Cook's Illustrated Recipes»Stews»Southwest Tex Mex»Beef»Beef Chili with Bacon and Black Beans Recipe

Could we take supermarket staples and create a basic chili with great flavor?

The Problem

Unfortunately, many basic chili recipes yield a pot of underspiced, underflavored chili reminiscent of sloppy Joes.

The Goal

To develop a no-fuss chili that tasted far better than the sum of its common parts: ground meat, tomatoes, and chili powder.

The Solution

Add the spices to the pan with the aromatics to get the most flavor, and use commercial chili powder with a boost from more cumin, oregano, cayenne, and coriander. Use 85 percent lean beef for the fullest flavor, and use a combination of diced tomato and tomato puree. Add the beans, red kidney or black, with the tomatoes so that they cook enough to absorb flavor but don't cook so much that they fall apart. Cook with the lid on for half of the cooking time for the best consistency.