My chili is lacking in something. Not sure why. - Page 2 - Mothering Forums

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#31 of 60 Old 09-26-2010, 12:45 AM
 
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I do...

1/2 ground beef 1/2 ground turkey
A lot of beans, I like using kidney, white and red beans to add color (or black..I usually use 3 kinds of beans)
2-3 Bell peppers, if different colors are on sale I like red, yellow or orange ones
4 or so Jalapenos, seeded (or I use fresnos, serranos, or poblanoes I love chilis )
1 big onion
Beef broth
Tomatoes
Tomato sauce
Chili powder
Cumin
Paprika (smoked)
garlic
Pepper
oregano
cayenne
salt

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#32 of 60 Old 09-26-2010, 12:54 AM
 
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I would say that chili powder, black pepper, and salt would be all you need to give those ingredients depth. Also, are you seasoning the meat while browning/ cooking it? I always heavily season ground beef (or turkey) before using it in a dish, otherwise it can cause whatever it's in to be a bit bland.

But really, regardless of whether or not you have fresh chilies in your chili, I think that a nice fine powder is necessary to evenly disperse the flavor among all the elements of your chili. Also, as other people mentioned, salt really brings out all the flavors and makes the whole thing *pop*, IMO.

I've made "flat" tasting chili before too. In every case I either: didn't put enough chili powder, didn't put enough salt, or forgot to use tomato paste in addition to my diced tomatoes. Anyway, I hope you're able to figure out what it is your missing! It's so frustrating to make a meal and not have it turn out the way you're expecting.

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#33 of 60 Old 09-26-2010, 11:02 AM
 
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Originally Posted by cristeen View Post
The main component in every chili powder I've ever gotten is chiles. I don't get the spicy kind. Yes, it has the other spices listed also usually, but without the dried chiles, you're not going to have that smokey flavor. You can buy dried chiles, roast them and grind them yourself. You'll just have to experiment to find how much to add. I'd go for the big red/black dry ones myself (there are several varieties and they're called different things in different areas). Each one has it's own flavor.

As for the cayenne - my entire pot of chili only gets 1/4 tsp of cayenne (to 2 lbs of meat). Because otherwise all the sour cream/cheese in the fridge isn't going to mitigate the burn. Any flavor it adds is nominal.
Yes, what I was saying is the cayenne is a chile, and the powder of it is no different than say, ancho chile powder. It's just the most common chile powder on the shelf, also known as "red pepper" and what the red pepper flakes come from usually, but it can be too hot for some. We actually really like the flavor of it, but we eat a LOT of really spicy food and like the heat. It's just a difference of opinion because I don't think cayenne adds just nominal flavor. In fact, it's the main component in my berebere that I make for Dorowat and it really shines in that dish!

I think you've hit the nail on the head, though, about finding your own dry chiles that are your favorite and making the chile powder yourself... then making chili powder yourself. To me, paprika is more for color than flavor unless you use smoked paprika. Now THAT is a good addition to chili (soup or powder).
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#34 of 60 Old 09-26-2010, 11:04 AM
 
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I just wanted to add that, although I make my own now, for a while I REALLY liked the hot chili powder from Penzey's. This gives a really good flavor to chili soup (if you like it on the spicy side).
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#35 of 60 Old 09-26-2010, 01:24 PM
 
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I agree you need ground chili powder. The two I use are ground New Mexico chilis and also ancho chili powder. They don't have a lot of heat, but they give chili the flavor of, well, chili. I also add cumin, coriander, salt and pepper and the other ingredients you mentioned. Sometimes I like to add a little lime juice and sweet potatoes, for a caribbean take on chili.

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#36 of 60 Old 09-26-2010, 02:04 PM
 
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I haven't read all the replies, sorry if this is a repeat: But I just made a really good pot of chili yesterday and what worked as a great thickener is cornemal Masa flour-mix a little with water to make a slurry paste (about a quarter of a cup for a big pot) and it thickened it great. Didn't effect the flavor, either.

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#37 of 60 Old 09-26-2010, 02:57 PM
 
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Also make sure you have enough cumin in it. Cumin is a large component to the smell of chili, which affects the taste.

