For Thicker Chili, Add Shredded Tortillas

For some people, the mark of good chili is if you can stand your spoon up in it. Because chili is typically slow-cooked, it naturally thickens as the liquid evaporates and starches from beans or vegetables are released. Yet, for one reason or another, sometimes, things don't turn out like you planned. If you find yourself with thin chili and want a quick fix to thicken it, try giving it the tortilla treatment.

While some people use cornmeal to thicken watery chili, you can just as easily tear up some tortillas and toss them in the pot. As the saturated tortillas break down and lose their form, they absorb some of the liquid, and the starch from the corn flour simultaneously works as a thickening agent. Stale or broken pieces of tortilla chips will have the same effect. Stir the tortilla bits into the broth, simmer for 10 minutes, and watch your chili transform.

Tortillas make chili more dimensional

While shredded tortillas thicken the chili, they also affect the taste and texture. As with cornmeal, corn tortillas and tortilla chips add a kick of flavor, bringing a sweet, earthy quality that complements the boldness of onion, pepper, and tomato. These flavors can be further elevated by toasting the tortillas before adding them to the soup for a rich caramelized taste.

As much as the tortillas break down in the chili, they still leave behind crumbs that make for a much heartier mouthfeel. While some people enjoy the grainy texture, this can be avoided by blending the tortillas into a slurry before adding them to the pot. To do this, soak a few tortillas in a separate bowl of chili broth before adding the whole ensemble to the food processor and blending it until smooth. The enhanced broth can then be reintegrated into the chili for all the thickness without a grainy texture.