m looking for a really great chili recipe.
November 23, 2005 12:40 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for a really great chili recipe. Something maybe a little unusual.

My in-laws and much of my wife's family is in town this week for thanksgiving. It has been decreed that there will be some sort of chili cookoff. I honestly don't think I've made chili since I was about 10, and I don't know where to start looking for a good recipe (and I don't have much time to cook-test).

I'm an accomplished cook and I have access to plenty of good food stores, etc, and I'm hoping to make something great and a little unusual. I'd love to see the chili recipes you guys like.
posted by RustyBrooks to Food & Drink (35 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Why not make them a beef madras and pass it of as chili?
posted by jon_kill at 12:47 PM on November 23, 2005

This one from Emeril is my personal favorite. Admittedly some people don't call it chili unless it's got meat...
posted by youcancallmeal at 12:53 PM on November 23, 2005

Recipe? There are recipes for chili? Just put stuff in a pot, if it doesn't taste right, put more of something.

PS - Cinnamon is a key ingredient.
posted by Pollomacho at 12:57 PM on November 23, 2005 [1 favorite]

I don't really use a recipe - I throw stuff in, taste, throw in a bit more of whatever I happen to think it's lacking, and repeat. Still, two tips:
First, cook it for a good long time - I usually go for well over an hour. Second, try adding a touch of cinnamon if you don't already. Too much and it tastes odd, but just enough and it gives it a nice twist.
Be careful though - either use a recipe that specifies it, or add just the tiniest amount and go through the whole tasting routine and top up in small amounts from there.
posted by edd at 1:03 PM on November 23, 2005

On posting: Pollomacho - great minds think alike!
posted by edd at 1:04 PM on November 23, 2005

My wife will be mad at me for giving away her secret, but if you're making veggie chili, you might consider adding pecans about 20 minutes before it's done cooking. They add nicely to the consistency and taste great.

Oh, and agreed on the cinnamon, but the amount to add is VERY small. If you have too much, cumin seems to balance it decently.
posted by JMOZ at 1:11 PM on November 23, 2005

This one is my favorite, except I'd advise a) using only 1 Tbsp (or less) cocoa and b) leaving out the corn altogether.

You can of course use meat rather than bulghur, if that's what floats your boat. ^_^
posted by Tuwa at 1:12 PM on November 23, 2005

I haven't tried this specific one, but putting semi-sweet chocolate in the chili ends up giving it a very unique and complex taste (in addition to the cinnamon already mentioned above).
posted by tuxster at 1:17 PM on November 23, 2005

look here for some good ideas..MetaChili

and totally agree about the cinnamon.
posted by ShawnString at 1:18 PM on November 23, 2005

Cube your beef, 3/4 to 1 inch cubes. Pre-brown with your powdered spices. Use fresh tomatoes, chilies, garlic, onions and green herbs. Use MSG. Use canned chicken broth rather than water. Fresh, quality ingredients matter more than the recipe. I would find several recipes for Texas style chili (it tends to do well in competition) and alter to your taste. I would avoid funky "secret" ingredients unless you are going to be able to try them out in advance.
posted by caddis at 1:21 PM on November 23, 2005

Mango is really great in chili.
posted by evariste at 1:22 PM on November 23, 2005

Edd, wow, that's just creepy! Your's was worded better though.

On the cinnamon, everyone is right on, add it a tiny touch at a time because too much is not so good.
posted by Pollomacho at 1:23 PM on November 23, 2005

Some purists may object that it's not really chili, but I'm a fan of White Chicken Chili, typically featuring chicken, northern beans, white corn, and no tomatoes, so that it stays a light color. Visually it can really stand out against all the red you're likely to see at the cookoff. And it tastes good, too. I don't have a specific recipe to recommend, but you can find plenty.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 1:24 PM on November 23, 2005

