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Martha Stewart’s Chili Gets Its Rich, Bold Flavor From This One Secret Ingredient

I grew up eating canned Hormel chili with beans, and I just assumed that’s what everyone else was eating too. When I heard of chili competitions it just confused me – were there other brands of canned chili or something? The first time I had real chili, made from scratch with plenty of beef, nuanced spices, and a thick, rich sauce, I realized what I had been missing. But making chili from scratch can be a long and complicated affair. So when we saw Martha Stewart’s Easy Beef Chili recipe, which calls for a secret, flavor-deepening ingredient that makes quick work of cooking up this classic dish, we knew we had to try it.

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Getting the depth of flavor you’d find in a competition chili at home is hard, but Stewart’s secret ingredient acts as a shortcut. She uses Dutch-process cocoa powder to add an earthy, smoky flavor to her chili. You won’t taste “chocolate” when you take a bite of this chili – it melds perfectly with the other ingredients. It’s just enough to make you wonder what it is about this recipe that tastes so much better than the bland, watery versions you may have been churning out.

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Courtesy of Rodelle.

Rodelle Dutch Processed Baking Cocoa $9.49 Buy now

The other ingredients in the chili are fairly basic. Ground beef, onions, garlic, and jalapeno form the base of the chili, while cocoa powder, chili powder, broth and tomatoes make up the sauce.

Almost everyone has chili powder in their cupboards, but you can also amp up this recipe by using a combination of chili powders to boost the flavor. Chipotle chile powder, Kashmiri chili powder, Aleppo pepper, and Korean gochugaru all add their own character to a pot of chili. Try using 1 tablespoon of regular “chili powder,” and 1 tablespoon of a different dried chili powder to experiment with different flavor.

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Courtesy of McCormick.

McCormick Chili Powder $4.49 Buy now

You’ll wind up with a pot of hearty, spiced, complex chili that’s perfect for cold autumn and winter nights, and it comes together in less than an hour.

Before you go, check out our slideshow below:

Watch: We Tried Ina Garten’s Overnight Mac & Cheese & We Totally Get Why It Broke the Internet

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