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#38 of 60 Old 09-26-2010, 03:14 PM
 
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Dried chili or chipotle and a bit of cocoa! yum. I find mine isn't as good unless it simmers at least a couple of hours for everything to blend. I also layer the spices - put some in the sauteeing veggies, some in the meat as it cooks, and then more in the pot when it's all mixed together. I also really like mushrooms in mine.

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#39 of 60 Old 09-27-2010, 03:30 PM
 
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I use an a**load of paprika as I tend not to make it hot because of the kiddo (we add heat later). The depth of the paprika seems to be good. If it's just for adults, then I would do chilli powder and paprika along with the other spices you mentioned. A tiny bit of cinnamon too.

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#40 of 60 Old 09-27-2010, 04:37 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by redvlagrl View Post
I use an a**load of paprika as I tend not to make it hot because of the kiddo (we add heat later). The depth of the paprika seems to be good. If it's just for adults, then I would do chilli powder and paprika along with the other spices you mentioned. A tiny bit of cinnamon too.
I can't do cinnamon. DD2 is allergic to it.

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#41 of 60 Old 09-27-2010, 08:53 PM
 
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I just grabbed my bag of Penzey's Medium Hot Chili Powder and the ingredients are:

sweet ancho chili pepper
cayenne red pepper
paprika
cumin
garlic
Mexican oregano

I have just recently made my first successful batch without using the chili powder. I grew tons of hot peppers this year and I smoked some. The fresh jalapenos and the chipotles along with garlic, salt, cumin, and oregano was enough for me. Of course, we enjoy spicy chili.

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#42 of 60 Old 09-27-2010, 11:48 PM
 
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I skimmed the other responses, and don't think either mustard or red wine were mentioned. I sometimes add one or both of them.
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#43 of 60 Old 10-05-2010, 01:52 PM
 
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I have some suggestions that haven't been mentioned yet in addition to some that have.

First- toast all of your spices in a dry pan on medium heat until they smell toasted. Set them aside and add them in layers, some with the veggies, some with meat, some in the big pot with everything.

Use some broth, I personally use beef glacé, but if you have food allergies you will need to make your own broth. If the chili is too thin, simmering it without a cover for a few hrs will do the job to cook it down.

Use some whole peppers, do not cut them up, just wash them and throw them in stem and all. we like pablano, Serrano, and jalapeño. Add them when you add the liquid and let them simmer for an hour. Then take them out. If you want you can squeeze their juices out and add it to the chili, it depends on how much heat you want. We use one whole pepper per lb of ground beef.

We also use a couple of bay leaves.

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#44 of 60 Old 10-07-2010, 06:04 AM
 
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Mine-

Charcoal grilled burger
Saute onions, pepperoni chunks, diced green peppers in a scant amount of oil.
I go pretty heavy onthe veggies.
TONS of garlic, salt, pepper, paprika, LOTS of cumin, parsely, oregeno, sage, chili powder or fresh chilis if I have them.
Plain tomato sauce, BBQ sauce, dash or 6 of worchester sauce, red kidney beans.
Think BBQ sauce is crucial for how we like ours.
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#45 of 60 Old 10-07-2010, 09:51 AM
 
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I agree with most of the previous suggestions, especially the one to saute your veggies and brown the meat before you add the tomatoes and liquid. It makes a world of difference.

I would also add any ONE of the following (just a splash should do):
Balsamic vinegar
Red wine
Coffee
Mustard
Chipotle (as a powder, or chop up a freshly-smoked pepper)

You might also just need more salt.

Good luck!
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#46 of 60 Old 10-07-2010, 09:04 PM
 
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I make my chili differently than the most. I just roast (in the oven) a ton of fresh chilis--several pounds--mostly poblanos, but also some jalapeños and serranos. Whatever, really. I deseed and deskin the roasted peppers and puree the flesh with a bit of water. I add that to the browned meat and onions, along with cumin and maybe some dried chili powder (like cayenne or chipotle, not mixes). When I'm feeling lazy I used ground meat, but on a good day I'll take a roast and chop it into little cubes.