Oh, and if the contest is a taste test, the secret is to throw health consciousness out the window. Humans respond positively to fats and sugars. If you do stuff like brown the meat in butter and use fatty chicken stock following caddis's tips, you'll be a winner for sure!
posted by Pollomacho at 1:26 PM on November 23, 2005

Use canela (Mexican cinnamon), rather than the hard-stick kind, and yes -- just a tiny bit.
posted by trip and a half at 1:47 PM on November 23, 2005

My old roommate, an avid chef and obsessed fan of Alton Brown, used to make Pressure Cooker Chili every now and then. I don't know if he followed this exact recipe, but something like it. It was damn good, and a unique preparation technique.
posted by autojack at 1:51 PM on November 23, 2005

Oh, and another old roommate used to make an amazing chicken chili that involved beer. I think he added one can of light-colored beer to the pot. Corona, Bud, Miller, something like that. Gave it a really nice tang.

As you can see, I myself have never cooked chili :-)
posted by autojack at 1:53 PM on November 23, 2005

What with all the chocolate & cinnamon suggestions, it's clear y'all are tryin' to talk about Cinncinati Chili, which comes in several well-known commercial variants, each of which has it's passionate adherents in the Queen City. Personally, I'm a Gold Star man, and for a fine time, I used to order a plate of 4 way and 2 coneys to go, take 'em to the river on a nice spring day, and wash it all down with a couple of Little Kings. One of life's best simple pleasures.

This is a pretty good make at home version.
posted by paulsc at 1:53 PM on November 23, 2005

Ours is linked on the MetaChili AskMe post.
posted by terrapin at 1:56 PM on November 23, 2005

Recently I was turned on to the wonders of butternut squash in chili. I cube the squash, cook it in some olive oil, maybe adding some curry powder, and then I add it to a standard chili mix sometime during the simmer phase. Also, I've found that cinnammon in the main vat is a great addition (as it is to any tomato-based mix.)
posted by headlessagnew at 1:58 PM on November 23, 2005

What caddis said. Everybody who eats chili made with cubed beef loves it, especially if they are used to the ground-meat versions. It's even better to make it a day ahead and let it sit overnight.

Navaho Chili often uses lamb - or tough, cheap and stinky mutton - instead of beef. Lovely stuff.

I've also made old fashioned historical Texas-style chilis without tomato, and since then I find I only add a couple of chopped fresh tomatoes instead of any tomato pastes or sauces the flavor of the dried chilies really comes out. If you live near a Mexican grocery, buy the dried chilis anchos or mild poblanos, soak 'em, blenderize them with some stock, and use that instead of powder. Mexican oregano and cumin are easily available. Adding a bit of chocolate sounds like it wouldn't hurt authenticity much - heck, I thionk I'll try that in my next batch of Red.
posted by zaelic at 2:04 PM on November 23, 2005

This is what my old roommate gave me when I asked for her recipe for the world's greatest vegetarian chili:

allspice, cumin, oregano, cilantro, a variety of beans, a bit of cider or white vinegar, a bit of brown sugar, beer-the idea is to balance btw spicy(chili powder, salsa, cumin, other herbs) a bit of sweet (the sugar, and I also use carrots), tomatoey, and that acidic kick, (beer/vinegar)

Just combine all these things and cook until it's perfect.

I have major problems with chili, because I can't digest beans, but I'd make myself sick every time she cooked this stuff up because it was so good.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 2:32 PM on November 23, 2005

Second the chocolate. Add a few squares of a good bitter-sweet (70% cocoa) right before the end.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 2:35 PM on November 23, 2005

Just to add to the cinnamon theme, the best chili I ever tasted (it was at a Cincinnati chili festival) had cinnamon schnapps and black beans. I have tried to duplicate it, but never quite made it.
posted by Otis at 2:48 PM on November 23, 2005

I have major problems with chili, because I can't digest beans

Beans? Chili doesn't have beans! Oh, the blasphemy!
[Actually, I like chili with beans because I like vegetarian, white and chicken chilis where beans often add proteins and flavor. However, in a competition beef is king, usually, and Texas chili doesn't use beans, it's meat baby, meat.]

