tablespoons of chili powder
dashes of cayenne pepper to taste
some garlic powder
salt and pepper

Throw it all in a crock pot and call it a day. Or, you can add some more stuff.

Use discretion when measuring, mixing and matching the following:
Crushed red peppers
Fresh garlic
orange juice
Liquid smoke
Browned ground beef
Canned chilis
Adobo sauce
Onions or shallots
Bell peppers
Instant coffee, freals
A dollop of peanut butter
Cocoa powder
Worcestershire sauce
A beef boullion cube
Shredded chicken
Ground lamb!
Red wine

What else? (Besides toppings like shredded cheddar cheese and sour cream and avocaodos and chips.)


recipes, chili, soup, stew

173 Comments / Post A Comment


My mother uses ALL THE BEANS. Seriously, she makes hers vegetarian (not because she is vegetarian, but because she just likes her chili that way?) and it's just ALL THE VARIETIES OF BEANS IMAGINEABLE in a delicious chili base of deliciousness. It's typically a big hit at the Stone Mountain Chili Cookoff, which my parents have participated in for the last 5-6 years straight.

I do like it with stew meat in, though. I enjoy a good, meaty chili.


@Scandyhoovian My mom makes that same chili. It's just like 6 kinds of beans and it's amazing.


is amazing lol@l


Pumpkin and pumpkin pie spices.

Seriously. I have a recipe for pumpkin chili that will make people fistfight over the last bowl.


@TheMnemosyne AND?


@TheMnemosyne Which you're about to post here?


@TheMnemosyne Please?


@TheMnemosyne Purrrrty please?


@phipsi Here you go everyone! Enjoy! :D


3 lbs ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
1 can (15 oz) pumpkin
2 16-oz cans chili beans (hot)
2 bottles chili sauce
2 cans condensed tomato soup (do not add water)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon pepper
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon chili powder (NOTE: I use 2 teaspoons so that it's a little spicier.)
Water to adjust thickness, if desired (I usually put in 1/2 to 3/4 cup)

Brown ground beef and onion together. Drain. Add remaining ingredients, heat to boiling. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring somewhat frequently, for 1 hour. Serve with shredded Sharp cheddar if you want.

According to the recipe, this chili freezes well, but I have no personal experience to back that up, since it gets eaten so damn fast every time I make it. ;) Also this can be made in a (VERY LARGE) crockpot. Do not add the extra water if you are going this route, obvs.


@TheMnemosyne YES. This sounds delicious, I'm making it this weekend. Thanks!


@TheMnemosyne Thank you!

baked bean

@TheMnemosyne Dude that sounds amazing. I'm going to roughly follow that like I roughly follow every recipe, and I'm sure it will be AWESOME.

baked bean

@TheMnemosyne ....and I'm going to the store to get those things....

Jane Err

@TheMnemosyne WHOOPS I just put all the ingredients together in my crockpot and THEN checked the recipe. 2x the pumpkin. HOPE EVERYONE REALLY LIKES PUMPKIN.

Liz McClendon@twitter

Sweet potatoes! 100%. Also, it's not really chili without at least 1 type of beans.


@Liz McClendon@twitter You just pissed off every single person in Texas with that comment.

(I don't care one way or the other because chili is probably my least favorite food in the world.)

Ian Buckwalter@twitter

Oops! Found a typo...let me fix that for you.

"It's not really chili if it has any types of beans."

There you go. You're welcome.


@Liz McClendon@twitter SEE.


@Brunhilde I scrolled down in a hurry to chime in about this! Beans belong no where near my chili! Real TEXAS chili YEEHAW! It's stupid the things I get worked up about (I also generally hate all beans except black beans.)

fondue with cheddar

@Ian Buckwalter@twitter It's not really chili unless it contains beans AND beef!


Just remember, if you're going to get fancy and "toast" your spices before you add them to the pot, open a window or turn on your fan or whatever. Otherwise you might accidentally tear-gas yourself.

Not that this happened to me when I last made chili or anything.

Also I look forward to the imminent arrival of the affronted Texans to whom beans in chili is a mortal sin.


@anachronistique Ugh, Texas, yes: where putting vegetables in a food is practically a criminal offense.

I have to go to TX once a year (not Austin, where there's great food. West Texas) and I'm lucky to get an iceberg salad for roughage once in a while. The chili is fine, but kinda one note.


@anachronistique I'm a Texan and I don't even like chili, but I had to restrain myself from commenting about beans in the chili and I DON'T KNOW WHY. It's just ingrained in us, maybe subliminally over the PA in grade school or something...


@Lyssachelle Absolutely. My brother's irate screed was one published in Fine Cooking's letters to the editor section after the publication of a "Texas chili" that contained beans.

It's reflexive. The first thing I looked for in reading this article was whether beans were in it or not. Soon as I saw them, I stopped reading and headed immediately to the comments, where I was certain other Texans had weighed in.

That said, the aforementioned brother and I were once disqualified from a chili cook off in Texas because we made posole. Best damned posole you'd ever seen (and the judge said it was the best dish in the competition), but the presence of green chili and homeny was enough to render it "not chili" and therefore not a winner.

