How to Thin Chili That's Too Thick

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You've worked hard to prepare the perfect chili, only to find it doesn't look just right. If you aren't sure about its thickness, stir the chili thoroughly and look at the liquid. While it shouldn't be watery, it shouldn't be pasty like a gravy, either. When you remove a large spoon of it, it should be at least one-fourth liquid. Use one of several ways to remedy thick chili without ruining the flavor of your dish.

Initial Steps

If you've made enough chili for more than one meal, it is even more important to avoid pasty chili because it typically thickens over time. If you have extra juice from canned tomatoes or beans, that may be enough to remedy the problem. Add up to 2 tablespoons for each 1 cup of chili, cover and simmer for at least 15 more minutes. You can repeat if necessary.

Pulling Out the Big Guns

If your chili is way too thick, you're doing to need to take more drastic measures. If you are making vegetarian chili, add 2 ounces of vegetable broth, tomato juice or tomato-based vegetable juice for each 1 cup of chili. For beef chili, add beef broth. And, for chicken chili, add chicken broth -- or stock if you don't have broth. If you don't have broth or stock, you can improvise by disintegrating one bullion cube into a hot cup of water and using 2 ounces per cup of chili. Simmer your chili at least 20 minutes longer.

Reseasoning the Chili

If you have to add a lot of liquid to your chili, you are in danger of throwing off the flavor. Taste your chili after your changes, and add any herbs or spices your chili calls for. Typically, you might need more chili powder, hot chili powder, chili mix, garlic, cumin, oregano, paprika, pepper or salt -- just a dash. Avoid adding more masa harina. Add the seasonings before you simmer the chili.

Preventing the Problem

To make masterful chili next time from the same recipe, keep your pot covered around 90 percent of the time. If your meat is cooked -- not raw -- simmer the chili after the first 20 minutes rather than having it at a rolling boil. If your recipe calls for masa harina or another flour, try using one-half the amount called for. Make sure you use all the liquid from canned tomatoes. If water or broth needs to be added, it is better to do it sooner than later for the best-tasting end result.

References

  • 12,167 Kitchen and Cooking Secrets; Susan Sampson
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