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Shortcuts to Chili Success

Written By
Danna Vach

Purists would never consider making chili from processed
ingredients. They cringe at the thought of using canned tomatoes or
bottled hot sauce. Anything short of doing everything from scratch
would be blasphemy. On the other hand, many experts say that using
convenience foods in chili is nothing to be ashamed about.

If everyone had the time to run around town to find the freshest
ingredients and the patience to hover over a hot range to get the
components ready for the start of the actual cooking process, it
wouldn’t be an issue. But since today’s supermarkets have an almost
infinite selection of items that can help the cook make great chili
faster and more easily, why not give it a try?

Major groceries’ produce sections always have a variety of
fresh-from-the-farm onions and peppers. For those who prefer to skip
the peeling, paring and the inevitable tears, there are sliced and
diced frozen onions and canned or jarred peppers.

For the cook who makes chili with beans, choosing to switch from dry
to canned can save considerable time and effort. The dry beans must
be soaked, sometimes as long as overnight. Then they must be cooked.
Canned beans come in lots of varieties – red, white,
black, kidney, pinto and more. And for anyone who is concerned that
beans might lose much of their nutritional value during the canning
process, the fact is that the loss is minimal.

Tomatoes – without them, would chili really be chili? A cook could
buy a few pounds of tomatoes and spend a day or two turning them
into sauce, paste and pieces to put into the chili pot. But when
canned tomatoes in various forms are so affordable and convenient,
why pay so much and bother with the mess?

The same rules apply to other ingredients like hot sauce, broth and
whatever you’re accustomed to throwing into the pot.

For the cook who decides to take some shortcuts, what is there to
lose? Hours of needless drudgery? The rewards are wonderful – less
fuss, more time to spend on other things.