Chadwick Crawford

@anachronistique It's really just not chili with beans. It's more of a goulash. I appreciate that you prefer goulash, but the true animal is a very different thing. Also, no tomato. Never.

Chadwick Crawford

@parallel-lines Texans like all kinds of vegetables. Okra, squash, green beans, tomatoes, you name it. They just don't have a home in a chili pot.


@Chadwick Crawford For real, maybe that particular family hates vegetables? There is plenty of veggie eatin' in Texas(now, are many of these vegetables fried or cooked in bacon? Maybe.)


You can use TVP instead of ground beef. That makes a reasonable chili analogue. Or, if you want to eat chili that actually tastes good, you use some sort of steak or roast cut into small cubes instead of using ground beef, which is an abomination of meat. (Moreover, the purists will tell you that "real" chili contains neither tomatoes nor beans.)

This is my new username

@blueblazes ...but... what does go in it then, if not tomatoes an beans? I was uner the impression those were the basis of chili?


@This is my new username Meat and chilis. Some kind of liquid. I refer you to the Homesick Texan for further details.


@This is my new username - Hopes, acedia, dreams, sehnsucht, fancies, weltschmerz, whimsy, heart, grit (not grits), ennui, and a little bit of the freshest, grass fed free range saudade you can find (though lawry's 'bittersweet yearning' powder is a passable substitution if you're cooking your chili in like, a dorm room on a hot plate).

This is my new username

@anachronistique Huh. Interesting. Crazy Texans! That does not sound like chili I would enjoy at all.


@blueblazes Yeah my mom uses "smart ground" or whatever it's called and people honestly can't tell the difference. I mean, you kind of can, but if you are kind of oblivious (like my dad) you can't.


@blueblazes That link is so interesting. I did not know about Texan chili but it makes complete sense that cowboys did not have tomatoes and beans and what have you. I wonder what that chili tastes like... hmmm probably really spicy?

ugh I need to get a slow-cooker stat!


@rimy OK, so we had a chili cookoff at work recently. The majority of competitors made what I would call chili soup, which is not the same as real chili. They did the thing with the ground beef and stewed tomatoes and green peppers and a vegetable-based broth and probably chili mix packets from Walmart.

I made real chili. It contained cubed sirloin, caramelized diced onion, the best ground chilis from the "ethnic food" part of the grocery store, minced garlic, bacon grease and beer. That's all, folks.

And of course all of the chili soup people found it too spicy and unusual and nothing like mom used to make. It did not win. But at least I could feel smug an superior since I was the only person who actually made chili.


@blueblazes Congratulations. How wonderful.


@blueblazes Exactly the problem with all Yankee chilis! It's soupy, tomatos and beans and just too much liquid and not enough MEAT.I mean, it's fine if you like chili-esque soup but that's all it is.

Lily Rowan

I feel like I'm giving away the family secret, but: mustard.

I also use tomato paste to thicken.


@Lily Rowan tomato paste > tomato soup. I mean come on!

Lily Rowan

@parallel-lines I think using paste means you don't have to cook it down for a long time, but acknowledge that long-cooking probably makes a better product in the end. But who has time for that! (Or a crockpot.)


@Lily Rowan I thought everyone had a crockpot? You can get one for $20 or less (thrift stores are practically packed to the gills with them) and it's the ultimate lazy people food prep method: set it and forget it. I've got three (but I'm a weirdo and I use them for keeping food warm when we have guests over for dinners).

Lily Rowan

@parallel-lines Honestly, I don't have any where to put one. My soup caldron currently lives on a bookshelf in the living room section of my apartment.


@Lily Rowan Yes and yes to your ingredients and then also, very high quality sausage, which is browned and drained before cliff diving into the crockpot. And while I do love cubed beef I also will chow down on cubed venison or lamb. Trim all the deer fat and let the sausage do its work.

baked bean

@parallel-lines I dislike my chili to be ketchupy sweet, so tomato soup is OUT.
My grandma used to dump tons and tons of brown sugar in the chili, and we hated it. Because it was also not spicy at all. She'd get the packet of chili seasoning (you know, that's meant for a whole batch) and just sprinkle a little bit in there. It was old as dirt so it tasted like dirt, because we'd try to sprinkle some in our bowls and it'd not be spicy.
ANYWAY. I can handle a little sweet if there's some spicy to balance it.

*end of sweet chili rant


Two chili tips:

1. Brown all the vegetables first, right in the soup pot. When I make tempeh chili I brown that with the veggies, too. Make sure there are lots of little brown bits stuck to the bottom of the pot. Scrape them up when you add the tomatoes (the acid will help).

2. Add a tablespoon of vinegar to the pot just before serving, for brightness.


Canned beans get too mushy! Soak those dried beans and make chili LIKE YOU MEAN IT.

I can't eat chili in Texas because it's beanless and dude...I do not abide by that.

(I'm reading that list above and if someone put peas in my chili, our friendship would be over. Seriously. Dead to me. Peas! Also: chorizo belongs on that list.)


