Spicy, smoky, meaty or mellow - how do you like your chili?
Just in time for Super Bowl, Esquire asked chefs at the New York ChiliFest 2011 what their secrets are to making a delicious bowl.
Meat-lovers recommend adding ham hocks, smoked short ribs or smoked brisket. According to Josh Sharkey of Bark Hot Dogs, you can't go wrong with adding smoked bacon.
Jim Lahey of Co. advises against using tomato paste, and to try roasted poblano peppers, some stock, red wine and bay leaves instead. Meanwhile, Chris Parachini of Roberta's says to forego chili powder in favour of using fresh herbs, like coriander, for a floral, lighter flavour.
Julian Medina of Toloache says to use just meat, no beans, then add garlic, ginger, some Korean bulgogi sauce and a couple bottles of Negra Modelo. However, Alex Raij of Txikito says if you're going to use beans, make sure you use really good quality ones.
Chefs agree the key is to build layers of flavour and let the ingredients simmer. And however you like it, don't get too finicky with the recipe; this is one comfort dish that shouldn't be fancy.
"Keep it simple," says Dave Townsend of Brookvin. "Chili should taste like chili, nothing else."
What's your chili secret?