Listen to zaelic on the spices and chilis. It will make a difference.
posted by caddis at 2:53 PM on November 23, 2005

My secret ingredient is some dried pineapple, chopped very fine. It will add a tang and sweetness to it, and people will not be able to put their *finger* on the taste, but they will like it.
posted by Danf at 3:00 PM on November 23, 2005

This one's a little different, and DELICIOUS.

Chipotle Beef Chili With Lime Crema

3 pounds ground beef
3 cups chopped onions
6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2 cup chili powder
2 14 1/2-ounce cans beef broth
1 cup canned crushed tomatoes with added puree
1/2 cup stout or dark beer(usually Young's Double Chocolate Stout)
2 tablespoons minced canned chipotle chilies

2 tablespoons yellow cornmeal
2 15 1/2-ounce cans black beans, drained, rinsed

1 1/2 cups sour cream
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon grated lime peel

Corn tortilla chips

Heat heavy large pot over high heat. Add beef; sauté until cooked through, breaking up meat with spoon, about 8 minutes. Transfer to large bowl. Add onions and garlic to same pot. Sauté until onions are tender, 8 minutes. Add chili powder. Sauté until fragrant, 3 minutes. Add beef, broth, tomatoes, stout and chilies. Cover partially; simmer until chili is thick, stirring often, about 1 hour 10 minutes.

Gradually stir cornmeal into chili. Stir in beans. Simmer until heated through. Season generously with salt and pepper. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill. Rewarm over medium heat.)

Whisk sour cream, lime juice and lime peel in small bowl. Season with salt.

Spoon chili into bowls. Spoon lime crema atop chili. Serve with chips.
posted by padraigin at 3:57 PM on November 23, 2005 [1 favorite]

All the suggestions of adding cinnamon, cocoa, chocolate -- it's all just dancing around the obvious: You'll be making ¡Chili Mmmm(ole)!
But man, padraigin, your recipe is making my mouth water!
posted by rob511 at 4:06 PM on November 23, 2005

Chipotle & Green Chiles Chili is my masterpiece that gets raves from all my friends. The "secret" ingredients are simply 1 finely chopped chipotle in adobo (add only a 1/4 tsp of the sauce otherwise it will overpower the whole pot), 1 small can of green chiles (they're mild but wonderfully tasty, and stand up surprisingly well against the chipotle), and a 1/2 tsp of cocoa powder (unsweetened). The rest is just typical chili ingredients.

When possible use fresh ingredients, but unfortunately I live somewhere without easy access to good fresh produce. I did make some last week though with fresh poblanos, and it was awfully good.

The other key is to serve the chilli spooned over hot fresh cornbread...mmmmm.
posted by gatorae at 4:10 PM on November 23, 2005

This is on the spicier side and makes a huge amount.

3 lbs. ground beef
2 med. onions, sliced
1 tbs. vegetable oil
3-4 tbs. chili powder
1/4 tsp. Tabasco sauce
3 (14-16oz.) cans pinto and/or kidney beans
2 small green peppers, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
3 (14-16oz.) cans peeled tomatoes
2 tsp. ground cumin
1 cp. water

Cook beef, peppers, onions, & garlic in oil in a dutch oven or large pot until beef is lightly browned. Add all other ingredients except beans. Cover & simmer 45 mins. Stir in undrained beans. Cover & simmer another 25 mins. Serve with grated cheese on top.
posted by joseph_elmhurst at 6:19 PM on November 23, 2005 [1 favorite]

Danf, I'm definately going to try your pineapple suggestion the next time I make chili.

Mmmm... And we're getting into the perfect time of year for it, too.

Anyway here's my 2 cents. The base is my mom's chili recipe (vegetarian), what follows are ingredients to add (with experimentation. I kind of wing it every time) for variation.

