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Please give input on my chilli recipe

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 
I’m overhauling my mother’s old chilli recipe and want your opinion on my thoughts on the following recipe. I’m trying for a chilli with a little heat, but not so much that people will complain. At the same time I want to pack it with flavor. I do want to taste the peppery flavor of the peppers/chilies in the sauce itself. Keep in mind that I’m not used to measuring the amount of onions, and spices when I cooked the original, and so have guessed at the right amounts. I also am not a fan of sweet chilli, or spaghetti for that matter, so keep in mind I’m not going for sweet at all. Thank you for your time, and input.


1: Render 3 pieces of thick cut bacon diced into small pieces (I’m guessing as to the amount of bacon will give me the right amount of fat)


2: Remove browned bacon bits, and sweat
  • ½ cup of diced yellow onions (wonder if I should make this a cup, but 2 cups of onions is a lot)
  • ½ cup of diced red onions (wonder if I should make this a cup, but 2 cups of onions is a lot. I usually use only yellow onions)
  • 2 cloves of diced garlic (almost made this 4 cloves)
  • 1 seeded and diced jalapeno (for a bit of heat and peppery flavor)

3: Brown with the vegetables
  • 1 lb pork sausage
  • 1 lb ground beef

4: Pour in
  • 2 cans of drained and rinsed dark red kidney beans
  • 2 cans of tomato paste (In the original version I used only one, but used tomato juice instead on beef broth. Is this a bit much? I like a thicker chilli)
  • 1 roasted, seeded, and puree Pablano (this is to give the whole chilli a peppery flavor without making it too spicy)
  • 64 oz. of beef broth (in the original version I used tomato juice, is beef broth going to work okay?)

5: Season with (I usually don’t measure what I put in the pot so I guessed as to the general amount. Some of the spices are new so I have no reference as to how much I should use. Suggestions and input would be appreciated)
  • ½ tbs fresh ground black pepper (I really like fresh ground black pepper and want to put more in. Is this too much?)
  • ½ tbs kosher salt
  • ¼ tbs crushed red pepper flakes (for a touch of heat)
  • 4 tbs chili powder (I usually put a lot in, guessing as to the general amount)
  • ½ tbs cayenne pepper (don’t want to overdo this, but adds a little punch)
  • ½ tbs ground cumin (sounds good to me)
  • 1 tbs onion powder (standard ingredient)
  • 1 tbs garlic powder (standard ingredient)
  • 1 tbs smoked paprika (new to me but I want to get a touch of smoky flavor with it)
  • 1 tbs yellow mustard powder (for a bit of twang and punch, not sure it this will taste good though.)
6: Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for 1-2 hours; stirring every 10-15 minutes.

7: Get a bowl, and garnish with your cheese, and crackers of choice. The bacon bit go on my chilli, so to bad for you. HA! HA!
post #2 of 24
Sub the ground meats with hand chopped beef chuck and pork steak(or pork butt). The beef stock makes for a less tomato chili which is what I like. The mustard may add something but I have found that vinegar in chili is sorta off.

I use:
2 pounds hand chopped chuck browned in bacon fat
1 large onion
2-4 cloves of garlic
3 ounces store bought chili powder (a blend of 8 different peppers and mexican oregano)
12 ounces tomato sauce
Beef stock to cover
salt to taste
4 tablespoons of my homemade chili powder

I serve pinto beans on the side for those that like them but I usually don't put them in the chili.
post #3 of 24
Sub the ground meats with hand chopped beef chuck and pork steak(or pork butt). The beef stock makes for a less tomato chili which is what I like. The mustard may add something but I have found that vinegar in chili is sorta off.

I use:
2 pounds hand chopped chuck browned in bacon fat
1 large onion
2-4 cloves of garlic
3 ounces store bought chili powder
12 ounces tomato sauce
Beef stock to cover
salt to taste
4 tablespoons of my homemade chili powder(a blend of 8 different peppers and mexican oregano)

I serve pinto beans on the side for those that like them but I usually don't put them in the chili.
post #4 of 24
You've got lots of issues in that recipe as I see it.