@parallel-lines Peas belong in nothing as far as I'm concerned so I am RIGHT WITH YOU.


@parallel-lines Why the hell would anyone ever,ever put peas in chili??


@parallel-lines I have a chili recipe from my friend that states as one ingredient:
"Pinto Beans (Depends on how many you want. Min 1 pound) If you put in can form you have just screwed up this entire recipe."

baked bean

@parallel-lines Call me weird, but I like my beans mushy. Mushier the better.


That story about your friend Jen is awesome.


BARBECUE SAUCE (the quality kind). I learned this working at a coffee shop in Chicago. It makes you go, "What is in this amazing chili?!," but somehow you just can't place it.


@sneakypete this is my secret too, but YOU JUST RUINED IT


May I suggest chipotles in adobo? If you like your chili spicy and a bit smoky.


@lisma If you are lazy and/or bad at reading labels, get the "chipotle salsa" that comes in a near-identical can. All the chopping, already done!


@lisma Chipotles in adobo are a really awesome thing to have around your house in general--I used them for an awesome crock pot pulled pork. And you can make an amazing shaved brussel sprout salad--mix a teaspoon of it with juice of 1.5 lemons, dijon mustard, maple syrup and olive oil. Garnish w/ dried cherries and toasted pecans. Add some shaved parm if you wanna go bananas. Super easy and delish.


@parallel-lines I agree! And last for a long time. My mouth is watering a bit now.


@lisma If you want to save your chipotles in adobo for a long time you can freeze individual peppers in an ice cube tray. Once they freeze you can add them to a ziplock bag and store in the freezer I do that then then just toss them into things that I think could use an extra kick.


@parallel-lines YES chipotles in adobo are a great addition to almost anything...my friend was making her signature bean dip (can refried beans + rotel) and I stirred in a little adobo sauce and it was like next level. I've never put it in a bloody mary but I bet that's delicious, too!

oh! valencia

Carrots, yes - shredded - and shredded zucchini - and quinoa! Quinoa is the base of my vegetarian chili, because 'round here, chili without ground beef in it needs to be specifically described as such. The quinoa replaces the meat, texture-wise.
Also chipotle peppers are a very nice addition.

But I don't put beans in mine because I don't like beans. IS THAT OKAY?!?

Stars and Garters

@oh! valencia You are not a good person.


@oh! valencia Wait so carrots and zucchinis and quinoa, but no meat and no beans. How does this even resemble chili in its final form? Sounds like a salad with enchilada sauce.


@christonacracker It has chili powder! really though it's more of a spicy soup. I usually don't even care about these semantics but, as mentioned above, something about chili get's my inner Texan really riled up.


@oh! valencia Beans, as any Texan will tell you, have no place in chili. No worries.

oh! valencia

@christonacracker well, it's cooked for a long time, so no, not like salad - and I didn't say it was ONLY zucchini and carrots and quinoa, those were just suggestions for add-ins.... it would also contain onions and peppers and tomatoes and chili spices, so yes, I guess it might be considered more like a really thick chili-flavored vegetable soup. FINE.
I also make meat chili but still with no beans. I suppose I belong in Texas.

dracula's ghost


apparently dried beans have a poison in them that boiling dissipates, and crockpots never actually boil, so if you put dry beans straight in there you'll get this poison and have unreal barfs for 24 hours. You won't die or anything but it will be terrible.

I learned this accidentally at the last possible moment before I would have been stricken! Random accidental googling!

If you simmer the dry beans for 10 minutes in a pot of water BEFORE dumping them in the crockpot you're good to go


@dracula's ghost I usually soak mine for 24 hours and rinse--is that sufficient? I don't wanna barfdie.


@parallel-lines I made baked beans in my crockpot once and just soaked overnight and rinsesd and did not have epic barfs, so I must have done something right?


@dracula's ghost Here's my dumb question: Does putting soaked but uncooked dried beans in the crock pot really work for chili? I always cook them first. Leaving aside the poison question, it just feels like they would take too long to cook, and suck too much moisture out of the other ingredients. And if it does work, do you have to cook the chili for a lot longer than when using already-cooked beans?

Jane Marie

@dracula's ghost my crockpot boils! it's the one pictured and it boils on high.


@dracula's ghost for years I (and everyone I know) have cooked dried beans just by throwing them in the crockpot, and none of us have ever gotten sick, so I'm inclined to take this with a grain of salt
ETA: Apparently it is only kidney beans that this is a problem with, and I never cook kidney beans


@dracula's ghost not saying just saying... for years i used to sample my dried beans as they were cooking (sometimes even post-soak to see if they soaked enough), and i'm impatient when it comes to food, so like, every 5 min i would have a spoon. then i found out it's apparently really dangerous? i stopped when i found out bean poisoning is a thing, but nothing bad ever happened so maybe i developed a tolerance.


