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

My chili is lacking in something. Not sure why.

Llyra's Avatar Llyra (TS)
06:06 PM Liked: 175
#1 of 60
09-24-2010 | Posts: 9,388
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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?
Arduinna's Avatar Arduinna
06:11 PM Liked: 169
#2 of 60
09-24-2010 | Posts: 31,187
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I use blended chili powder along with the other spices you listed
cristeen's Avatar cristeen
06:11 PM Liked: 148
#3 of 60
09-24-2010 | Posts: 14,677
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No chili powder? W/O chili, i imagine it wouldnt taste quite right.
Magelet's Avatar Magelet
06:26 PM Liked: 12
#4 of 60
09-24-2010 | Posts: 2,697
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we use chili powder as well.

also, I presume your using salt, but ya know, just have to check that you are useing enough. beans take a lot of salt to taste great. Also, adding a little red wine vinegar.
Mackenzie's Avatar Mackenzie
06:29 PM Liked: 19
#5 of 60
09-24-2010 | Posts: 2,572
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cristeen View Post
No chili powder? W/O chili, i imagine it wouldnt taste quite right.
Yup...
nettlesoup's Avatar nettlesoup
06:36 PM Liked: 46
#6 of 60
09-24-2010 | Posts: 1,362
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How about some paprika, and I usually add some worcestershire sauce for a little extra flavour.
lotus.blossom's Avatar lotus.blossom
07:01 PM Liked: 11
#7 of 60
09-24-2010 | Posts: 4,396
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yup, chili powder! I also looooove chipotle powder. A little goes a long way!

I add peanut butter sometimes and mustard others. Gives a sweetness or savoriness.

I make mine really thick so I don't add a lot of liquid. Just a big can of diced tomatoes, no paste or sauce.....

And it always tastes better the next day so make it ahead!
kallyn's Avatar kallyn
07:31 PM Liked: 14
#8 of 60
09-24-2010 | Posts: 1,508
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I can think of a few things.

First, try sauteing your veggies in some kind of fat before you add any meat or liquids. Once they've cooked a little, add in your spices. Like others mentioned, you might want to add some chili powder - at least 2 heaping tablespoons per pound of meat. Oregano is good too. Saute the veggies and spices together until they look good. Then add in the meat. By the time it's browned you should have some brown stuff on the bottom of your pot. Add in a good splash of red wine and scrape up all the brown stuff. This will give you tons of extra flavor/body! Only at this point should you add the tomatoes/beans/liquids and then make sure it simmers for at least 45 min to an hour. Any less and the flavors won't develop fully.

Taste it with 15 min to go and if it still tastes lacking, try adding something with umami. Worcestershire sauce or soy sauce are good bets.
madskye's Avatar madskye
07:34 PM Liked: 24
#9 of 60
09-24-2010 | Posts: 2,183
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I add beer and ground chipotle pepper.

I am wondering about all the posts recommending chili powder--aren't the spices she's using already what makes up chili powder?
cristeen's Avatar cristeen
07:46 PM Liked: 148
#10 of 60
09-24-2010 | Posts: 14,677
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Quote:
Originally Posted by madskye View Post
I am wondering about all the posts recommending chili powder--aren't the spices she's using already what makes up chili powder?
Nope. She has no chiles listed. Dried, ground chiles of any kind. The easiest place to find them is chili powder, but ground ancho or any number of others would work. The other big ingredients in chili powder are usually garlic and oregano.