Meats as MaryB pointed out, use chunks. And pork sausage? what kind? So many would be so wrong in chili. Chorizo, the real mexican kind can be part of a good flavor meat base for chili, but it won't provide much texture.

Second, your recipe needs to be cooked in a better order to bring out flavors properly.

Cook meats first. If you try to cook them wtih the vegies, they just steam and don't brown properly for full flavor development.

After cooking the meat, bloom the cumin and chili powder and dried chiles in the fat from the meat. Then add the vegetables. Use more onion and garlic.

Drop the onion powder and garlice powder. They don't have as much flavor or texture as the real thing and the chili powder already has plenty of those ingredients in it.

Don't use tomato paste. It won't taste good in how it's being cooked. In fact tomatoes and beans are debatable in a real texas chili. That kind of chili gets all of the redness from the dried and fresh chiles used. No tomatoes, no beans. But I do like tomatoes and beans in my chili and it seems you do too. Crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce and such are fine. I prefer the more textured input of crushed tomatoes over sauce.

There is no good tasting canned beef broth or aseptically boxed beef broth. Don't use it. Many recipes use a dark beer. Water is common. If you want a meat stock, make your own for best flavor, or some bases are OK. More than Gourmet makes good bases, but it's hard to find and very pricey. On a more consumer level, Better than Bouillon is decent and not too salty and easy to find.

Your spice measurements are odd, all in tablespoons. The red pepper flakes, 1/4 tablespoon is not a standard measure at all. That's closer to a scant teaspoon. I think you'd be better off with a pure ground dried chile than red pepper flakes. New Mexico or California dried ground chiles are easily found in the mexican aisle of your grocer and will give a more nuanced flavor and better color.

The salt depends on your other ingredients, particularly your stock. The amount of chili powder varies with the brand. I have a no-salt powder that is particularly hot for example. Also different brands have different flavor. Lots of people swear by Gebhards, a Texas brand. Some taste testing in a cooking magazine yielded top marks in McCormicks brand.

Drop the onion and garlic powders and use the real fresh ingredient. Better flavor, more texture.

Don't use kidney beans. They're too big and give the wrong texture to the chili. Pinto beans or even red beans are better. Do not use the goo the beans are canned in. Rinse them off. Best would be to cook your own beans. It's useful to puree some of the beans to adjust your final thickness.

Also consider adding some dried masa harina to your chili at the end. It adds a sublte corn/southwest flavor when used in small amounts.

Phil
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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post #5 of 24
My own chile aesthetic is very similar to Phil's and Mary's, but...

Or should is say BUT...?

It seems you're attempting to tweak a recipe you like a lot. I'm not about to get in between you and what you like. You like it, and that's good enough for me. In order to help you get to where you want to go from where you're starting ... would it be possible for you to post your Mom's recipe as originally written? And also, write in words -- rather than in ingredients or amounts -- in what ways you'd like to change it? I gather you're looking for a little more heat and more boldness generally. But, I'd like to hear you say it.

Off the top of my head:

1) Way too much tomato paste: You're operating under the assumption that since paste provides some structure, more paste will provide more structure. Nope. Also, there are better ways to handle paste -- from a technical cooking standpoint -- then you've done. The best way to thicken your chili is with a flour or masa slurry. We can talk more about that later.

2) Way too much dry mustard: The amount you have will take over the whole 1/2 gallon.

3) Onions -- 2 cups isn't that much: If you like lots of onion, use lots of onion. I'd suggest 1-1/2 cups, but that's me. The red onions won't do what you think they will when cooked into the chile, use brown (aka yellow aka "Spanish"). Chop some red onions and use them raw for garnish. Then they'll taste great.

4) Jalapeno -- One peeled and seeded jalapeno is NOTHING: You'll want more chili than this. On the other hand, your Mom probably didn't use any. For this purpose, I'd suggest using canned, chopped jalapenos. Start with 2 tbs, then if you want more add more as you near the end of the simmer. Another thought is to use canned Chipotles en Adobo which will add the smokiness you wanted from the smoked paprika. The adobo itself which is a paste with a lot of good seasonings like garlic and Mexican oregano, will also help. Watch your spice levels. It's easy to add more, but darn difficult to take it out.