@dracula's ghost Not all beans, though, right? Specifically kidney beans. So yes, don't do kidney beans if you are unsure. Other beans like pinto et al are fine, I AM PRETTY SURE. *Not a doctor*

baked bean

@Megano! Yeah I think soaking them overnight is what you're supposed to do if you put them in the crockpot vs. "quick soak." I have never crock-potted kidney beans though, just black beans.
I didn't know about the "poison" thing, but I do know that any way you cook them, overnight soaking makes them easier to digest.

hahahaha, ja.

I like my chili like I like my (wo)men: spicy and meaty with a chunky mouthfeel.

Das Rad

This is the chili recipe you've been looking for:


It's got cocoa powder, dark beer (hint: use Guinness), and coffee in it, and it happens to be the most delicious thing ever. Be sure to halve the brown sugar though (like everyone in the comments suggests.)


@Das Rad Wow, that one's not messing around.

fondue with cheddar

@Das Rad Wow, that sounds fantastic.


I just made chili over the weekend! Chunks of beef plus ground beef plus three cans of whatever beans are in the house plus a can of diced (or whole or whatever) tomatoes with juices plus beef broth plus chili powder and spices. Eat with corn chips. (Also tasty with cheese and raw chopped onion.) It's always good! And too much tomato throws off the balance of the whole thing.


I think I'm the only living soul who doesn't like chili.

For the record, the Mr. puts a shit-ton of Kale in his chili. He says it's the business, and I'll just take his word on that.


@yrouttasight There are at least two of us!


Mr. puts a shit-ton of Kale in his chili. He says it's the business, and I'll just take his word on that....ira

evil melis

I had no idea until today that my only dream is to win a Marlboro-sponsored chili cook-off.

Anna Jayne@twitter

I have been using Patti LaBelle's Too Good to Be Turkey Chili recipe for a WHILE (discovered via my friends at How Much Do We Love). It's standard/good, as beanless chili recipes go, and I usually modify it, but I just really enjoy that Patti LaBelle has a chili recipe.


@Anna Jayne@twitter I can't wait to brag that I use Patti LaBelle's chili recipe! Also, I usually make chili with turkey meat because it doesn't taste all that different to me to begin with (which might make me a bad Texan...but no beans, always no beans.)

sudden but inevitable betrayal

@Anna Jayne@twitter I once made Maya Angelou's shepherd's pie recipe! It was not my super favorite, but still! Maya Angelou has a shepherd's pie recipe!

Anna Jayne@twitter

@sudden but inevitable betrayal hahahahahaha

Anna Jayne@twitter

@sudden but inevitable betrayal this seems like as good an excuse as any to remind everyone about Maya Angelou's Prank Show


I hate beans in chili. But so it's a little less MEAT MEAT MEAT I often throw in mushrooms, zucchini, corn, etc. People really like my chili. And +1 to chipotle in adobo. Also beer. Also a touch of cinnamon.

Carrie Ann

@misskaz Yes to chipotle, beer, and especially cinnamon. I have one version where I throw a cinnamon stick in for the simmering portion and it adds so much warmth without any actual cinnamon flavor.


I made chicken white bean chili yesterday. Which is not something I consider to be real chili, but it is delicious.


Ahhh, yes. I'm running out of dinner ideas and I've never made chili before (?) so this is good.


@Decca seriously how do adults manage to feed themselves every day


@Decca I have a winter ritual of making a big pot of chili on a Sunday and then eating the leftovers throughout the week. Plus, if you get bored you can throw chili on top of other things like eggs and baked potatoes and mac and cheese! Mmm.


@Decca My mother's anxiety that I would starve to death in grad school is . . . less unfounded than I would like.

RK Fire

@supernintendochalmers: chili + mac and cheese = TOP SCORE


@Decca i have no idea, and i'd really like to know.


@Decca It's like shepherd's pie that got drunk, took off its clothes (the mash) and got frisky with the chili powder.

Thing I do not understand: why British people put their chili on rice as a matter of course. Esp if you are going to do something that weird you can put it on chips. As in British chips.

Further observation- Mexican oregano also is good.

fondue with cheddar

@supernintendochalmers Or you can mix it in with nacho cheese to make a yummy dip for tortilla chips!

Carrie Ann

The America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook has my favorite chili recipe - Slow Cooker Chili Con Carne. Look: it starts with 8 oz. of bacon. You just really cannot go wrong.

It's behind a paywall, so I can't link to it, but (if you're not vegetarian) you should all buy that book because it is just enormously useful. A lot of great recipes, but also just helpful information on substitutions, measurements, gadgets, etc.

If you do have it or find it, the two things I change about the recipe are: use half the amount of beef they suggest and use double the amount of tomatoes. It comes out more like beef with chili sauce if you don't do that. With half the amount, it's still tons of beef (2.5 lbs!), but is the usual stew-like consistency.


@Carrie Ann YES to America's Test Kitchen. The New Best Recipe, my ATK cookbook of choice, doesn't have any slow cooker recipes but it is amazing. In my household we call it The Book, like the Bible for a couple of atheist foodies.

