Spicing up my chili

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Oct 6, 2005
Right off the bat, Texans need to hit the back button now lol

I'm about to make my annual winter batch of chili. In order to be a little more health concious I'm using 99% lean ground turkey instead of beef and pork. I've made a small batch with turkey and it was pretty good so I'm not concerned with that change.

My current recipe is:
7lbs meat (turkey or a beef/pork mix)
1 large white onion
5 green bell peppers
1 garlic bulb
4 cans of dark kidney beans rinsed
4 cans of black beans rinsed
4 cans of red beans rinsed
6 cans diced tomatoes
4 cans tomato sauce
1 2.5oz container of chili powder
1 tbsp basil leaves
5 or 6 jalapenos with ribs, maybe more for desired heat
2c dark brown sugar
Black pepper
Water as needed

Things I am definitely going to try but don't know how much
Unsweetened chocolate powder

Curious to try
Chipotle chili pepper powder in place of normal chili powder, 1 to 1 exchange?
Roasting the jalapenos - seems pretty simple to try

Looking for some thoughts on how to liven up this chili. Past years have been a little bland but good and some Frank's Red Hot Sauce has given it some flavor in the past. It definitely needs more heat and I think the chocolate will help add a richness to it.
Only one onion and 7 lbs of meat? Also, don't use canned beans, they are mushy and full of sodium. By dry beans at the supermarket and soak them in water for 12 hours. Much healthier, and also cheaper.
Not really big on onions and my wife gets nervous about it tasting very oniony. She doesn't really take into account that this makes 3 gallons of chili. Maybe I'll sneak in another.

I'll look at dried beans.
I really like the flavor of chipotles in adobo sauce (canned). Put the appropriate amount (depends upon your heat tolerance) into a blender with a bit of water and puree. This adds a nice, smoky flavor and some heat. You could sub these for a couple of your jalapenos. I believe it will add more flavor than the powder.

Even though I live in Texas I do use beans in my chili. I actually like Ranch Style beans from the can because the sauce adds flavor as well. There is not a whole lot of fat in a can of RS beans.

I have entered a number of chili cook offs over the years - won a few. I can say without reservation that I have tried very few bad chilis. I either cut up my meat by hand or grind it myself. Coarsely ground brisket is wonderful chili meat as is hand cut chuck roast. I made turkey chili once, for a friend, because it doesn't flip my switch. I hand cut turkey breast cutlets. My friend was a health fanatic at the time.

Your chili recipe looks pretty darned good to me, BTW!

Any thoughts on how much chocolate to use on such a large batch? I'm thinking just a couple tablespoons, 2 maybe 3 max.
For that amount of meat i would use 4 12oz cans of sliced Jalapenos.

And some dried Mexican Oregano.

Dried beans as mentioned.

I have used Chocolate before, I use chips.

They melt fast and easy.
I have never used chocolate in my chili. That doesn't mean I have anything against it.

What does it actually do for the finished product? What aromas or flavors does it produce or enhance?
Originally Posted By: Bluestream
Only one onion and 7 lbs of meat?

That immediatly jumped out to me too. For such a large recipe, I would personally use at least 7 to 10 onions.
Originally Posted By: DBMaster
I have never used chocolate in my chili. That doesn't mean I have anything against it.

What does it actually do for the finished product? What aromas or flavors does it produce or enhance?

You're not supposed to smell it afterwards, unless you used too much. I've read its supposed to add an extra dimension and enhance the flavor. There are a lot of recipes online that use it, figured it was worth a try.
Tabasco, habanero peppers, and CUMIN IS A MUST! Cumin in such a great flavor for chili. You should be able to smell that there is cumin somewhere in there upon opening the lid when cooking. I'd also use more onion, and several colors of peppers, not just green. If nothing else, it adds color and a slightly sweet flavor to some bites. How long do you cook this chili? Mine cooks in a crock pot or roaster for 18 hours. I always use canned beans washed, about 1/2 of the beans rupture during such long cooking and you end up with a very thick chili. Tasty!
Originally Posted By: DBMaster
Your chili recipe looks pretty darned good to me, BTW!

+1 - Texans need not hit the back button, but instead, try to use a virtual spoon to sample!
Turkey is a great alternative to beef. I do love ground beef, but find turkey is a great substitute if you are trying to reduce red meat intake. They also sell sodium free canned beans, that is typically what I go with but bagged beans are likely the most inexpensive option as Bluestream mentioned. Maybe a little liquid smoke? Depends on what you like tastewise. You can try some red pepper flakes or cayenne for more heat, and maybe other herbs and spices to mix things up a bit. I tend to toss in Oregano, onion/garlic salt, a couple dabs of bbq sauce etc.. I randomly decide on things to toss in, depending on what I have or what I feel like trying. Recipe looks good though!! Nothing better than hot soups and chili on these colder days.
I make a phenomenal turkey chili that the family scarfs up and kills. Crushed garlic, liquid smoke, and diced jalapenos add a real nice touch. We like to add 8-12 oz of sour cream and 8-12 ounces of shredded sharp cheddar cheese about 1 hour before it is done cooking.

Really like the added flavor of liquid smoke.
Oh, and the one trick I've learned over the years is that chili tastes better on the second day after it sits over night and soaks in all the flavors. So if you need it on Friday, make it on Thursday.
You have to make stuff the way you and your family like it. My wife and I both like chili with beans and we use pinto beans. Being from Texas does not mean I want it so hot tears are running down my face, although I have had it that way. We like it medium spicy and use cayenne for heat. In my younger days I would have a hot sauce called Mean Green Iguana with habanero chips. Only problem with that was having to blow your nose every 5 minutes and the pain the next day. But I do have to have only beef in my chili.
Lots of good chili recipes here. I start with raw pintos but add a can or two of Ranch brand beans, grated cheese, a bit of spice and a portion of diced onions in at the last few minutes into a crockpot. It adds freshness and bite, but still blends nicely. I'd be willing to try a little chocolate, too.
I'm a big fan of the canned chipotles, too. Cumin is a must, surely you would enjoy it. Rotel tomatoes are great to put in almost anything. Never tried the chocolate, but sounds like a great idea.
I agree cumin is a must in chili. I suggest using whole cumin seeds rather than ground cumin as the seeds will give bursts of cumin flavor. Also oregano is more commonly used than basil.

No salt in your recipe??

Tom NJ
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