5) The term "chili powder" can mean a lot of things: Sometimes it's a spice blend and sometimes it's just powdered chilis. Without knowing what you plan to use it's hard to judge your flavor profile.

6) Sequence: As Phil said your sequence is very unusual. Still, I'd like to see the recipe you like before I try and force something completely different on you. Let's just stick with goosing Mom's for the time being.

Let me know,
BDL
post #6 of 24
Just some termiinology standardization. (I'm a technical writer, I can't help it.) While these rules aren't widely acknowledged, I find it useful partciularly when discussing chili.

Chili with the i at the end is the meat stew.

Chili powder with the i at the end is the spice blend commonly used in making chili. For reference, this usually has a dried ground chile powder (see below), salt, oregano, cumin and powdered garlic. Those are the 5 basic ingredients though some branch out from there.

Chile with an e at the end refers to the vegetable whether fresh, dried, or ground. So when I say chile powder, i mean a powder made from dried gound chile pods and only dried ground chile pods

Phil
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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post #7 of 24
add a tsp of coco powder unsweeten and touch of peanut butter.I also use
a few slices of galanga root
post #8 of 24
Some good advice, probably more than you bargained for! I used to frequent a chili forum, http://letstalkchili.com but it isn't that active anymore. Still might be worth poking around a bit for some tips and hints. There was one funny story about a person who had some unwanted help from household pets while trying to make a batch. Cute.

Sounds to me like what you are making is what I call Cincinati chili. Not one of my favorite styles but what a lot of people think of when you mention 'chili'

I'll concur that you should brown the meat first, seperately from the veggies. Or you can sweat the veggies ( more onion won't hurt in my opinion ) remove them from the pot, then crank up the heat to brown the meat and toss the veggies back in once the meat is browned, then add your liquids, aromatics, etc.

Actually if you want to get adventurous and have the time, you can try this. Get several pounds of beef back ribs. These are the large, mostly bone and fat ribs that are usually quite cheap. Cut apart the ribs and stack in your biggest oven proof stock pot, dutch oven, turkey roaster or whatever. The amount of ribs you should purchase may depend on the size of your pot. Stick in a 450 F oven for about 45 minutes, give or take.

The kitchen should start smelling really good and a lot of the fat should be rendered out after the 45 minutes or so. Remove the HOT pot from the oven, and CAREFULLY pour off the fat from the HOT pot. Oh, did I mention that the pot and fat will be HOT? You may want to save the beef fat, especially if you like home fries with your beakfast, but that's a different thread.

Anyway, once the excess fat has been removed from the pot, cover the ribs with cold water, set it on your biggest burner and bring to a boil. As soon as it starts boiling, back off the heat so it is barely simmering. A lid is nice, but if you don't have one to fit that pot keep an eye on the water level, and have a quart or two of hot water ready to use for topping off to keep the bones under water. Skim the stock frequently during the first 30 - 40 minutes or so, you can relax a bit during the next hour or so, skimming just once in a while.

After about two hours of simmering, remove the ribs from the pot, letting them cool a bit on a cookie sheet, large platter or some such. Depending on the meatiness of the ribs there may be enough beef on them for the batch. If not, brown a sufficient quantity of the beef of your choice to make up the difference. I'll also add a vote for a coarser grind on the meat.

So after all this, which is simpler than it sounds, you should end up with a pot of liquid for your chili, and when the bones are cool enough to handle pick off the good stuff. Then carry on with your recipe.

mjb.
Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
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post #9 of 24
Thread Starter 
I must appologize for my tardiness in my reply. My internet at home was lost and I currently have to rely on occasional access at work as well as the public library for access to the internet.


I would like to thank all of you for your help, and as requested have additional information.


I'm looking for more boldness in the recipe, but only a mild heat combined with a peppery/chile flavor to give it a pleasant flavor. I however do not like the corn-like flavor of masa in my chilli at all. I find the flavor unpalatable in chilli. I also am not a fan of chocolate, coco powder, or peanut butter in my chilli. Though I know a lot of people do like these flavors in their chilli.


