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Food & Wine Ground >> Chili Thickening Agent. The Best!


10/17/11 1:27 AM
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Mullet @ Heart
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I realize I'll probably get blasted by all the purists, but the best thickening agent for chili is canned refried beans. A few small scoops to thicken it a little bit, or a whole can to turn it into paste.

Seriously.

I won't use anything else anymore.

None of the traditional thickeners (word?) contribute to the flavor. And the threat of lumps is present if you use flour and don't do it right.

Just keep in mind that it will stick to the bottom if you're not careful.
10/17/11 4:03 PM
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Pito Chueco
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Masa?
10/19/11 8:27 PM
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Mullet @ Heart
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I know!

But no.
10/27/11 1:11 AM
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alpo
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Edited: 10/27/11 1:10 AM
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I don't use a thickening agent anymore.  If you cut back on your liquid, you don't really need it.  

I usually do something like:

3-4 lbs cubed beef
4 roma tomatoes
4-6 large peppers... anaheim, bell, poblano, etc.
2 medium onions
1 bunch cilantro
1 tbsp cumin
a few tbsp chili powder
2-4 roma tomatoes
24 oz beer
1-2 c water
4 beef boullion cubes or equivilant
salt/pepper to taste

Simmer for 4 hours.  If you want beans, add them after about the 3 hour mark.  If it's still pretty loose after 4 hours, then go ahead and add a masa flour slurry, but it's almost never necessary.  I'm not just talking out of my ass here.. I have won several chili contests with zero thickeners.  This is also in Texas, where the judging is brutal.  Too many people add it like it's part of the process, but it should really just be last minute adjustment when necessary.  
 
10/29/11 2:22 PM
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CR1chard
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I cook my chili for over a day - the ground brisket I use (amongst other cuts of meat) almost liquifies, thickening the chili. I'll use a really dark roux if it needs to be a little tighter, but I usually don't have to
10/31/11 10:11 AM
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Mit
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Edited: 10/31/11 10:14 AM
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I make mine really thick...lots of beans, lots of meat....but to thicken it when I need it...it's tomatoe paste.

I have noticed a few receipes adding beer into chilis which I haven't really done(I have cooked off some beer when browning meat....may have to start.

Incidentally...what sort of beer we talking? Anything interesting or just some bland macro beer? I like cooking off a porter or stout generally when I add it to beef.
10/31/11 12:49 PM
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CR1chard
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I only use Stone Smoked Porter in my chili Phone Post
11/3/11 2:04 AM
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Mullet @ Heart
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Definitely dark. I use a local Utah brew called Polygamy Porter (seriously, that's what it's called).
11/11/11 3:44 AM
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shootfightermike
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11/11/11 5:25 PM
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Mullet @ Heart
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Correct me if I'm wrong, but we seem to be talking about two different versions of "thick".

One thought is to just have less liquid, as alpo mentioned. That probably won't result in a much thicker liquid, will it?

I'm talking about thickening the liquid, regardless of how much or little there is.
11/20/11 12:36 AM
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alpo
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Yeah, I guess that is true.  I prefer less liquid.  It depends on how the whole thing shakes out, though.  If I want to jump the gun and serve it early or if there's more liquid than anticipated, then I'll add a masa slurry to thicken it.  I try to keep chili as simple as possible, so I'll skip the thickener if at all possible.  

One distinct advantage in skipping starch is that it can't be scorched.  As soon as beans or flour are added, it has to be stirred frequently and/or the heat has to be turned down or it will burn on the bottom of the pot.  Otherwise, you can boil the shit out of it for hours with little or no interaction.  
2/22/12 4:06 PM
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Bat21
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 Flour? Starch? Ugh. Neither belongs in a good chili, IMO

I usually add Guiness Stout to mine.
2/22/12 4:09 PM
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shootfightermike
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 ttt
6/22/12 12:42 AM
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shootfightermike
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 ttt
7/5/12 6:14 PM
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BaldTony
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Can you use some sort of hydrocolloid as a thickener? Much better than flour
7/5/12 7:36 PM
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shootfightermike
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 tom paste 4 the win
7/17/12 3:39 AM
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melancoholic
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cook em the night before. the meat stuff breaks down and turn into a thick soupy liquid... stuff. which makes the chili all thick.
8/22/12 3:43 PM
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jaydub
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use a little xanthan gum if you want it thicker.
9/1/12 7:35 PM
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BaldTony
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jaydub - use a little xanthan gum if you want it thicker.

Weigh the Chilli and add about 0.2% of that weight of the gum. Will stop if being too rubbery, but will still thicken it quite a lot. ie if you have 500g of chilli, use 1g of xanthan gum. It really is miraculous stuff. Doesn't affect the taste.
9/7/12 12:50 AM
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Mullet @ Heart
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10/1/12 12:31 AM
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fearOfABlackPlanet
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i use refried beans as well, if i don't care about it being healthy sometimes i use masarepa
1/24/13 5:43 PM
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mikehotel
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I use tortilla chips, works great
1/26/13 1:15 AM
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Mullet @ Heart
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Tortilla chips? Process, please?
2/7/13 3:02 PM
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Big Pun
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I use masa
3/9/13 10:35 PM
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MiloTheDog
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I use crushed saltines to thicken it up. Over 4 hours the crackers completely disintegrate and thicken up nicely.

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