Chili con carne or chili is a one-pot meal that is easy to make and even easier to serve.
It is a convenient way to serve a family because the ingredients are usually kept in stock, and it takes less than 20 minutes of preparation time.
Chili is best served with rice and cornbread but can also be eaten with toasted bread or crackers.
However, there can be problems in making and serving chili if one does not pay close attention to its consistency.
If the chili is too watery, it would have very little taste (because all its juices are already absorbed by rice or bread) and may also be quite unappetizing.
In this article, we will discuss several techniques on how to thicken chili and make it more appetizing.
How to Make Chilli?
Chili con carne or chili is usually made from a combination of beans and meat.
Five different types of meat are commonly used: beef, turkey, pork, chicken, or veal.
The mixture also often includes cumin, ancho chilies (dried poblano), oregano leaves, garlic powder, bell peppers, and onions.
It is a uniquely American dish that has been around since the mid-19th century.
It is believed to have originated in Texas, where its name was derived from that of the Mexican state of Chihuahua.
Enchilada, tortilla, and tamale are common dishes served with chili.
To make chili, one must first brown the meat and then cook with the other ingredients.
The next step is to simmer for several hours until the meat becomes tender.
Then, one may add kidney beans and tomatoes to make chili con carne.
The consistency of chili varies from one recipe to another, but it is generally thick.
To thicken and flavor the chili, some cooks add onions and/or bell peppers initially or towards the end of the cooking process.
Some cooks also reduce the amount of liquid by half before adding tomatoes into their mixture.
Common Mistakes When Making Chili
Aside from the thin and watery chili, cooks make other common mistakes when preparing this dish.
There are several things that one must consider when cooking chili:
- Always make sure that the meat used is tender enough. Otherwise, the texture of the dish will suffer. Cooking time depends on how well-cooked the meat is.
- Do not use too much chili powder when making the dish because it will make the aroma of the food extremely strong and pungent.
- To make sure that chili does not become watery, mix only a little bit of water with all the ingredients before putting them in the pot. Also, make sure that you are not adding too much water while cooking the chili because it would result in a thin, watery, and unappetizing dish.
- Add too much cheese, and the chili will no longer be considered a “healthy” dish.
- Chili must not have too much salt because it will ruin its taste and result in high blood pressure. In addition, an unseasoned dish will not be appealing to eat.
How to Thicken Chili?
If one does not want the chili to turn out watery, just like the one made by a fast-food chain, it is very important to thicken its consistency.
Here are some ways on how to thicken chili:
1 – Add Tomato Paste or Sauce
Tomato paste and sauce can also be added to the cooking process to create thicker and flavorful chili.
If you want to make sure that the dish is perfectly thick, however, you’d better add the paste or sauce at the beginning of the preparation process.
You can also include whole or crushed tomatoes in your chili.
2 – Add Corn Flour.
A cup of cornflour can also be added to a broth that has been made from the chili. With this, chili will have a nice taste and thick consistency.
Corn flour is easy to find in grocery stores, but it must not be confused with corn starch because they are two different ingredients.
3 – Add Cooked Lentils and Beans
After the chili has already been cooked, you can thicken it by adding kidney beans and lentils.
These ingredients are very healthy because they are high in protein, vitamins A and C, iron, and zinc.
They are also rich in dietary fiber and have low cholesterol content.
Simply adding these two ingredients can already make chili thick and healthy.
4 – Use Thickening Agents
If you prefer not to use the previous options, you can also thicken your chili by using thickening agents like flour, cornstarch, and tomato sauce.
As an added benefit, the use of these substances can stretch your budget as well.
To use flour, you can either dissolve it in a small amount of water or add that to the chili right from the start.
To use cornstarch, you have to mix it with cold water before adding it to the broth.
Lastly, tomato sauce must be mixed with some oil before it is poured on top of the dish so that everything will blend well.
5 – Toppings on Thick Chili.
What makes chili taste complete is the toppings that you add to it. Here are some of the best toppings:
- Fresh beans and corn.
- Cooked rice.
- Cherry tomatoes (halved).
- Sour cream (optional).
- Diced green onion (chopped finely).
For people who love a spicy taste, adding chopped jalapeno peppers is a good idea.
6 – Let the Chili Simmer for a Longer period.
If you want to make your chili flavorful and rich, simply let it simmer for a longer period.
By doing this, the ingredients will blend well together, and the meat will become tender.
To ensure that the dish will not stick to the pot, you can also coat it with oil before placing it on the stove.
Letting it cook slowly for about four hours will surely result in a thick and tasty chili.
In conclusion, chili can be as healthy and as tasty as your favorite meal if you know exactly how to prepare it.
However, chili should not be too thick because it would make the dish unappetizing to eat.
Keep in mind that the ingredients used must be fresh and healthy.
If possible, always choose organic products so that you will not put your family’s health at risk.
You can also let the chili simmer for a longer period so that they will all mix well together.