Personally, i also add worcestershire, cinnamon, cocoa and chipotle, but thats personal preference. Since you say it doesnt taste right, the first thing i would do is add a hefty amt of chili powder. After that you can tweak it, but i bet thats whats missing, assuming your ingredient list is accurate.
HappyMommy2's Avatar HappyMommy2
07:52 PM Liked: 76
#11 of 60
09-24-2010 | Posts: 1,796
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A dash of cinnamon, and lots of chili powder. You can get mild or spicy.
journeymom's Avatar journeymom
08:00 PM Liked: 1586
#12 of 60
09-24-2010 | Posts: 7,417
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I would add chili powder, oregano and beef/chicken broth, depending on your ground meat of choice.
Arduinna's Avatar Arduinna
08:03 PM Liked: 169
#13 of 60
09-24-2010 | Posts: 31,187
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Well she does have cayenne, that is a chile. I think that chili powder has paprika in it along with other chiles and spices
cristeen's Avatar cristeen
10:30 PM Liked: 148
#14 of 60
09-24-2010 | Posts: 14,677
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Arduinna View Post
Well she does have cayenne, that is a chile. I think that chili powder has paprika in it along with other chiles and spices
Cayenne is all heat and no flavor though. I looked up a recipe to make your own chili powder, and it called for Ancho and New Mexico chiles as the main bulk of the mix.

Personally, i also add a can of roasted green chiles to mine.
journeymom's Avatar journeymom
02:11 AM Liked: 1586
#15 of 60
09-25-2010 | Posts: 7,417
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cristeen View Post
Personally, i also add a can of roasted green chiles to mine.
Sounds delicious!
Bokonon's Avatar Bokonon
02:49 AM Liked: 2222
#16 of 60
09-25-2010 | Posts: 2,948
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This is my go-to chili recipe:
http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/The-Ult...li/Detail.aspx

And this one is a little different but outstanding:
http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Jamaica...li/Detail.aspx

I go crazy with fresh cilantro on my chili, and DH likes a little sour cream, shredded cheese, and sriracha sauce on his!

I agree it sounds like you are missing the chili powder. I bet that will make a big difference! And how are you making it? I make mine in the crock pot, so it simmers for hours before we eat. I love that it's football season again and we make chili every weekend!

ETA: We sometimes put our chili over white rice for a different taste. YUM!
kwilki8's Avatar kwilki8
01:22 PM Liked: 11
#17 of 60
09-25-2010 | Posts: 999
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I add some cocoa powder and allspice to mine. I can't wait to make chili!
StrongBeliever's Avatar StrongBeliever
02:07 PM Liked: 15
#18 of 60
09-25-2010 | Posts: 706
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You absolutely have to add some chili powder! That is what makes is chili, silly. I think the chili powder that I use(bought in bulk from the health food store) is just pure ground chili peppers(of various varieties, I am sure). It is a dark brick red, has a warm and smokey scent and it is very very flavorful, without a ton of heat. In fact, I think a really good chili powder can be used *generously* to impart color, body, and of course flavor without imparting any "spiciness". Just warmth. I get my "spicy" in there with chipotle chili powder or red pepper flakes.

Another hint... I like to use a few tablespoons of molasses or brown sugar. The sweetness really helps highlight all of the other flavors, bringing them together happily, without making it "baked beany" or anything.
velochic's Avatar velochic
02:40 PM Liked: 200
#19 of 60
09-25-2010 | Posts: 8,198
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Llyra View Post
garlic
cumin
coriander
cayenne powder
For those who are saying that she doesn't have chili powder in it, these 4 ingredients are the main components of chili powder. I think too many people think that chili powder is a spice, when as a pp mentioned, it's actually a blend of spices.

OP - you are not missing chili powder because you're just putting in the ingredients of chili powder instead of paying a premium to have some factory blend them for you. I disagree that cayenne is all heat and no flavor, but you might try a powder from a different chile, such as ancho or anaheim. We really taste the flavor of cayenne in our dishes, but that could be a personal thing. A milder chile powder might be a good idea.

Coffee, strongly brewed, gives chili a good flavor as does cocoa, as a pp mentioned.

I would add dried oregano, mexican oregano if you can, which is another component of chili powder.

Make sure you salt every layer as you are building them. Salt the veg when you are sauteing them, salt the meat when you are searing it, etc.

For the most part, though, you have all that you need. 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? Make sure you REALLY brown your beef and get some good caramelization on your veg.

