The Lively Ingredient That Gives Chili A Major Flavor Boost

chili con carne in a pot
chili con carne in a pot - Rudisill/Getty Images

Chili is one of those deliciously comforting dishes, and its warm and spicy flavors are appreciated year-round. One of the most extraordinary aspects of this dish is its versatility. There are plenty of ways to explore this and take your chili up a notch -- but one that needs particular praise and examination is the addition of coffee.

Whether brewed or instant, coffee can elevate the flavors in chili, subtly complementing the bold taste of tomatoes, the moreish flavor of ground meat, and the beautiful warmth from different spices. Even if you're not a coffee lover, adding it to your chili does not instantly transform it into the usual morning kick-starter. It simply adds a level of complexity to the other ingredients.

To try out this lively extra, adding black coffee or granules to the chili is advised. A latte or cappuccino chili concoction might be a step too far, but then again ... you can never say never in the culinary world.

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A Spoonful Of Coffee Makes The Chili Go Round

chili con carne in a black pot
chili con carne in a black pot - Drong/Getty Images

If you're apprehensive about the bitter taste of coffee ruining the delicate aromas of the spices inside the chili, rest assured, you will be pleasantly surprised. The earthiness of the coffee deepens the flavors of the other spices inside the chili, especially cumin and paprika. However, it must be underlined that coffee is used in chili to purely highlight other ingredients, and its flavor should in no way be overpowering. Considering this, it's best to start experimenting with the less is more approach.

Adding coffee is not just the ideal flavor booster for spices but can also work to tenderize the meat. There's a reason why rubbing your burgers in coffee is gaining popularity, and the same logic applies to your chili. The coffee invigorates the beef's flavor, creating an even more succulent and meaty bite every time. Coffee is not just an excellent addition to meaty chilis either, as it is equally delicious in a vegan chili using chopped walnuts instead of ground meat.

Brewed Or Instant?

a spoonful of instant coffee
a spoonful of instant coffee - Valeri Vatel/Shutterstock

The age-old coffee question: instant or brewed? Instant coffee is ideal for convenience, but when it comes to adding coffee to your chili, flavor must be your priority. Instant coffee can have a less developed flavor than brewed coffee. Instant also tends to be made from robusta beans, which have a bolder bitter aftertaste, while freshly brewed ground coffee retains its essential oils, which gives it a richer body. Consequently, this will impact the flavor it brings to your chili.

Brewed coffee also has the capability for you to delve into other flavor profiles. For instance, a brewed coffee with subtle hints of chocolate and cherry will beautifully complement the savory and sweet notes in the chili. Chocolate is another common extra in chili, which adds complexity to other ingredients, but when combined into the coffee, you get the best of both worlds.

Are you apprehensive about the amount of caffeine that coffee might add? No stress; you can easily use decaffeinated in your chili instead. The next time you're whipping up a chili, try adding a little coffee to see how it enhances the flavors -- you may not look at coffee the same way again.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.