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Crock Pot Perfection: Our Recommended Spices for Chili

spices for chiliOh slow cooker, how we love thee…Can we get an “amen”?

You have to admit, there’s nothing better than coming home after a long day to an already-prepared homemade meal that your family can devour right this minute. Not only that, but its heavenly aromas are also currently permeating every crevice of your home with its home-cooked, savory goodness. Nothing quite makes you feel like more of a domestic god or goddess.

And let’s not forget about the crock pot’s currently trending and much more stylish cousin, the instant pot. Done in a flash while retaining all of the juice and flavor of a traditional slow cooker meal. These are hot right now, and for good reason.

When it comes to crock pot and instant pot meals, one of our favorites is chili. Its hearty, warm deliciousness is hard to beat, and it’s also quite simple to prepare. But we’ve got a few tips that will take your chili from standard to superior with the addition of some simple spices for chili.

Urfa Biber

Instead of traditional chili peppers, why not try something a little more spicy and non-traditional? We suggest using Urfa Biber chili flakes. The curing process of this Turkish chili leaves a high moisture content and encourages complex smoky flavors of rich chocolate, roasted coffee, and tangy raisins. Not only is Urfa Biber recommended for taking your crockpot chili to a whole new level, it’s also tasty raw, sprinkled over pungent cheeses or cooked into sauces for braised meats. These chilies even taste good on ice cream!

Cumin

There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it: cumin is a must when it comes to delicious chili creation. The aromatic seeds of a plant in the parsley family, cumin is typical in many spice blends and is a staple spice in many cuisines, especially Mexican, Indian, African, and Asian. It has a very distinctive flavor with an earthy, nutty, spicy taste that has bitter undertones and a warm aroma, and it’s utterly delectable when added to chili. Luckily, we carry both ground cumin and whole seed cumin.

Chocolate or Cinnamon

Another way to give your chili a flavor boost is by adding chocolate or cinnamon. You heard us right: chocolate or cinnamon. Try picking one of these to add with your traditional spices into your next batch of chili: 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon, 1 whole cinnamon stick, or 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder. Or try adding a few squares of good-quality dark chocolate along with the tomatoes and let them melt slowly into the chili.

Harissa or Berbere

To bring a more exotic flair to the table, try harissa or berbere. Described as “Tunisia’s main condiment,” harissa is commonly used in Northern Africa to flavor stews, soups, and couscous. Most standard harissas include a blend of hot chile peppers, garlic, olive oil, cumin, coriander, caraway, and mint. Berbere is an Ethiopian spice mixture that is the flavor foundation of Ethiopian cuisine, a basic ingredient in Dabo Kolo, Doro Wat, and many other dishes. It’s a spice mixture whose constituent elements usually include chili peppers, garlic, ginger, basil, korarima, rue, ajwain or radhuni, nigella, and fenugreek.

So the next time your crock pot or instant pot chili night rolls around, go with a less traditional spin by utilizing some of our recommended spices for chili. Or swing on by the Old Town Spice Shop, a local independent Fort Collins Spice Shop, located at 130A S. College Ave. in Old Town Fort Collins. We could chat about spices all day. Let us know what spice questions you have. We’re always happy to help!

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