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How to Make Sensational Chili
How to Make Sensational Chili

Sweet and tangy or super-spicy, a warm bowl of chili can perk up any meal. Chili’s versatility makes it a great side for a variety of dishes, and you can season it based on what appeals most to your taste buds.

For a meal that’s famous enough to have its own national day, it’s surprisingly simple to prepare. If you fear bland, watery or just plain lackluster chili, all you need are a few tasty ingredients and some tips on how to put them all together. Follow this sensational chili recipe for a meal that's sure to please.

01

Dice an Onion

chili onions

Select a medium-sized yellow onion to create savory flavor and rich texture in your chili. Peel the onion and dice it with a sharp chef’s knife. Then, heat a small amount of olive oil in a large pot and add in the diced onion. Cook the onion on medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion softens and begins to brown.

02

Start Browning the Meat

ground beef for chili

Break one pound of 90-percent lean ground beef into large chunks and add it to the pan. Use a wooden spoon to break the chunks into smaller pieces to speed up the cooking process. Make the pieces as uniform as possible to ensure they cook evenly. Other possible meat options:

  • Swap out the ground beef for beef chuck for a more flavorful chili
  • Short ribs can also be substituted for the ground beef for a richer, heavier taste
  • Choose turkey as your meat source for a healthier, leaner option
03

Skim the Fat

Subsociety / Getty Images

As the meat cooks, the fat will release and fill the pot. Leaving all the fat in is a less healthy option and will give your chili a greasy texture. Wait until the meat has started to brown, then remove the pot from the heat and tip the pot carefully to one side to allow the fat to accumulate there. Use a large spoon to skim the fat from the surface of your meat and discard it. Carefully dab the meat with a paper towel to remove any excess. Leave in a small amount of fat in the pot for moisture and flavor.

04

Add the Garlic

adding garlic to ground beef

Garlic will blend with the savory taste of the onion and give your ground beef a nice flavor boost. Remove the first few layers of skin from four or five cloves of garlic, place them in a small bag and smash them with the heal of your hand or a mallet. Rub them between your fingers to break up the cloves. Take the cloves from the bag, remove the remaining layers of skin and thinly slice the garlic with a sharp chef’s knife. Gather the garlic slices together and mince them by chopping them repeatedly with your knife until the pieces are very fine. Add the minced garlic to the meat and onion, simmer on low heat and stir until well blended and aromatic.

05

Toss in Some Tomatoes

dice and add tomatoes to chili

Add substance to your chili with a can of tomato sauce. For more flavor and texture, dice up two medium-sized tomatoes along with the sauce and toss them in with your meat and other savory veggies. For a more acidic flavor, use crushed tomatoes as opposed to dicing them. Mix the tomatoes in thoroughly with the beef and other vegetables.

06

Season the Meat

add chili seasonings

Add your seasoning in just after the meat begins to brown and is drained to ensure the spices have plenty of time to infuse the beef. Basic chili-recipe seasonings include chili powder and cumin powder. Add two teaspoons of each. One teaspoon of sea salt and a half-teaspoon of ground pepper will add a pinch of flavor. Finally, pour in two tablespoons of granulated sugar to balance the more bitter elements of your chili. Mix the seasonings thoroughly into the chili mix.

07

Heat Things Up

add jalapenos to chili for heat

If you like your chili extra-spicy, add a half-teaspoon of cayenne powder. For even more heat, chop up two jalapeno peppers and add them to the mix. For five-alarm-style chili, drizzle in a little hot sauce. After you’re satisfied with the heat level of your meat, pour in a cup of beef broth and mix it all together over low heat.

08

Pour in Some Beans

kidney beans classic chili ingredient

Beans add body to your chili. Kidney beans are the traditional choice for this dish because they hold their shape well and won’t get stirred into mush during the cooking process. Kidney beans also mix well with standard chili spices. Add one 16-ounce can of beans and stir in until thoroughly blended.

09

Simmer Well

cooking chili Floortje / Getty Images

After all your ingredients are in, turn the heat up to high and bring the contents of the pot to a boil. Then, simmer your chili for twenty minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove your chili from the heat and let it sit for about ten minutes to thicken. Stir one more time to ensure the ingredients are well-mixed and serve.

10

Toss on Your Toppings

chili TheCrimsonMonkey / Getty Images

Chili works with a wide range of crunchy, savory and creamy toppings. Sprinkling on a hearty blanket of shredded cheddar adds rich texture. Dicing a green onion and settling it over your chili offers a satisfying crunch. You can also sprinkle some crushed oyster crackers over your bowl or spoon on a dollop of sour cream right before enjoying this famous, warm and rich comfort food.

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