I also liked how, when they wrote up their Texas-style chili recipe, they were basically like, "You people are full of shit, tomatoes in chili are awesome." Then they also had a typical non-Texas chili recipe, which is easier but still a good recipe. The chili I made last weekend took some cues from both of those recipes, and it was AMAZING. It had some dried anchos ground into powder, a fresh habanero, cocoa powder, shitloads of beans, and some coriander.

Corielle Hayley@facebook

I love using the diced tomatoes that are already chili flavored--simplifies things and they smell awesome.


I always add oregano to my chili. Because of the West Wing.


@cherrispryte I never watched The West Wing while it was on, but I'm working my way through it now, and just watched that episode today! That, plus this article, convinces me I should make some chili tonight.


Bulgar wheat. It gives a meatiness to meatless chilies.


@PrettyNicola Oh! Tell me more! I bought a little bag of bulgar wheat at the weekend on an impulse at the supermarket, but when I got home I realised I have no idea what to do with it.



Anyplace you might have thought to throw some ground meat, you can throw bulgar wheat (it's really good in tomato sauce over pasta, too).


@Decca I also use bulgar in my chili! Mix some amount of bulgar (1/2 cup? it gets pretty fluffy) with an equivalent amount of water, biol, then cover, lower the heat, and simmer until it looks good. Sometimes I use the liquid from diced tomatoes instead of water. Anyway, when it's done, add it to the rest of your chili ingredients and let it cook until delicious. I usually base my chili off of this recipe: http://low-cholesterol.food.com/recipe/moosewood-red-gold-black-and-green-chili-253517 but make sure to add way more spices. NO WAY is 1tsp of chili powder enough for an entire pot of chili.


@Decca I don't know if I agree completely with the assertion of using bulgur in place of ground beef all willy nilly, but I like making it as a pilaf. I saute aromatic stuff like cumin seeds, garlic, red pepper flakes, maybe celery and/or onion or shallots in a bit of olive at the bottom of a sautee pan, add bulgur to toast, add chicken broth bring to a boil then cover and turn to low for 12-15 minutes or so. I also usually through in some chiffonnaded kale and even some cashews too. When it's done maybe add a squoze of lemon or a splash of redwine vinegar. Makes a good side dish or if you also stir in some cooked sausage it's sort of a meal.


Y'all are yanks, you put some weird things in chili. For my part I definitely recommend cocoa powder and instant coffee in the chili. The bitterness helps round out the acidity from the tomatoes.

BUT, my super big secret for chili (and everything really) is smoked paprika. I learned that one at a chili cook-off at the Oklahoma State Fair and hoo boy does it work. I've also heard of adding crushed pineapple to it but haven't dared to try it yet.

This post is super timely though because my office is having a chili cook-off Friday and I need to whip up a batch of veggie chili tonight, so maybe I'll get some good suggestions.


@boysplz I put smoked paprika on evvvvverythingggg. Too many things, really.


@supernintendochalmers ALL OF THE THINGS. Mmmmm pimenton mmmmmm.


@boysplz i can't find good smoked paprika anywhere! i bought it once at some store 2hrs away, and now nothing i find compares :(


@catparty That's so sad! Maybe you can order some online for not too much.

I had some sitting in my pantry forever before I realized how awesome it was so I'd be super sad if I ran out now.


@catparty order some from penzeys! theirs is good.


@vvv ohh thanks for the recommendation! will try ordering some from them. i hope this doesn't turn into the slippery slope of not leaving the house to get groceries, as it has for everything else i have started buying online, haha.


@catparty I got mine at Trader Joe's, if that helps.


@boysplz YES! I made some last night and subbed in Hot paprika for half the chili powder and it turned out great. ALSO ALWAYS USE ONIONS! As melted as possible before you add the beans and tomatoes. Basically it was like making paprikash but it was chili.


@Amphora Hooray! I'm glad it worked out for you! I just made a batch of vegan chili using the bulgur wheat trick I read about upthread and it tastes awesome.

I hope it opens up some eyes at the company chili cook off on Friday. I doubt my vegan chili will win, because TEXAS. But I will show them that meatless chili can totally be flavorful.

Oh, squiggles

Made chili last weekend, am clearly a culinary psychic.



@Awesomely Nonfunctional mmm, pork rinds!

Oh, squiggles

@nina Yeah, I tried them and liked the crunch factor. Also, they work as crouton replacements for pretty much any kind of soup.


@Awesomely Nonfunctional Wait wait wait...what is smoked salt??

Oh, squiggles

@Amphora It's actually fairly magical stuff. I don't know how they do it, but they impart the smokey scent/flavor that grilled foods have into the salt. It is gray colored, and you just sprinkle it on foods like regular salt, but it adds the smoke flavor, which increases other savory flavors, and is easier that wood grilling everything. Because if I had the time/money/energy, I would woodgrill everything.

You can really get creative with the smoked salt. It would work in salty-sweet foods too, I think. I'm picturing brownies, with chili peppers for just a touch of heat, and smoked salt just sprinkled into the crust. Fiery, spicy, smokey, chocolaty brownies.


