Season 17, Episode 8 Recap: How to Make the Best Ground Beef Chili

Lose the stale, old store-bought chili powder and make your own blend.

Published Feb. 27, 2017.

Julia Collin Davison and Bridget Lancaster channel Rodney Dangerfield to begin the episode, noting that ground beef chili gets no respect from the rest of the chili world. Adam Ried explains what distinguishes a good food processor from a bad food processor, and new cast member Erin McMurrer cooks a simple yet elegant Red Lentil Soup with North African Spices.

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Host Julia Collin Davison shows host Bridget Lancaster how to make the Best Ground Beef Chili. Next, equipment expert Adam Ried reviews food processors in the Equipment Corner. Finally, test cook Erin McMurrer uncovers the secrets to the ultimate Red Lentil Soup with North African Spices.  
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Five Takeaways from the Episode

1. For the Best Ground Beef Chili, Lose the Stale Chili Powder and Reach for an Ancho: Ancho chili peppers are dried poblanos, and you can use them to make your own chili powder. Trust us: it’s easy, and it makes all the difference. Simply tear the peppers apart, discard of any seeds or woody stems, and toast them for 4 to 6 minutes in a Dutch oven. Add your toasted chili peppers to a food processor, along with some tortilla chips, ground cumin, ground paprika, garlic powder, ground coriander, dried oregano, ground black pepper, and dried thyme, and process for about two minutes. This mixture is a game changer. 

2. When Buying Dried Chili Peppers, Make Sure They’re Bendable: If they’re too dry it means they’re too old, and they’ll lack flavor. You opted not to use the prepackaged chili powder because it tastes stale—make sure the ancho chili peppers you choose don’t suffer from the same.

3. If You Don’t Have a Bench Scraper, You Should Buy One Immediately: Bench scrapers—not your chef’s knife—are the best way to move food (like chopped onions) from your cutting board to whatever skillet or pot you’re using on your stove. [Buy our winning bench scraper on Amazon]

4. The Key to a Good Food Processor is Pulse Control: Equipment tester extraordinaire Adam Ried cautions against buying a food processor that has blades that don’t stop spinning immediately after one removes their hand from the pulse button. An extra pulse or two can mean the difference between a perfect mirepoix and a vegetable slushie. Our favorite model stops the very second you want it to. [Buy our winning food processor on Amazon]

5. Lentils Come in a Rainbow of Colors: But did you know that red lentils are just brown lentils that have had their skins removed? Without their skins, red lentils are able to cook more quickly and break down to a creamy consistency that’s perfect for soup.

Quote of the Week: "If you’ve never cooked lentils before, red lentils are the lentils to start with. They’re the gateway lentil!” —Erin McMurrer, espousing the wonders of one her favorite lentil types

Can't wait for next week's episode? Get your fill with our past episode recaps:

And for more on food processors:

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