1 Onion
A few (3ish) cloves of garlic, pressed/minced
1 green pepper chopped
Heat olive oil in a large sauce pan, sautee the onion, garlic and green pepper until soft.
1 28oz can of crushed tomatoes (or same amount of fresh ones, of course)
1/2 tsp ground correander
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp allspice
2 tsp orregano
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 (minimum) tbsp chili powder
2tbsp ground cummin
1 can beans (I prefer black beans)
Salt and black pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients and set your crockpot to high (or med/low if you're doing this on the stovetop)

Try adding the following ingredients (seperatly or in whatever combination you think sounds good) for some variation:

Consider adding a little (3 tbsp) blackstrap molasses, or maple syrup for some added sweetness.

If you're not vegetarian, throw some lightly pre-cooked bacon in, too. Similarly, you could cook some beef or pork product (or at least parboil it) and then add it to your chili base.

For fun extra spice, add Sriracha hot chili sauce. It's feirce and flavorful.

Zest some lemon peel (maybe about a tablespoon) and squeeze about 1/4ths lemon worth of juice into the chili for some tang (ala Danf's suggestion).

Serving Suggestion: Over some white rice and with the babyback ribs that you've been cooking for 6 hours, too. (If you ever need a rib recipe, just email me. I've got a killer.)

Good luck. Mmmm. I love chili!
posted by Jon-o at 7:04 PM on November 23, 2005


I can't believe that I almost forgot...


Pour a little beer into your chili while it's cooking. Not too good of a beer, though, and not too crappy, either. Something that'll taste like beer without attracting too much attention. I use Yuengling Lager.
posted by Jon-o at 7:14 PM on November 23, 2005

Sorry, forgot: The recipe above serves 4 starving people.
posted by Jon-o at 7:16 PM on November 23, 2005

This recipe has seen me and my guests happily through many a Super Bowl.

Jalapeño Chorizo Chili

Despite all those jalapeños and chorizo, this chili is not super-hot – though it does develop a nice, spicy heat after the first few bites. Serves 10-12.

2 pounds ground beef/turkey
1 pound chorizo sausage
2-1/2 pounds plum tomatoes, chopped
2 large onions, chopped
2 green bell peppers, chopped
2 red bell peppers, chopped
12 jalapeño peppers, seeded and minced (leave seeds in one)
12 cloves garlic, chopped finely
3 28-ounce cans crushed tomatoes
2 28-ounce cans red kidney beans (drained and rinsed)
1 can black olives, sliced
12 ounces beer
1 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 small can tomato paste
2 limes, juiced
1/4 cup olive oil
6 tablespoons chili powder
3 tablespoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried basil
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
1 teaspoon fennel seeds

1. Place a large heavy skillet over medium heat and sauté the chorizo until browned. Remove excess oil and set aside.

2. Heat the olive oil in a large soup kettle or stockpot. Add the onions and garlic, and cook until wilted – about five minutes.

3. Crumble in the ground beef/turkey. Cook, stirring frequently to break up the pieces, until the meat is well browned.

4. Add the chorizo, bell peppers and jalapeño peppers. Cook, stirring frequently, until the peppers are slightly wilted – about ten minutes.

5. Stir in the canned tomatoes, beer, parsley, tomato paste and all the herbs and spices.

6. Cook slowly, stirring frequently, an additional ten minutes. Add the beans and stir to mix.

7. Cook about ten minutes. Add the fresh tomatoes, lime juice and olives, and simmer uncovered for an hour or more.*

8. Serve with sliced green onions, sour cream, shredded cheddar cheese, diced onions, oyster crackers, elbow macaroni, cooked rice, additional hot sauces, and Tagamet® HB.

* If making a day ahead, only cook chili about 15-20 minutes. The next day, simmer uncovered to evaporate moisture. Correct spices if needed.
posted by CMichaelCook at 11:40 AM on November 24, 2005 [1 favorite]

Try this recipe. Very spicy (if you want it to be).
posted by FeldBum at 7:27 PM on December 1, 2005

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