Today’s cooking tip: brown it right!

Chili meat covered - 004

Sure, I could be talking about the budgets, health care, Afghanistan or lots of other things.  But aren’t you sick of hearing about it?  I am, so I’m making a big batch of chili.  I’m not going to tell you how to make it because everybody thinks they already know (and a few actually do.)  But I will tell you how to make it better — and this applies not only to chili, but to a lot of other things that start out with browning ground beef or pork.

The thing is, most people see a recipe that says “Brown one pound of ground beef” and they think that’s just something you have to do in order to get to the real preparation.  They’ll throw it in the microwave, get someone else to do it or try  just about anything else to get that part of it over with so they can move things along.  That can be a mistake because you’re talking about one of the key ingredients in your recipe and doing an extra good job is one of the things that will allow you to move from mediocre to excellent.

I make big batches of chili with about four pounds of meat.  When I brown the meat, I do it with a covered pan and lots of chili spices.  The cover keeps the liquids in so the spices flow through the meat while it browns, infusing it with great flavor.  Having the meat add in extra flavor to your recipe this way instead of  having to draw it from the other ingredients fuses things together more effectively and it can make a big difference in the finished chili.  (Yes, you’ll end up with more liquid at the end of the process to pour off or strain out unless you finish it uncovered to steam some of it away.  Either way, it’s no big deal.)

If you haven’t been doing things this way for chili, pizza toppings and other dishes that call for browned ground meat, start giving it a shot and see if it doesn’t create a night and day difference in your finished product.


One Response to “Today’s cooking tip: brown it right!”

  1. andrew rosenberg Says:

    now that’s the spirit…life is too short not to brown your hamburger or any other meat, spice or vegetable. i like to go so far as calling this the basis of any flavorful recipe. for chili I toast whole spices, cumin and coriander, roast and skin peppers, caramelize onions, and brown meats to achieve and enhance their natural flavor. I’ve been accused of making simple dishes too labor intensive, but giving a little color to meat is necessary for a complete flavor profile.

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