Chili in the winter is one of my favorite comfort foods! I’d even say that my chili is as satisfying as reading a good book curled up in front of a fire. And it’s one of the most affordable meals to make if you’re on a budget.
I’ve been making Chili since I was a young girl, working alongside my mom in the kitchen. But now I don’t make my mom’s chili. I’ve developed my own recipe over the years and it’s got two secret ingredients in it. Yea, I know…..telling you my recipe means that it’s not secret anymore.
You’re probably thinking “what secret ingredients can you possibly put in chili?”
Then you’re thinking…..”what more can chili have in it besides meat, beans and tomatoes?”
Lean in and I’ll tell you what I discovered. You’re going to go….”Say what?”
It’s chocolate…..and coffee!
Really? Yes, really. There’s not much of either ingredient but they add so much depth of flavor. And you would never know either ingredient is there, except I just told you.
I always start making my chili by browning the ground meat, then adding the chopped onion and spices (chili powder, cumin and garlic). This is when the unsweetened cocoa powder is added. Mix the browned meat, onion, spices and cocoa together and let them cook for 2 – 3 minutes. Stir frequently so it doesn’t burn but don’t stress out if little bits start sticking to the bottom of the pan, cause next you’re going to de-glaze (I know, fancy term) the pan with a cup of coffee. I use the leftover coffee from morning and I always hope there’s a cup left. When you pour the coffee into the pan with the meat mixture, it’s going to sizzle and you’ll be able to stir up all those little bits of goodness that might have stuck to the bottom of the pan.
Now I know some of you are thinking “I can’t make this cause I don’t drink or have coffee.” Then just skip this ingredient. It’s OK. The chili will still be chili.
Chili was a “go-to” recipe when I didn’t have a kitchen during our remodel. I survived a year without a kitchen, including an entire winter, by cooking in an electric skillet and my slow cooker. Brown the meat in the electric skillet and continue cooking in the skillet through the “adding the coffee” step. Then dump everything in the slow cooker and let it simmer while you work on your project.
Secret Ingredient Chili
Chili. It “hits the spot” on the first crisp day of fall and satisfies a big appetite on a cold winter day. This Chili recipe has a couple of surprise ingredients that give it more depth of flavor than your average chili recipe.
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 20 minutes
- Total Time: 35 minutes
- Yield: 4
- Category: soup
- 1 lb of ground beef
- 1 medium yellow or white onion, chopped
- 1 1/2 T of chili powder
- 1/2 t ground cumin
- 1/2 t salt
- 1/4 t ground black pepper
- 1 T cocoa powder
- 1/2 C to 1C of coffee
- 1 15-oz can of chili beans in chili sauce
- 1 15-oz can of beans – pork ‘n beans, red beans or pinto beans
- 1 15-oz can crushed tomatoes
Brown ground beef in a large pot on med-high heat. If there is lots of grease in the pan after browning, use a large spoon to remove it.
Add chopped onion to browned meat and stir together.
Add spices and cocoa. Stir together and let cook for 2 – 3 minutes. You may need to turn the heat down a bit so that it doesn’t burn if you removed all of the grease. Don’t worry if some bits stick to the bottom of the pan at this point.
Add coffee. Stir well and scrape all the bits off the bottom of the pan. Lower heat to medium and let cook for another 2 minutes until coffee is reduced by half.
Lower heat to med-low. Add beans (do not drain the canned beans) and tomatoes. I will add about 1/4 cup (or less) water to the cans and swish around to get all of the extra sauce and tomatoes loosen and pour that into the pot. Stir well.
Let simmer and stir frequently until ready to serve.
You can use ground beef, turkey or even deer meat. If you like a meatier chili, add more meat. I like to use a variety of beans, but feel free to use all chili beans if you’d like.
I often like to serve the chili with shredded cheese on top.
If you get the chili too spicy, add a dollop of sour cream on the chili when served. The sour cream will help tame the heat.
Let’s get cooking!