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Oct 17/13

6 Odd Chili Ingredients That Actually Work Posted by: Dan | 0 Comments

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It’s that time of year, when the temperature takes a nose dive, and you need a thick hearty meal that can stew on the stove all day while you drag out and sort through your winter clothes. So, may we talk about chili for a minute? People all over the world are putting strange ingredients in their pots of chili. I heard some people even put BEANS in there? That is crazy, y’all.

But once you’ve gotten the essentials — beef, tomato, spices — oh, the places you’ll go from there. And with chili competitors taking their concoctions so very seriously, it’s no wonder they’ve come up with some odd things to throw in the pot in the interest of winning. And the stakes (steaks?) are high. This guy from West Virginia won $25,000 for his pot of chili last year. That will buy him a lot of paprika.

That award-winning chili is more nuanced than your aunt’s views on religion, but we can all agree your traditional homemade variety is aching for a little more experimentation. So, the next time you whip up a batch, consider some of these odd ingredients.

6. Beer
Maybe this one isn’t all THAT odd. We’ve all put beer in our chili before, right? No? Well, we think it’s best to use dark beer — think a porter or a stout — for a richer flavor. This recipe from Epicurious suggests Sam Adams Cream Stout. Something about a dark beer complements the beef in the way a hoppy IPA might not. But, heck, if that’s all you’ve got on hand, go for it. It’s chili. It’ll all turn out in the end.

5. Chocolate
Sort of like dark beer, chocolate can add another layer of depth to your chili. We’re not talking about a Hershey’s bar, though, we mean straight cocoa powder. The effect is subtle and rich. Don’t worry about your dinner tasting like dessert. You could safely add about a tablespoon or more and the chocolate flavor will remain barely noticeable. Try this beanless recipe on for size.

4. Coffee
Don’t throw out the morning coffee that got cold. Toss it in a pot of chili to add another even more complexity. Or, if you don’t have coffee readily made, a few recipes call for a spoonful of espresso grounds. This award-winning recipe has for the former.

3. Pineapple
As someone who adores the flavor of pineapple on pizza, this seems like a great idea. After all, pizza and chili have tomatoes in common. How different could they be? This recipe has the added bonus of being named after country singer Kenny Rogers. It’s the Kenny Rogers Fire and Ice Chili and it calls for a 20-ounce can of pineapples in syrup. We gotta say, the thought of pairing a spicy jalapeno with the sweetness of pineapple sounds like a winner, especially if the chili is made with pork roast instead of beef. Nice work, Kenny Rogers. Nice work.

2. Prunes
Remember that award-winning chili recipe we mentioned earlier? The one with the prize big enough to buy a car? That recipe called for prunes. Rumor has it the prunes give a little smoothness to the chili. They offset the bitterness and add a “gloss” that helps the pros win competitions. The prunes are typically treated like a bay leaf, meant to sit in there for awhile, do their thing, and not be around for the final product.

1. Bourbon
So, around here, we’re pretty partial to bourbon. And this recipe for brown sugar and bourbon chili kind of blew our minds, even though it DOES have beans in it.

 

For further reading about chili, this site really seems to know its stuff. And now …. to the food lab!


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