I've won a few chili contests and these are keys to making an award-winning good chili.
KatWrangler's Avatar KatWrangler
03:03 PM Liked: 21
#20 of 60
09-25-2010 | Posts: 10,794
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If it is too thin you add a can of refried beans. That will help thicken it up. Also, try simmering with the lid off or part way off to let some of the moisture escape.

My chili is:

Lean Ground Turkey
Kidney Beans (from dried beans)
Onion
Garlic
Ground Cumin
Chili Powder
Chopped hot peppers like jalapenos
Canned Tomatoes (chopped)
Water (but not alot! I kind of eyeball it on how much to add. I can always add more, but it is hard to take away.)

Sometimes I will add a salsa like Habenero and Lime salsa from Trader Joes.

But like Velochic said, Chili powder is a combination of spices. Not a spic by itself.

OP - Does it need salt?
beanma's Avatar beanma
03:11 PM Liked: 2618
#21 of 60
09-25-2010 | Posts: 8,097
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I add dark chocolate chips to mine! It gives it sort of a molé flavor. Adds a lot of depth.
Magali's Avatar Magali
03:40 PM Liked: 176
#22 of 60
09-25-2010 | Posts: 2,297
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Mine is pretty much like yours, but I add paprika. I've never added chilli powder. I have this thing against premixed spice combos lol.
EdnaMarie's Avatar EdnaMarie
03:46 PM Liked: 34
#23 of 60
09-25-2010 | Posts: 5,937
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Do you add salt? I see the others noted that. When I started cooking, I was unaware of the importance of salt, I'd been so ingrained with the anti-salt propaganda (right or wrong).

When I started using it, wow.

I don't use chili powder at all. I only use single spices. A few cloves and cinnamon wouldn't hurt but they're not going to give it that TASTE that salt will.
Llyra's Avatar Llyra (TS)
06:10 PM Liked: 175
#24 of 60
09-25-2010 | Posts: 9,388
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I've been avoiding premixed chili powder, because it almost always has an additive to prevent it from caking. I have ulcerative colitis, and I have unpredictable reactions sometimes to these little "inert" ingredients. I was thinking that my hot peppers would substitute for it. They're either fresh, or home-dried, depending on the season. But I'll try and see if I can find one that I can tolerate.

I like the worcestershire suggestion--- what's in there is some sweetener, and vinegar. I think those might be the missing pieces. I'm gonna try that. I won't do worcestershire-- I'm pretty sure that has additives-- but I can do some brown sugar and some vinegar.

I can't do cinnamon-- DD2 has an allergic reaction to it.

I do add salt-- I forgot to list that.

I do brown the meat well, but I haven't paid much attention to carmelization of the veg--- I'm going to try that. I think that might deal with the need for sweetener, so I can just add vinegar.

Do you think the type of fat makes a difference? My meat is grass-fed, so it's fairly lean. I've been using either olive oil, or palm oil.

Thank you for all the suggestions. So many things to try!
journeymom's Avatar journeymom
06:48 PM Liked: 1586
#25 of 60
09-25-2010 | Posts: 7,417
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Try that oregano. Two teaspoons of dried oregano. And beef broth, not water. Or a bottle of beer and enough broth to cover.

I've been using the same recipe from Food & Wine magazine for 13 years now.

Many brands of chili powder do not have anti-caking additives. I'd shop around.

