Elevating Everyday Chili

 Photograph by Aaron Graubart

1. Use Low-Heat Chili Peppers
You can’t have chili without intense pepper flavor, but you can’t taste anything at all if your mouth is on fire. The trick lies in big volumes of low-heat chilies. “We use anchos and guajillos,” says Schuchman. “The guajillos have a sweet quality, and the anchos bring earthy, warm notes.” Other good choices include dried New Mexico chilies and dried California chilies, also known as Anaheims.

2. Don’t Cheap Out on the Meat
Chili is, in essence, a slow-cooking braise. To come out the other side falling-apart tender, you want meats with high-enough collagen content. Short ribs, beef cheek, brisket, and tri-tip are all terrific choices, with ground chuck adding depth and texture. Stay away from cuts like filet mignon, flank, or sirloin.

3. Make Your Own Beef Stock
Here’s how to make 7 quarts of stock.

• 5 lb beef bones 
• 1 carrot
• 1 onion 
• 1 leek 
• 1 bunch thyme 
• 1 bunch parsley 
• 6 oz tomato paste

Place bones on a baking sheet in a 400° oven. After 20 minutes, add carrot, onion, and leek. Roast for 20 minutes, then place the bones in a large pot and cover with 8 quarts cold water. Place over a medium-low flame, and bring to a simmer over the course of an hour. Skim off any scum rising to the surface, add the vegetables, thyme, parsley, and tomato paste, and simmer for 5 hours. Set a fine-mesh strainer on top of an empty pot alongside the stockpot and, using a ladle, transfer the stock. Refrigerate overnight to congeal all the fat (so it’s easy to remove), and then use or freeze it.