When I use the term “chilli powder” I'm speaking of a spice blend. Tips on making my own blend would be nice as well.


To my knowledge my mother recipe has never been written down, but I will provide it for you below. I know from learning about food that there is a lot more flavor opportunities in the recipe. That is why I want to upgrade it.


Brown 2 pounds of ground beef (sometime this is part sausage) with between ½ - ¾ cups of diced yellow onion. Add pinch of salt, some black pepper (I've been trying to turn my parents on to fresh ground black pepper, but they usually use canned pre-ground pepper), onion powder, and garlic powder. When the meat is browned dump in one 12 oz can of tomato paste, about 50 oz of tomato juice, and two cans of dark red kidney beans with their juice. Add chilli powder by eye (I'm guessing between 2-4 tbs based on mood), garlic powder (guessing 1 tsp), onion powder (guessing 1tsp), a bit of cumin (guessing ½ tsp). The cumin is not always added. Salt and pepper to taste. Sometimes a jalapeno is added when the onion goes in, but this is usually only when they are available.
post #10 of 24
Boldness, but with mild heat.

The earlier comments still apply as to sequence and technique. No tomato paste and skip the powdered onions and garlic.

As I noted before, the signature flavors of chili powder are salt, garlic powder, cumin, dried ground chile and oregano. The big three there are cumin, dried chile and garlic and that's where I'd focus for boldness.

First up the onions. Onions and garlic are related plants. They have complementary flavors. A yellow onion is preferred for distinct flavor. They'll cook down in size quite a bit and mellow out some, but they add a lot of flavor. Don't be afraid to use plenty.

Also up the garlic, probably beyond 4 cloves. It too will become more mild as it cooks, but it adds lots of flavor.

Cumin is probably the most distinctive flavor note of chili. It has a warm spicyness without actually being hot and spicy. It's flavor improves when it is toasted a bit in the pan without liquids. But do use some oil or fat with ground cumin. Same for dried chile powder.

Dried ground chile will provide lots of the heat and chile flavor. Dried ground California chile is fairly mild but with a full flavor. It too benefits from some toasting in a pan without liquid. Use this in varying amounts to set the heat.

Use fresh jalapenos to create the characteristic sharpness of spicy heat.

As you're looking for a particular balance of flavors, it's difficult to quantify specific amounts.

Phil
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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post #11 of 24
Most commercial chili powders contain ground ancho. Using more can boost the flavor or use small amounts of other dried chili pods. Chipotle will add some smoky background and not a lot of heat. Replace some of the tomato juice with beef stock for a richer meat flavor.
post #12 of 24
Comments from a long-time chilihead:

Definitely cube the meat; much nicer texture. If the chosen cut is appropriate, I ask the butcher to slice it into 1/4" slices and then I cross-cut it into cubes. I don't have the nerve to ask the butcher to do that cutting.

LOTS more garlic.:bounce:

Get ahold of some Gebhardt's Chili Powder. It's been used in most of the winning entries at the Terlingua Internationall Chili Cookoff, which we attended in 2000. (Spectators, not entrants.) The standard price is $4 for a 3-oz bottle. We got some last time we were in Lubbock, and the first chili batch was awesome. You'll have to shop around on the web (unless you live in Texas,) but try to find a source which doesn't stick you for a lot of shipping cost.

We use beans, which is verboten in competition chili (like ketchup on Chicago hotdogs.)

I'm going to use the roasted-beef-ribs and beef-broth approach, above, for our next batch, when the weather turns a bit cooler. With the Gebhardt's.

Mike :chef:
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post #13 of 24
All the places in Salt Lake that I know of which had real Chicago dogs have closed down. Guess I wasn't eating enough of them, drat.

And I was thinking the roasted bones and broth approach which I've only used for beef based chili so far could also work with pork, spareribs most likely. Sure, it is in the 90s here now, but there will probably be a dusting of snow on the hills above town in 4 - 5 weeks, a good excuse for a big pot of chili.

mjb.
Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
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post #14 of 24
Ramlatus,

I agree with Phil (Phatch) as to almost everything. Let me nail down a few details.