@Awesomely Nonfunctional Even more psychic- when you say... I am going to make chili this weekend the day before this article is published.


Instead of messing around with measuring spices, I just throw in a packet of taco seasoning and it's delish. I also use one can of the chili hot beans and one can of kidney beans for some variety.

Also: white bean chicken chili made with cannellini beans (if you can't find those, get great northerns) is great, and actually healthy if you don't add a bunch of cheese and sour cream (please add cheese and sour cream).


I usually use the McCormick chili mix, but one time I thought I would try a recipe for chili seasoning once, and it tasted exactly the same.
I also supplement the mix with:
garam masala
a little sugar
red pepper flakes

baked bean

@emthco Yeah I love it when people make chili not using that mix because that's how every chili tastes, and it's so special when it tastes unique.
Curry sounds like an awesome addition.


- For vegetarian chili, we often use 3+ types of beans, jalapeños, tomatoes, mushrooms, maybe Boca crumbles, I think spinach once?? but we'll have to try kale. (And onion, garlic, cumin, smoked paprika, various peppers, BEER, possibly cocoa and/or instant coffee, etc.)

- FISH CHILI, DO IT. White fish, white beans, tomato, all the normal stuff except for beef.

- Our biggest challenge is not OVER-peppering chili, as, to wit, the spice cabinet[s] contain: ancho powder, 'normal'(?) chili powder, generic red pepper flakes, aleppo pepper flakes, dried guajillo peppers, chipotle flakes, habanero flakes, cayenne, New Mexico powder..

- Thanks to a coworker, my 'secret' addition to nearly all non-vegetarian recipes is: FISH SAUCE. It deepens/salts/umamis the flavors, and I cannot live without it.

Also, I love peas, and add them to many things.. but not chili. Never chili.

RK Fire

@singstrix: Fish sauce is truly one of the best condiments in the world.


@singstrix @RK Fire I recently learned that this stuff called Golden Mountain Sauce is the vegetarian equivalent to fish sauce's wizardy, and man it's true.


@mustelid I shall look for this Golden Mountain voodoo next time I'm at an Asian market -- I've yet to find one particularly close to me. BUT! Last time I found an eensy hole-in-the-wall Asian grocery, I scored a BIG bottle of fish sauce, plus a bottle of mushroom-flavored (?) vegetarian (?) stir-fry sauce. And also two types of "soup base" that are like 800% of your daily sodium per tsp.


Golden Mountain Sauce is the vegetarian equivalent to fish sauce's wizardy, and man it's true..Flat Fee MLS Florida


So, I am sure many people will consider this sacrilege, but my husband and I won a chili cookoff one time, and I am going to tell you my secret.

For the meat, we did use ground beef (or some ground meat, whatever), but we also added an equal amount of ground chorizo. Just the cheap kind you can get in Walmart in the refrigerator section with the queso and tortillas.

We also added a little bit of cinnamon. The chorizo and the cinnamon... it's tough to describe what happened, but after simmering for hours, they made this entirely new smell/taste and it was WONDERFUL. Kind of sweet/smoky? I have dreams about it.

We also added a whole block of cream cheese to make it a creamy chili, but by now I've broken so many chili rules I can't tell you anything else. We did have lots of other beans/tomato product/spices. The whole thing was delicious and just different enough to really set us apart from all the other chilis in the competition.

oh! valencia

@Tiktaalik That sounds amazing.

baked bean

@Tiktaalik Dude the cream cheese isn't too much different than adding sour cream to your bowl, which is what I enjoy.


So you've got like

2 onions, diced
2 capsicum peppers (NOT GREENS), NOT diced, cut into thin strips, like strange disembodied ears
A bunch of garlic for crushing and adding
a pound of ground round
a pound of ground p(round)ork
3/4/5 habanero peppers (red preferred, obv), deseeded / demembrane'd and cut into strips
a 14 oz can of dark red kidney beans, all drained like.
a 14 oz can of diced tomatoes
a sum chili powder
a dash of cayenne pepper
some cinnamon, if you really want it
a square of baker's chocolate, grated just like cheese

Plus a bunch of orichetti or fusilli pastas, and when you're done you take a knob (that's a small dollop, not a glans) of buter and stir it up in the hot pasta to give it a sheen and a taste

You brown the meats, you put the meats in a crock pot. You take the peppers and the onions and the hot peppers and the chili / cayenne and you put them in a big microwave safe bowl and turn it on high for 5, stirring two or three times to get it mixed up. Then you dump all that in the crock pot. Then you add the canned elements. Then you turn on the crock pot on low for 6-8 hours or high for 4-5. Bout 20 minutes before that's done (or for 20 minutes after), you take yr grated chocolate and stir it in. Then you serve yr chili over the pasta.

Jane Marie

@Danzig! that sounds incredible.


@Danzig! Orichetti is my new favorite pasta. It looks like flying saucers! Also this looks like a great recipe, though I am too much of a wimp for habaneros.


