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10 Tips for Cooking the Best Pot of Chili

Most chilis are highly personalized creations.  People work very had for many years to perfect their chili recipes.  Whether you're just beginning to create your chili, or you're just looking to tweak a favorite recipe, these tips can help you create your best pot of chili ever!

1.  If your chili is too thick, use broth to dilute it.

Chicken or beef broth works best for dilution of thick chili.  Using water will dilute the flavor of your chili too much.  A chicken or beef broth will add enough liquid but also the flavor of the chili will remain intact.

2.  If your chili is too thin, try adding tomato paste to thicken it.

Add the tomato paste in small amounts until the desired thickness is reached. If the tomato paste doesn't work, try a small amount of cornstarch or flour.  Some people even say a tablespoon or two of instant mashed potatoes work to thicken a chili.

3.  Use a combination of chiles.

Instead of using one type of chile, use a combination of chiles to bring out the just right flavor in your chili.  This one will take some work because you will definitely have to try a few different combinations to see which one works best for you.

4.  Cook meats first.

Brown ground meats before adding any liquids.  Brown chunks of meat on the outside before assembling your chili.  This will lock in the flavor of the meat.  This method is particularly important when using different types of meat for your chili.  By cooking your meats first, you will also cut down on the overall cooking time of your chili recipe.

5.  Use quality meats.

Chili was originally created to disguise the taste of cheaper cuts of meat and to tenderize really tough meats.  These days, you can still use the cheaper less tender cuts of meat to make your chili, but you will most definitely need to cook your chili creation much longer.  Why not try splitting the meat into half good quality meats and half cheaper cuts.  This way you could save a little money but still get the flavor of the higher quality meats.  Just make sure you cook the cheaper cuts more than the expensive meats to thoroughly tenderize them.

6.  Use fresh vegetables.

Don't use vegetables that have been in your refrigerator for a while, and don't use canned vegetables either.  Take the time to buy fresh chiles and other vegetables for your chili.  You will surely taste the difference.

7. Cook the chili the day before you plan to eat it.

Either cook your chili the day before or early in the morning of the day you're going to eat it.  By cooking the day before, letting it cool, then refrigerating overnight, you give all the flavors in your chili time to blend.  If you're short on time, preparing the chili in the morning and letting it simmer all day is a good method of cooking.

8. Use your own mix of spices, herbs and chiles rather than using a pre-packaged mix.

The pre-packaged mixes tend to use a great deal of salt and preservatives which can drastically alter the taste of a good pot of chili.  If you can, make your own pre-packaged bags of chili spices by mixing several batches and storing them in the freezer in well sealed freezer bags for up to 1 year.

9.  Don't use old spices to season your chili.

If you must use dried herbs and spices instead of fresh ones, then make sure they haven't been stored on your pantry shelf for longer than 1 year.  After this time, the herbs and spices tend to lose flavor.

10. Experiment and have fun!

Making chili is hard work but a great deal of fun also!  Why not invite a group of friends over to share your chili creation?  If you're still looking for ways to perfect you chili, then ask  them to offer suggestions.  Whatever you do, enjoy your chili and smile!

Written By Danna Vach