You have to ask yourself if you want to stay with your Mom's type of chili -- ground beef, beans, fairly mild -- or move up to a more western, Texas or California style type of dish? There's no reason you can't have both types in your repertoire.

As to the meat -- I prefer cutting chunks, but I'm not here to convert you. You can use pork sausage if you want, but most people use "sausage grind" pork. Sausage grind is coarser and chunkier than regular grind. Similarly, a real butcher will let you order "chili grind" on the beef -- which is the same thing. Of course, at the supermarket you're kind of stuck with what they have.

As to sequence: There's a particular order to the initial steps that are common to nearly all of these types of stews, which includes curries too by the way.

1. Brown the meat
2. Add the onions and cook until transparent ans softened (in some stews you remove the meat, brown the onions and return the meat to the pan, but here you can just add them to the meat)
3. Add the garlic and the chili powder. It's important not to overcook the garlic because it becomes bitter -- so it's nice to have a little liquid in the pan. The chili powder must be cooked before all the liquid goes in or it won't marry the other ingredients. Leave the chili undersalted.
4. Add the tomato paste (if using). Tomato paste also should be cooked before diluting it substantially. You're using it to structure the gravy -- which is a good thing. You're using waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too much though. A small 3 oz can is more than enough. Cook it until the color starts to darken before adding the liquids.
5. Add the liquids (and beans) to just cover the meat (you were adding waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too much), and cook as long as you like. Mom's recipe had 3 or 4 times more liquid than it should have unless she was makig "Vaguely Chili Soup." Cutting down on the liquids and tomato paste will help you more than you can believe.
6. Thicken with a flour or masa slurry after the tastes are fully blended, then cook a little more until it's come together just the way you want it. Adjust for salt.

The meat - aromatics (onion, etc.) - major spices - before the liquids thing is something you should try and remember for all stews and braises. Do it different and they don't come together.

Cut down on the amount of liquid unless you're making soup. No wonder you wanted to use so much tomato paste. Just to cover -- then thicken if you have to.

Speaking of tomato paste -- if you cut your onions very thin, they'll dissolve as you cook them and help structure the sacue as well.

A "slurry" is two parts water mixed very smooth with one part flour. Add it a couple of tablespoons at a time, and give it a few minutes at a fast simmer to see how much it thickened before adding more.

If at all possible, toast whole cumin seed and grind them yourself just before making the chili. Huge difference. I think Phil implied this.

As I said, I'm not trying to change your Mom's recipe as much as help you learn to cook it -- so you can change it yourself. And I'm certainly not trying to convert you to the kind of chili I like. But, you really ought to google some chili recipes to see what's out there -- especially the kinds without beans. Like most westerners, I love chili and I love beans -- but not in the same bowl.

There are chili powder recipes all over the net -- most of them basically the same. Just google "chili powder recipe" and split the difference on the first four or five that look similar. You'll be fine.

Jalapenos can be very quirky as to how hot any individual pepper is. I'm a "chili head" and don't think jalapenos are hot at all -- but occasionally even I get one that gets a fire lit. Don't make your chili too hot. Serve minced jalapeno along side, and/or hot sauce. Letting your friends and family hurt themselves is fun. Hurting them is guilt inducing. You choose.

Good luck,
BDL
post #15 of 24
As pointed out earlier, you might look into Cincinnati chili too. The authentic versions are too heavy on cinnamon for my taste, but the concept is very good.

quoting Wikipedia (aaggh, KissTC will now mock me forever!)
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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post #16 of 24
I'd heard so much about Cincinnatti Chile that we went well out of our way on a trip to go into downtown Cincy and try it for ourselves at Skyline, apparently the leading purveyor of the dish.

It turned out to be soggy, overcooked spaghetti in a puddle of watery sauce, covered with a ground beef chili of no distinction whatever, plus chopped onions (the onions weren't bad, actually) and some grated, nothing orange cheese.