@Jane Marie I'm making it today and I'm super psyched. I honed my craft over the Summer - you wouldn't think it but it's a good season for chili and stew, being as they both play well with crock pots and crock pots are effective without generating a lot of heat and turning your kitchen into a sauna. They're also, I think, approved for most dorms.

@anachronistique You can cut down on the habaneros if you want! Or use a sweeter pepper like a jalapeno. I've never tried substituting with straight chili powder but I'm sure it works. The fresh peppers just add a... lightness along with the spice.

And yes, orichetti is so good. Get good pasta! It really, really makes a difference. I got mine from the giant italian store off the N/R stop near... I forget where. It's called Eataly, but despite the punny name it's a good place.


@Danzig! OH GUYS you should also drain the grease from the meat after browning it, and if the moment seizes you, also skim fat from the top of the chili when it's done. Just a thought!

You should also, ideally, be cackling maniacally through this whole process.


@Danzig! OHHH ONE LAST THING I forgot the 2 tbsp of tomato paste, both in this printed recipe and in my cooking tonight. Throw it in with your beans and tomatoes!


@Danzig! The dudes in the zooarchaeology lab at my dept had collector's permits for road kill (to strip the carcasses and use the bones in experiments such as feeding them to dogs/ cutting with stone tools).

They made a lot of venison chili for events/cookoffs.




named after the highways where they'd picked the animal up.


why is this not the template for all recipe-writing ever?


Quick / easy / cheap as hell veg chili, which my mom makes. Minus cheese, it goes vegan:

1 onion, diced
1 bell pepper (GREEM perhaps), also diced
a couple of garlics, minced
a 14 oz can of kidney beans or black beans or whatever
1 14 oz can of yella corn, drained somewhat
a 28 oz can of diced tomatoes, or if yr feeling adventurous, peeled whole ones to break up yrself
about 2 tbsp chili powder
a dash of cayenne
3 cups of rice, it doesn't matter if it's brown or white
some cheese, a fistful or two (personally you can't go wrong with colby-jack, I'm team colby-jack)

Length of time here is determined by (a) altitude and (b) type of rice. Back in CO this dish would take 45 mins to make because I used brown rice which needs that kind of time but at sea level it takes half an hour. If yr using white rice for some ungodly reason then the whole thing is like 10 mins of cooking, minus prep time. I always go for brown, tho.

So you get yr rice cooking and tend after that. If yr going to brown town, you chill for about 20 minutes and then prepare all yr veges, then you take a dutch oven / big pot and put it on the range w/ some oil and cook the onion and peppers for a few on medium or medium-high, til the onion's become slightly translucent and the pepper's got a good color. Then you throw in the garlic and let that cook for a minute or two til the smell's all nice. At that point you can either dump in the powders or go for the tomato and THEN the powders, don't matter to me. But the powders and the tomato go in with the beans. You cook that for 5 minutes, let it boil, and then you throw in the corn. If you like yr chili sorta soupy then don't drain the corn, otherwise drain that shit. Let that go for another 5 mins.

Turn off that stove. You can either serve the chili over the rice when it's done and apply cheese as one likes, or do what I do and mix in the rice and the cheese into the whole fucking thing. It's good, and minus the powdered elements and the rice (which you should have in bulk anyway) it costs like $3-4 for a meal to feed an apartment for a night.

Since this one is simple and cheap, it can be multiplied for occasions and potlucks and the like. I know lots of folks who turn their noses at chilis that aren't cooked for hours but this one is always a hit.


@Danzig! Oh cheers, I think I'm going to try this at the weekend!


@Decca Godspeed!

gin twin

I make a slurry with a couple tablespoons of masa harina and beer, and use it to thicken. It adds a nice layer of flavor too.


@gin twin mmm slurry

for realsy

chocolate kisses! well, one hershey's kiss. also, sometimes, browned ground turkey instead of browned ground beef! Over cornbread! ...OK making chili tomorrow.

Springtime for Voldemort

I need recipes for green chili. The kind that goes on burritos, or combined with enough cheese to become chili con queso.

Springtime for Voldemort

I need recipes for green chili. The kind that goes on burritos, or combined with enough cheese to become chili con queso.


@Springtime for Voldemort (formerly papayalily) Use this green chile recipe to make your sauce. Feel free to add some chorizo or any kind of meat to add to your queso. If you don't add chorizo just add some spices (cumin, chili powder, garlic, paprika and onions) and you'll be set.


RIGHT! so! this is the part where I tell the world that my boyfriend's mother makes THE GREATEST CHILI (all-caps necessary) and it uses stew beef, cubed, instead of ground beef, which you brown and then cook down in Guinness. And then, you melt in a quarter cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips. The rest of it is pretty standard but oh sweet jesus it is good.

mademoiselle cait

Last chili I made was this one: http://www.food52.com/recipes/15871_tuxedo_chili
and it was fantastic.

baked bean

Dude, I have found that the (I get the knock off) Rotel tomatoes flavor that has cilantro and lime is a great addition to chili.

I like kidney beans. And ground beef. And I just throw spices in. Cinnamon is a great one to put in there. It is yum.

My mom puts canned enchilada sauce in hers.