Men, especially, love my chili.

I bet adding some pureed roasted chilis to your recipe would give you the depth of flavor you're looking for.
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#47 of 60 Old 10-08-2010, 03:35 AM
 
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noobmom, that sounds amazing. I'm going to try it! I bet that would go great with a venison roast chili.

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#48 of 60 Old 10-08-2010, 04:03 AM
 
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What jumps out at me is the lack of chili powder (my chili powder says ground chilies, no other spices mentioned). And how long do you simmer it?

Here's my recipe (handed down from my mom; now used by my dd):

1 pound ground beef (27-30% fat; I've tried lean ground beef and/or ground turkey but don't like the results)
1 onion, diced
1 can tomato juice
1 T garlic powder
1 T sugar
1 T paprika
1 T pepper
1 T chili powder
1 can kidney beans (the original recipe calls for chili beans but I like kidney beans better), drained and rinsed.

Brown ground beef and onion together. Skim off excess fat. Add Tomato juice and spices. Simmer up to 2 hours. Do not cover; it will decrease almost in half. Add beans. Simmer until beans are heated.

You can add the beans with the tomato juice and spices, if you want. I usually only add half the amount of spices. I don't like it too spicy. I use a cast iron dutch oven from start to finish. It also adds flavor. Serve with shredded sharp cheddar cheese, sour cream, corn bread, Fritos, etc. Tossed mixed greens salad on the side (I use ranch dressing; dh and Dylan have their salads without dressing).

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#49 of 60 Old 10-18-2010, 11:49 PM
 
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I think it is really important to simmer your chili for at least an hour, preferably two in order to get that really rich flavor. If it starts to stick to the bottom of the pan, add a little water...
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#50 of 60 Old 10-19-2010, 12:19 AM
 
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Salt. And chili powder. I too heard too much anti-salt and had to learn from DH, who is a fabulous cook.

Also if you are doing a crock pot, DH tells me the reason my stuff doesn't taste like his is that most vegetables should be added toward the end, otherwise all the flavor cooks out.

so like if you are going to leave it all day, don't put in peppers, onion, garlic, all that kind of stuff till you come home and then turn it up and leave it for 30 min. or so.

he tells me this is why my pot roast in the crock pot is not the way I think it should be, I have given up on that and done it in the oven...

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#51 of 60 Old 10-19-2010, 12:25 AM
 
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Maybe you need to see if your spices have gone stale due to age. Make sure everything you are using is fresh and your meat is a good meat/fat ratio (80/20 being the best IMO).

The other thing is .... how long are you cooking it and are you developing the flavors of the meat and veg?
These were the two things I was thinking also, that your spices might be too old or that perhaps you aren't simmering it long enough. When I my mom makes chili (I can't even do it justice, so I don't try) it's an all day thing. She starts it at like noon, but it's not ready to eat until like 6pm.


Oh, man I want some chili now!
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#52 of 60 Old 10-19-2010, 04:32 PM
 
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I add smoked paprika, a bit of cinnamon or allspice, honey to bring out more of the other flavors, not enough for it to be "sweet", toasted and ground coriander and fennel seeds, and Mexican oregano. Also a nice bit of lime juice at the end to wake it up.

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#53 of 60 Old 10-19-2010, 06:48 PM
 
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I like to add onion powder when my food has that lacking taste.

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#54 of 60 Old 10-19-2010, 11:30 PM
 
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Yes, what I was saying is the cayenne is a chile, and the powder of it is no different than say, ancho chile powder.

It's absolutely different from ancho and other chile powders. All chiles have different flavor profiles and vary wildly and widely in how they affect your chili.

Some are earthy, some mild, some sweet, some hot (some sharp, some warm), etc etc.

A good chili powder might blend several chile types.

Cayenne certainly does have a flavor, but it is not the bolder, rounder flavor that some of the other chiles like New Mexico and Anchos have.
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#55 of 60 Old 10-20-2010, 09:50 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by nicky85 View Post
I like to add onion powder when my food has that lacking taste.
Does your onion powder have an anti-caking agent added? I haven't found one that doesn't. My UC doesn't like the anti-caking stuff AT ALL.