The whole thing wasn't much above room temperature.

We will not be visiting Cincinnatti again any time soon, at least not for chili.

If it was well-executed with quality ingredients, it sounds like a fairly nice combo.

Mike :mad:
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post #17 of 24
Something I've been doing for quite a while is to rinse the ground meat through a colander with hot water to get rid of the grease. Makes it a little leaner without a greast slick floating on the top.

I also add 1/4 tsp or so of cinnamon (I love the Penzey's Vietnamese) for an underlayer of flavor.
post #18 of 24
Cinnamon in chili is just wrong to me. I prefer something closer to Texas chili. The Mom's original recipe sounds like typical Midwest, very little spice and way to much tomato. It resembles a hamburger/tomato soup more than chili.

I brown my beef in some of the fat I end up with after cubing the chuck. Render it down and remove the crispy bits. If I don't have enough fat I use bacon to add on.
post #19 of 24
Thread Starter 

Some results

Okay everyone here is what I've come up with so far, with all of your help of course.


Render 3-4 pieces of diced bacon in your chili pot, and then remove the bacon pieces. Sweat 2 small to medium diced yellow onions, 4 or more cloves of minced garlic cloves, 1 minced seeded jalapeno and then remove the softened vegetables. Brown 1 lb of course ground beef (chili grind) and 1 lb of course ground pork (chili grind) and then add the vegetables back into the pot. Put in 4 tbs of chili powder blend, 1 tsp Cayenne pepper, 1 tsp of ground Ancho chiles and bloom them. Add 2 cans of drained and rinsed dark red kidney beans, one 12oz can of tomato sauce, and beef base liquid until it covers everything in the pot. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 1-2 hours salting to taste.


The chili powder I'm planning on using is 3 parts chipotle (cayenne for a hotter version), 1 part garlic powder, 1 part black pepper, 2 part cumin. Does this sound anything close to good?


Now the I’m getting close to honing the recipe by cooking it and making changes.
post #20 of 24
Mexican oregano is a must. Start at a tsp and add to taste.
post #21 of 24
Add the cayenne and ancho and bloom the spices before adding the meat.

Definitely use Mexican oregano as Mary suggests. Mexican oregano, Lippia graveolens, has a different flavor profile than Greek, or Mediterannean (sp?) oregano.
shel
post #22 of 24
Do the vegetables after the meat so they release the meat's fond from the pan, essentially deglaing it. Lots of good meat flavor left in the pan otherwise.

Phil
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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post #23 of 24
Oh, well played sir. Well played. You've got the sequence.

You're not only right about beginning the deglaze, BUT (BIG HUGE BUT) the meat won't properly brown if it goes in after the vegetables. Why? Because the vegetables sweat and release too much moisture which interferes with the chemical reaction that is meat browning.

Ideally, she should take the meat out, refresh the oil, and cook the aromatics on the fond -- but most folks just throw them on top of the meat -- especially if the meat is ground rather than diced.

Speaking of well played -- Mary hit it with Mexican oregano. It ain't "red" without Mexican oregano to offset the chili and cumin.

BDL
post #24 of 24
Well, that depends. If you do your browning and sweating in a seperate pan, yes. If you do it in the same pot that the whole batch goes into, nothing gets left behind. I may have been the one in this thread who said it was okay to do the veggies first, then the meat. Last night while fixing dinner which involved browning chunks of chicken breast then doing some veggies I was thinking that I always do the meat first. So do what I do, not what I say :)

As for browning, relax. It can be tempting to always be fussing about and stirring things around, but let it be. Give the meat time to form a nice crust, then shuffle it about to crust up another side, leave it alone for a while to crust up that side, and so on until the bits are nicely browned on all sides. Do it in batches if needed, crowding the meat will hinder the release of moisture, steaming or braising it instead of browning it.

Using tongs instead of a spoon or a spatula can be helpful in getting all the pieces on the proper side at the proper time, at least when dealing with cubes. For ground meats, it isn't as much of a concern, though non-crowding and non-fussing still apply.

mjb.
Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
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