Dr. Iris Puffybush

Dang, I was thinking about making chili this weekend, but then I decided on split pea soup. Now I'm hungry for chili (whine, whine).
My chili generally includes: any beans except kidney (usually black, pinto, garbanzo, and sometimes black eyed peas), ground turkey or chicken (or ground venison if I have it--venison is awesome in chili), SAUSAGE (brats, turkey sausage, standard breakfast sausage, almost any kind of sausage will work), various assorted tomato things, red peppers, green chilies, jalapenos, dried ancho peppers, chipotles if I have them, onion, garlic, and chili powder (I like no salt added stuff, the regular kinds have too much of salt). I throw the tomatoey things, peppers, onions, garlic, and seasoning in a crock pot for a couple of hours. Then I blend all of that with a stick blender to make a nice smooth base. Then I add the beans and cooked meat and continue cooking. It turns out super thick and I eat it with tortilla chips and sour cream. I think it's fantastic, but it did very poorly at a work chili cook-off a few years ago. The higher ranked types were of the Hormel and chili-soup varieties. Midwesterners love their chili-soup. I thought I hated chili for years, but what I really hated was my mom's (bless her heart) chili-soup. Oddly, the winning entry in that chili cook-off contained (among many other things) grilled chicken breast chunks and green olives. It seemed like a sacrilege, but it was delicious. Chili might be one of the most variable and subjective foods ever.


@Dr. Iris Puffybush Split Pea Soup! I love it! Have you ever tried using celery root in it? It gives that celery flavor and also thickens it. Supposedly it's how the Dutch make it, and I really like to add it when I make it every Winter or so.


The one I make most often is Five Ingredient Chili: onions, tomatoes, beans, meat, and chili powder, tweak at will.

But all these suggestions are totally inspiring.


My chili is basically ground turkey (browned), tomatoes (chopped), onions (chopped, browned), several serranos (minced), a fuckload of cumin, oregano, and chili powder, a couple cans of black & pinto beans, and ...some of any beers I happen to have around. Particularly good results come from mixing lots of different kinds of beers: Wexford Cream Ale + Lagunitas Brown Shugga + Cappuccino Stout, I think, were in the original "Eh, fuck it, throw it in" attempt, and oh god, it was so good.

Leftovers are really tasty over white rice and corn.

Oh, squiggles

The funny thing about chili is that everyone's version, with a secret ingredient or not, is good. Chili is pretty close to a no fail food.

fondue with cheddar

There's a recipe for Italian style chili on allrecipes.com that I really love, only I like to use more pepperoni than it calls for.

Slow cooker recipes are the best.


Is there any other food that inspires so much controversy about proper preparation as chili? I've seen arguments about lasagne and chowder but chili always seems to be the most controversial.

Jessica Kulp Forsythe@facebook

Fail safe: 1 lb ground turkey browned up in a pan with a chopped onion. 2 cans diced tomatoes with green chilis, one can pureed tomatoes. 3 cans beans - ANY KIND! season to taste with chili powder, cumin, garlic, salt and pepper. and for spice lovers add 2 tablespoons of ghost pepper salsa. crockpot, couple of hours... seriously its delicious!


woah... i just made chili tonight! my recipe (i'm a veg head, but my very carnivorous boyfriend still loves this and ate 2 bowls of it tonight):
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 onions, diced
1-2 carrots, diced
1 large (or 2 small) sweet potatos, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 medium yellow squash, diced
1 medium zucchini, diced
1 pkg sliced mushrooms
1 can corn
1 can black olives
1 (28 ounce) cans tomatoes, with liquid, diced
1 cup vegetable broth
1 (15 ounce) cans black beans ( ~1 1/2 cups cooked)
1 (15 ounce) cans red kidney beans ( ~1 1/2 cups cooked)
1 (15 ounce) cans white beans, of your choice (i use butter beans) ( ~1 1/2 cups cooked)
3 tablespoons chili powder
1 Tbsp cocoa powder
1 tablespoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne (optional)
salt and pepper, to taste

Heat the olive oil over medium heat. Saute onions, carrots, and sweet potatoes until almost tender, about 5-10 minutes. Add bell pepper, squash, zucchini, and shrooms- saute about another 5 minutes. Add seasonings (chili powder +) and stir until all the veggies are coated. Add corn, olives, tomatoes (with liquid), and broth; bring to boil. Add beans (drain them first), then cover and bring down to a simmer. Simmer about 30 minutes: serve with shredded cheddar cheese, crackers, cornbread, salsa-flavored sun chips (my favorite) or whatever your favorite toppings may be.


A little bit of white sugar and a cup of beer. Seriously.

Make Cuban style chili with black beans (the tiny kind), diced mangos and chicken. Serve on rice and top with cilantro and sour cream.


I'm surprised no one has mentioned putting chili over elbow noodles. It's a standard thing in Wisconsin (also: elbow noodles in tomato soup).


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TheMnemosyne WHOOPS I just put all the ingredients together in my crockpot and THEN checked the recipe.. Download PDF Ebooks

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