Plan B's Chef John Shares 8 Tips for Making Great Chili

Stephanie Webster


Chef John Brennan of Plan B in Milford knows a LOT about making Chili. This is why when it came time to plan my Super Bowl party, I turned to him for advice. Chef John's 8 simple tips will turn your Super Bowl menu into a huge win. Enjoy the game. Enjoy the chili. 

  1. Start by using the best Ingredients. The heart of the chili is the meat that you use. At Plan B we use premium certified humane beef and pork from ranchers that don’t use antibiotics or hormones on their cattle. It’s a simple step, the better the meat…the better the chili.
  2. At Plan B we use a mixture of ground and cubed chuck and ground pork. Think of your chili like a meat ball, the perfect blend of pork and beef can make your chili a success. When purchasing the meat for your chili I suggest finding a local butcher that grinds their meat fresh daily, freshness equals flavor.
  3. Start your chili by sweating your vegetables. Treat your chili like a soup or a delicate sauce and sweat your onions and peppers to release their flavor. I suggest bell peppers and Spanish onions. When doing this be sure to heat your pot at medium to high and keep an eye on your veggies, stirring regularly. Once your veggies have been sweating for the appropriate amount of time they should look semi translucent. Now it’s time to build your chili on top of the flavors released from the vegetables. 
  4. Be sure to brown your meat in a separate pot. You want to render some of the fat off the meat by browning your beef and or pork in a pot then straining the excess fat off. I suggest using a metal strainer. Fat is flavor but excess fat will leave your chili with a bad mouth feel and presentation. By straining off the excess fat your chili will not look oily but rather rich and delicious.
  5. To burn or not to burn? Of course you don’t want to burn your chili. I’m talking about that lingering burn. Maybe you want to add a little spice by using some ground chili powder, cayenne, fresh jalapenos, or habaneros. Or maybe you want to do the opposite. Either way be careful when adding spicy ingredients, most of the time a little goes a long way. If you are using fresh jalapenos, habaneros or other chilies use gloves when cutting them to prevent the spores from the peppers from getting into the tips of your fingers.  Secondly be sure to deseed the peppers,  which can help to reduce the heat that they give off. I suggest using a teaspoon to core the peppers of their seeds.
  6. Be patient. Cook your chili at low to medium heat for a long time. I suggest at least 5 hours, but don’t forget to continuously stir the chili to prevent the bottom of the pot from burning. Low and slow is the name of the game, it will allow all of the flavors to meld correctly and for the meat to slowly cook until it is most tender. Depending on the amount of chili your making often times a crock pot can be utilized for this lengthy cooking process
  7. Cook your chili ahead of time. This is an old chef’s secret…soup is always better on the second day, well so is chili. Cook your chili a day or two before and let it sit in your refrigerator before serving, this will further allow the flavors of the chili to continue to meld together. 
  8. Last but certainly not least be safe with your food. Be sure to properly cool your chili for refrigeration storage. The general rule is that you want your chili to come down to 70 F within two hours of removing it from the heat and to 41F within the next two hours before you store it in your refrigerator. A well calibrated thermometer is a chefs’ best friend. Use an ice bath; placing the pot in a sink full of ice or transfer your chili into a lengthy shallow container so that there is more surface area to cool down the hot chili quickly. And of course don’t forget to always wash your hands before and after handling raw meat.