It's National Chili Week: Top 5 Unusual Chili Ingredients

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jamiepatra
Kick off the first week of October with a bowl of chili.
Every region has its own rendition of chili. New Mexico has green chili (interesting), Cincinnati has spaghetti with chili (still don't understand) and Texas puts meat in its chili (definitely the best).

I always love classic chili with beef or sirloin (I'm a Texas girl, what can I say?), but sometimes I am up for a twist. Everyone has his own secret ingredients that make his chili something special. So, here's my top five list of unusual ingredients you should consider putting in your chili, in honor of National Chili Week.

5. Soda

A couple of years ago, I tried a chili with Coca-Cola and was surprised by how good the chili tasted. The fizzy drink brings an extra sweet element to the chili. I loved how the syrupy soda worked with the meat, vegetables and beans. Most chili recipes call for brown sugar in the stew, so the addition of a soda worked the same way.

You could also try Root Beer or Dr Pepper as alternate sodas to have the same effect.

4. Chocolate

Chocolate is an ingredient in Mexican mole sauce. I have stumbled upon a few recipes that call for an addition of chocolate to chili, and depending on the amount added, it can be a great secret ingredient. Combine the chocolate with a chipotle or other peppers to create a wonderful spicy-sweet blend.

Be sure not to add too much chocolate, or you will have a strange aftertaste you probably weren't looking forward to. A little bit of dark chocolate, or even unsweetened chocolate, is just enough to give your chili a rich depth of flavor.

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Photo courtesy of JaBB
Add red wine to your chili for additional depth of flavor.

3. Red Wine

Red wine is another ingredient in chili that will give it more depth and harmonize all of the other ingredients. I recommend using meat in your chili if you decide to use red wine. De-glaze the pot with red wine after you cook your meat so you can blend the two flavors together. That's a wonderful combination of two ingredients you can never go wrong with.

After you de-glaze the pot, you can use more red wine, usually two cups, to add to the overall liquid portion of the chili.

2. Venison

I absolutely love using wild game in chili. One of my professors makes the best venison chili I have ever had. On the last day of the fall semester last year, he brought his crock pot to cook the chili all day long. So, basically the entire building smelled of rich venison chili ... best day ever.

Venison is full of extra flavors you would never get from regular beef. It's rich, savory and delicious. Make it in a crock pot and you'll be a happy camper.

1. Beer

Adding alcohol to most foods almost always turns out great. You can de-glaze the pan, like with the red wine and you can use it to enhance the overall flavor of the dish, which is what beer does for chili.

Typical chili recipes don't include beer, but if you use a dark beer, like Stout, it will enhance the meat flavors, giving it a more renowned flavor.

Why just have beer with your chili, when you can cook them together?



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14 comments
Russell_France
Russell_France

@edibleornamenta I use beef skirt or brisket instead of mince and always slow cook. Chocolate adds a real depth of flavour and I mix chillis

brentjatko121863
brentjatko121863

Curry powder is a great addition to chili.  Cincy chili benefits from a dash of vinegar and a pinch of sugar.

SinceYouAsked
SinceYouAsked

That Cincinnati Chili that seems to confound so many is often made with cinnamon as the "secret" ingredient.  It is somewhat soupy, can be ordered over spaghetti, and the beans are served as an add-on (2-way, 3-way, 4-way). 

politics
politics

What the heck is "Soda?"  Is that anything like a coke?

Brazos
Brazos

Bean vs No Bean - Name ONE Texas chili competition that allows beans in the chili.  Thought so.  Surprisingly most of them will have a separate class for beans, but that's for another article.

I'm not saying you should or shouldn't but it's a no no in competition.  

MamaJuice
MamaJuice

As a Texan and a Tejana, I am tired of this debate.  Both are equally good!   There were many times my mama made chili WITH beans (pintos, thank you) and it was better than most of the "Texas" chili that was slopped into bowls and served to me in many a Texas town.  A little canela in chili is lovely.

Kylejack
Kylejack topcommenter

"I loved how the syrupy soda worked with the meat, vegetables and beans."

 

Speaking of unusual chili ingredients, beans?!

edibleornamenta
edibleornamenta

@Russell_France I would agree totally with beef skirt and brisket. I cut them into chunks/slices. Never tried chocolate but may do so soon

Smedley
Smedley

 @Kylejack I don't get why people always say beans don't belong in chili... I can't recall a chili in my life that didn't have beans.

Russell_France
Russell_France

@edibleornamenta the darker the better. Chorizo is also a good addition.

Kylejack
Kylejack topcommenter

 @Smedley There are many different kinds of chili, but Texas style chili does not have beans. I'm seizing in particular on the line: "I always love classic chili with beef or sirloin (I'm a Texas girl, what can I say?)"

FattyFatBastard
FattyFatBastard topcommenter

 @Kylejack  Exactly.  As soon as I saw "beans" I stopped reading.  Only amateurs would think beans go anywhere near chili.  This author needs to rethink everything she has ever written.

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