Few dishes lead to as much debate as chili. Questions about what kind of meat (if any) and chilies to use and whether or not to use beans and tomatoes can bring people to blows. As much fun as it is to fight over food, if you ask us, all chili is delicious as long as it's done right.
Chili is also a great Super Bowl dish. It's filling, comforting, and easy to make in large batches. While no chili recipe is guaranteed to be to everyone's liking, I bet you'll find a crowd-pleaser in this list of 18 recipes, which includes all-beef chile con carne, tamale pies—both vegetariaand meaty—and pressure cooker green chili with chicken.
We're going to dive headfirst into the chili debate by boldly calling this recipe "the best." And we back that claim up with an incredibly flavorful chili made with chopped short rib, dried chili peppers, and spices like star anise, cloves, fennel, and coriander. Coffee and chocolate give the chili extra richness, and, to bump up the savoriness, we turn to a few secret ingredients: Marmite, anchovies, and soy sauce. We also use kidney beans (sorry, Texans).
After starting this roundup with a recipe that includes beans, it's only right to go all meat for our second choice. This chile con carne is seriously beefy—it's not much more than big hunks of chuck and a blend of fresh and dried chilies. To get the most flavor out of the peppers, we soften them in chicken stock and use an immersion blender to purée the mix.
Our standard chile con carne isn't hard to make, but it does need to simmer for a couple hours. If you're pressed for time before the game, using a pressure cooker allows you to make the dish in just an hour. Browning the chuck whole before cutting it into chunks saves some time, but otherwise, this recipe is pretty similar to the last one.
When it comes to chili burgers and chili dogs, you need a specific kind of chili. It's acting as a condiment rather than an entrée, so it should be saucier and a little less intense. Like our "best" chili, this recipe uses a variety of spices, anchovies, Marmite, and soy sauce for maximum flavor. Big pieces of meat don't work as a condiment, so we use ground beef instead, and thicken the sauce with masa to make it a little more bun-friendly.
Cornbread and chili are made for each other, and this old-school dish combines them into one package. We don't try to change the classic too much here, going with a simple ground beef mixture flavored with corn, black beans, tomatoes, cheese, scallions, and a variety of spices. We use our brown butter cornbread for the topping, which is richer than a normal cornbread.
Our basic tamale pie is weeknight-easy—but the Super Bowl is an excuse to try something a little more ambitious. This recipe updates old-school tamale pie by swapping the ground beef for slow-cooked skirt steak and the ground spices for whole dried chilies and fresh poblanos.
Pork and Chicken
This pork shoulder chili is flavored with chilies, cumin, brown sugar, cocoa powder, tomato paste, and Worcestershire sauce. If you like beans in your chili, you can also add dark kidney beans, which cook down to a creamy consistency. The last step is to spoon on cornbread batter and cook it right in the slow cooker. A word of warning—this recipe takes about eight hours, so start early.
Carne adovada is New Mexico's pork-based answer to Texan chile con carne. Good New Mexican dried chilies add a sweetness that's important for cutting through the fatty pork, but you're unlikely to find them outside New Mexico. Our solution is to add raisins and frozen orange juice concentrate (yes, concentrate—fresh juice is too citrusy).
If you ask someone from New Mexico, they'll probably tell you that it's impossible to make real chile verde without roasted Hatch chilies. That's all well and good, but those of us not blessed with access to them can make something similar that's still delicious. To do so, we replace the Hatch chilies with a combination of earthy poblanos, spicy jalapeños, and sweet cubanelle.
For this simple chili recipe, we use the same trick as for our carne adovada, adding raisins and orange juice concentrate for sweetness and depth, plus another important chili-making technique: browning the meat on just one side to give it lots of flavor without overcooking it. To keep it easy, we also use canned beans instead of dried—they get plenty of flavor as they slowly cook.
Another quick chili recipe, this one is based on raw Mexican-style chorizo (store-bought is fine, but you can also make your own). The well-spiced chorizo gives you a head start on flavor, and we save more time by using a mix of chili powder, onion, garlic, cumin, and Mexican oregano instead of whole chilies. A dash of fish sauce fortifies the meatiness of the chorizo.
This green chili tastes like it takes hours to make, but thanks to the pressure cooker, it comes together in just 30 minutes. Technically, it couldn't be much easier—if you can roughly chop ingredients and dump them into a pot, you're all set. The pressure cooker gets tons of flavor out of the chilies, tomatillos, and chicken, and finishing with fresh cilantro keeps it bright.
The pork version of Kenji's pressure cooker chicken chile verde is pretty much the same and every bit as easy. Again, the only work it takes from you is prepping the garlic, onion, peppers, tomatillos, and meat—we use fatty pork shoulder, cut into fairly large chunks—transferring it all to your machine, and letting it cook at high pressure for a half hour. Once the pork is tender and juicy, you'll remove it and purée the rest of the ingredients into a smooth sauce using your immersion blender. It's definitely easy enough for a weeknight, but more than tasty enough for a party.
Chicken and white beans may not really sound like the base for a chili, but you won't be disappointed if you give it a try. We keep the flavors subtle with ground cumin, coriander seed, and a mix of fresh peppers. Charring the peppers gives them the smokiness that we love in a bowl of chili. To make it rich and creamy, we mix in both puréed white beans and shredded pepper Jack cheese.
Vegetarian chili gets a bad rap, but it can be just as good as any other chili as long as you ditch the fake meat. Instead of trying to replicate beef, celebrate the vegetables and beans. Here, we go with a mix of red kidney beans and chickpeas for some textural contrast. Leaving out meat does mean a little less savoriness, which we make up for with soy sauce and Marmite.
This vegan chili is made with black beans and diced sweet potatoes, which have great flavor but get pretty soft when cooked. To add textural contrast, we mix in chewy hominy. The sauce is made by blending dried chilies into a paste with fresh orange juice.
You don't need meat to make a filling chili—this one's superhearty, thanks to black beans, cubed butternut squash, and chopped bell pepper. It also gets a serious kick from half a can of chipotles in adobo. Avocado adds creaminess and tempers the heat, but you can also garnish with cheese. Vegan cheese is fine if you want to stay dairy-free.
In a classic tamale pie, the ground beef is mostly just a vehicle for the spices, so it's easy to make a vegetarian version. We replace the beef with red kidney beans, which we mix with black beans, charred corn, poblano peppers, and green olives. For extra flavor, we mix red jalapeño and scallions into the cornbread batter.
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