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#56 of 60 Old 10-20-2010, 11:51 AM
 
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OP - I don't see beans listed in your ingredients, other than "sometimes" black beans.

When I make chili, I use 1 can of kidney beans and 1 can of chickpeas (19 oz. cans) to 1 lb. of ground beef. I know chickpeas are unconventional but I've done my best to replicate someone else's recipe that I love. Another thing I add that isn't in your list is celery, and I never put garlic in. I use canned diced tomatoes, not fresh. I'm not sure if my chili is very good, but I like it.

Maybe the depth of flavour that you feel is missing isn't because of the ingredients but it could be the simmer time? How long are you cooking it for? I like to make my chili and have it on low in the slow-cooker all day, or on the stovetop for at least an hour.

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#57 of 60 Old 10-20-2010, 12:08 PM
 
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we always use kidney or red beans and my husband adds a little brown sugar. mine always tasted thin too until he did that. just a little, too much will make it sweet. also i dont use tomato paste. just fresh tomatoes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Llyra View Post
It just doesn't taste as-- well, TASTY-- as other people's, and I don't know why. Here's what's in it:
ground beef
hot peppers
sweet peppers
onions
garlic
(sometimes sweet corn, black beans, or both)
cumin
coriander
cayenne powder
tomatoes
tomato paste

And it just tastes sort of THIN. Not the texture of it-- it's nice and thick. That's not it-- the taste is thin. Even if I add MORE of all the spices and seasonings, it still doesn't taste as full-bodied as I've had at other people's houses.

Is there some crucial ingredient I'm missing?

Would you be willing to share your chili recipe?

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#58 of 60 Old 10-21-2010, 09:50 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks, all. I'm getting a lot of great suggestions. Some of them, unfortunately, I can't use. My disease doesn't like sugar, so sugar and/or sugar-containing condiments like Worcestershire sauce or barbecue sauce are out of the question. And I have a limited ability to digest beans-- I seem to do okay with some kinds, in moderation, but other kinds drive my UC crazy. Black beans are the ones I do best with. And DD2 is allergic to cinnamon.

I think my simmer time is fine-- about two or three hours on the stove or in the oven. And my spices are new and fresh, so that's fine.

But here's what I've tried-- roasting the chiles before chopping them added a lot of flavor. Adding vinegar and/or wine really helped a lot. And DH found some smoked chipotle powder that is marvelous, and has no additives. We mostly dry our own peppers here-- I have a magnificent variety from my gardens and my CSA. But a little bit of the powdered packaged stuff seems to help.

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#59 of 60 Old 10-21-2010, 08:30 PM
 
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i didn't read through all the replies, so maybe someone already mentioned this, but do you add sea salt? that would boost your chili's flavor 100-fold.

also, some black pepper in the bowl after the chili had been dished up (adding black pepper to cooking food will turn it into a highly indigestible substance, i learned this through research for my dh's UC).

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#60 of 60 Old 10-21-2010, 08:46 PM
 
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if you're up for it, please try this technique (amounts or specific ingredients don't matter, it's the technique that's the key!):

1. saute 1 whole onion (chopped of course!) in 1/4 cup butter or olive oil until tender, but not soft

2. add other veggies and beans (not tomatoes though) and allow to cook until tender, but not soft

3. salt veggies/bean until they taste good on their own (very important!)

4. add spices and ground beef and cook until ground beef is done (personally, i would cook beef in a separate pan, then add to veggie mix)

5. add tomatoes and broth (beef, chicken or veggie is fine)

6. simmer on low until chili is reduced to desired consistency, add extra salt if necessary

follow this technique, and i promise your chili won't taste "thin"! what i learned from "the art of simple food" is that you want to highly flavor the fat (oil or butter), so when it disperses through the soup, chili, stew etc., you have that deep, delicious flavor in every bite, even if the bite is only broth or sauce.

something i've learned about food, is that the technique and preparation have the greatest affect on the end product. it's not so much what you put in your dish, but how it's put in there that makes it something tasty or just so-so. that's my approach anyway!

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