Expert Tips for Making the Perfect Bowl of Chili 

Hint: It's all about the seasoning. 

A hearty bowl of chili is synonymous with late fall nights, football, and, frankly, pure happiness. But it’s also a divisive dish that can differ greatly depending on region and family preference.

On this week’s episode of “Thing’s Cooks Know,” hosts Sarah Collins and Sarah Karnasiewicz discuss how to define chili, the differences between Texas- and Cincinnati-style, and the trick for making chili any crowd will enjoy.

Here, a few tips from Karnasiewicz, RealSimple.com food editor:

1. The spice blend is crucial: Spices create the depth of savory flavor expected from a chili. Use anything from ground chili and garlic to cinnamon and chocolate, then simmer and braise the ingredients. And remember—season early and often.

2. The slow cooker is your friend: Almost any chili recipe can be adapted for the slow cooker, which is great for busy cooks who don’t have hours to spend standing by the stove. Brown the meat before adding it to the slow cooker, then par-cook the veggies in the rendered fat from the meat.

3. Chicken chili needs fat, too: Be sure to add dark meat (such as chicken thighs) to chicken chili—using all white meat won't give it enough fat. The fat carries the flavor and gives chili its luscious texture. Be heavy-handed with seasonings in white chili, too, and incorporate a variety of beans to add creaminess and bite.

4. Re-purpose your chili all week: Chili doesn't have to take the form of bowl and spoon. Make chili dogs, have a taco night, or eat it for breakfast with eggs on top. Toss it with pasta and top with sliced eggplant and parmesan, or serve on top of baked potatoes. The possibilities are endless.

For more tips, listen to the full episode. Don't forget to review and subscribe on iTunes!