Or, here's Alton Brown's recipe:

Alton Brown's Chili Powder

Even better, here's what Rick Bayless says:

Quote:
If you mean 'chili powder' as in powder for making a big pot of chili, then I'll tell you that for every 1/4 cup of pure powdered chile (try a combination of ancho, New Mexico (or the spicier guajillo) and a little chipotle) add 4 teaspoons salt, 1 to 2 teaspoons sugar, 2 teaspoons crushed dried Mexican oregano, 1 teaspoon dried thyme, 1/2 to 1 teaspoon ground cumin and 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper. You can certainly play around with the herbs and spices to suit your own taste, but if you want mixture that carries the right amount of salt, use the "1/4 cup ground chile to 4 teaspoons salt" ratio. The sugar adds a nice balance to the natural bitterness in the ground chile. Without the cumin, I use this mixture as the dry rub on steaks and ribs, and to add to barbeque sauce.
He also says if he's going to use it within a few weeks, he'll mince 2 cloves of garlic (he's not a fan of dried garlic), mix them in and store the mixture in the refrigerator.
kallyn's Avatar kallyn
07:16 PM Liked: 14
#26 of 60
09-25-2010 | Posts: 1,508
Joined: May 2005
Quote:
Originally Posted by Llyra View Post
I've been avoiding premixed chili powder, because it almost always has an additive to prevent it from caking. I have ulcerative colitis, and I have unpredictable reactions sometimes to these little "inert" ingredients. I was thinking that my hot peppers would substitute for it. They're either fresh, or home-dried, depending on the season. But I'll try and see if I can find one that I can tolerate.
You can actually use just dried peppers for flavor if you have enough of them. Like this recipe for Texas Red: http://www.g6csy.net/chile/recipes/T...0Carne%202.txt It makes really great chili with not much more than meat and peppers (plus a little cumin and oregano)! I make this kind when I have enough time to deal with the dried chilis - I don't bother peeling them like the recipe says though.
Juvysen's Avatar Juvysen
07:19 PM Liked: 42
#27 of 60
09-25-2010 | Posts: 7,279
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I like to add worchestershire sauce. Gives it a good depth of flavor.
greenmulberry's Avatar greenmulberry
12:06 AM Liked: 42
#28 of 60
09-26-2010 | Posts: 661
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Agreed to sauteeing the onions, garlic, and fresh peppers in some kind of fat! I also add the spices to the cooking meat and veggies before I add the tomatoes. It brings out the flavor.

I put lots of fresh ground black pepper as well in my chili.
tinuviel_k's Avatar tinuviel_k
12:45 AM Liked: 271
#29 of 60
09-26-2010 | Posts: 3,290
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I agree: you are missing chili powder. Not the pre-mixed spice blend, but ground chiles. I use ground ancho chili powder.

I use:
chili powder (several Tbsp)
mild paprika (1 Tbsp)
cayanne (1 tsp)
cumin (4 tsp)
garlic (1 Tbsp
oregano (1 Tbsp)

I also saute the onions in fat, browning them just slightly. If the chili needs a bit of perking up at the end I add just a bit of wine vinegar.
cristeen's Avatar cristeen
01:23 AM Liked: 148
#30 of 60
09-26-2010 | Posts: 14,677
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Quote:
Originally Posted by velochic View Post
For those who are saying that she doesn't have chili powder in it, these 4 ingredients are the main components of chili powder. I think too many people think that chili powder is a spice, when as a pp mentioned, it's actually a blend of spices.

I disagree that cayenne is all heat and no flavor, but you might try a powder from a different chile, such as ancho or anaheim. We really taste the flavor of cayenne in our dishes, but that could be a personal thing. A milder chile powder might be a good idea.
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.

And for worcestershire sauce - I'd try some molasses, vinegar and anchovies if you can do those. That's actually the "secret" ingredient in worcestershire sauce.

These are the spices in my chili:
1 tablespoon Chili Powder
1 tablespoon Cumin
1 teaspoon Garlic Powder
1 teaspoon Thyme
1 teaspoon Tarragon
2 teaspoons Oregano
2 teaspoons Basil
½ teaspoon Cinnamon
½ teaspoon Cocoa
1 4 oz can Green Chiles,Chopped
1 tablespoon Worcestershire
½ teaspoon White Pepper
½ teaspoon Chipotle Powder
¼ teaspoon Cayenne

As for grass-fed beef, that's what I use. I start off the onions/garlic with a couple Tbs of CO and go from there and haven't really noticed a need for more fat.

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