How to Make the Perfect Chili

Instead of agonizing over your Super Bowl predictions (Colts by 11, by the way), focus on something you can control: your Super Bowl meal. We consulted with London, Ontario’s Mike Callaghan — the 2009 Canadian National Chili Champion and de facto leader of the Black Pig BBQ Competition Team — for five tips to make the ultimate chili.

Visit your butcher.
A butcher will always have something fresher and tastier than pre-packaged supermarket fare. Plus, you’ll actually know what cut of beef you’re eating. But, adds Callaghan, your beef needn’t be ground at all. “Don’t limit yourself,” he says. “Ground beef or big chunks — they’re all good.”

Think outside the beef.
Cow is classic, but oh-so-predictable. Says Callaghan, “My competition chili this year features beef, pork, turkey and lamb.” Don’t be shy; meat is your friend.

All heat is not equal.
Stale chili powder won’t cut it. “You have to use good chili peppers and spices,” says Callaghan. “Otherwise you’re just making tomato sauce. Different peppers give different types of heat and flavour. To name a few: jalapeno, serrano, chorizo, wiriand cayenne.”

Get crazy.
There are few ‘wrong’ ingredients, so experiment. “Be it vegetables or really hot spices, make it your own,” says Callaghan. Other wild ideas: dark chocolate, bourbon, okra or maple syrup.

Go slow.
Start your chili early — the morning of the game, or even the day before. Throw it in your slow-cooker (or any heavy pot) and let it simmer. In the wise words of Callaghan, “Just let it do its thing.”

Image courtesy of cmbellman.

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