Make your best-ever chilli con carne with these so-simple tips.
1. Sear the meat
This step is vital for adding flavour, thanks to a chemical reaction called the Maillard reaction. Searing over high heat caramelises the surface of the meat, enhancing the savoury “meat” taste and adding complex layers of umami flavour. Without this step, meat dishes can taste flat and boring.
2. Sauté the vegetables
If simmering the chilli is going to soften your vegetables anyway, it’s easy to assume there’s no point in sautéing them to begin with. However, the aromas and flavours in raw vegetables are different from those in cooked veg, so a chilli in which the vegetables were sautéed will have a more balanced, slightly sweeter flavour.
3. Season as you go
If you wait until the very end to add salt and pepper, then the dish is only seasoned on the surface. The salt will dissolve into the sauce, but it won’t really permeate throughout. Adding salt and pepper as you go allows each layer of a dish to be seasoned individually, resulting in a more even distribution and balanced flavours in the finished dish.
4. Cook it for long enough
A quickly-made chilli will still be good, but it won’t have the richness and layers of flavour of one that’s been simmering for a few hours. A truly great chilli needs time to draw out the flavours from each ingredient and blend them together.
5. Top it off
Every great bowl of chilli needs toppings. We love avocado, spring onions, sour cream, salsa, grated cheese, hot sauce, tortilla chips, fresh coriander, sliced jalapeños, crispy bacon or a few lime wedges for squeezing over!
Aside from the toppings, these tips apply to any slow-cooked stew or casserole.