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Old 11-30-2019, 03:38 PM   #1
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Chemistry Lesson?

I make really good chili. I brown the beef in a large deep saute pan (usually in two batches to avoid crowding the pan), and mix the spices with the wet ingredients thoroughly. Then add a layer of beef followed by a layer of the wet ingredients, and then another layer of beef, etc. in a crock pot and cook high for 4 hours (or low for 6-8). Yum!

Earlier this week I made a batch, adding some tips I spied on the Net. That was to mix some water, salt, and baking soda, massaging it into the beef and sit for 20 minutes before browning. This was said to get more browning on the beef, and to better retain moisture. Another tip was to add the spices to the browned beef and continue heating/stirring to "wake the spices up". I did this all in 5qt dutch oven, then added the wet ingredients, brought back up to simmer for 30 minutes, and then finished uncovered in the oven for 2-3 hours instead of the crock pot.

It was lousy. Really greasy, and seriously missing acidity that is usually there in spades. And flat flavor compared to the crock pot method.

So... was it the pre-treating of the beef, cooking the spices with the beef, or the combination of the two? Just curious, as I will never use those "tips" again.
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Old 11-30-2019, 08:13 PM   #2
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The addition of the baking soda, an alkaline, would neutralize any acidity.
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Old 11-30-2019, 10:13 PM   #3
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I've seen ATK suggest adding baking soda to meat, to help it brown. Never tried it, but I do add a couple tb of vinegar to chili - something you might want to try, to help with the acidity. Or just go back to your old recipe!
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Old 12-01-2019, 01:09 PM   #4
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Omit the baking powder, as Andy said. He's right on target with that. Go ahead and add the herbs and spices, dried peppers, and chili powder included. as many of the flavors in those herbs and spices are fat soluble, and with flavor the natural oils. Then follow your normal chili recipe that you enjoy, One item that does enhance chili is a little unsweetened baking powder, It brings out the cili flavor by adding another depth of flavor. A little smoked paprika adds a smokey note to the chlli as well. When I think to, when I'm cooking burgers on My Webber charcoal Kettle, I'll cook about two pounds of extra burgers, let them cool, and break them up for future chili. The grilled meat then goes into freezer bags and into the freezer. This beef is great in chili as well. Lastly, ground beef for chili should be much more coarse than ground beef for hamburgers, or even beef chunks. And remember these two tips. They are priceless. When adding new flavors to your recipe, go slowly. You can always add more of something. But once it's in, you can't take it out. Second, If you like spicey-hot, remember, first make it taste great; then add as much heat as you wish. Once you get to know your peppers, you can use the peppers that provide both heat and flavor to your tastes. Some peppers are all flavor, with almost no heat, while others are all heat, with no flavor, and everything in between.

Last tip: Think aboout tipsgiven by others. Sometimes they are spot on, while other people give tips that are downright ludicrous. There are several people on DC that I trust to give good advice. Andy and I agree 98% of the time. But I've seen people do things that are wrong, because it's the way everyone before them did it.

Child: 'Mom, why do you cut the ends off of the ham before putting it in the roasting pan?'
mom: "Because that's what your Grandma does."
Child: "Grandma, why do you cut the ends off of the ham before putting it in the roasting pan?"
Grandma: "That's how your Great Grandna did it.:
Child: "Great Grandma, why do you cut the ends off of the ham before putting it into the roasting pan?"
Great Grandma: "Well child, the ham was just too big to fit into my roasting pan if I didn't cut the ends off."

Sometimes, we do things without thinking about what we are doing, simply because we saw someone else do it that way. I've seen celebrity chefs give just plain wrong info to their audience. None of us are born knowing anything. We have to learn everything. And over time, we develop the intuitive skills to be able to discriminate between good and bad info.

I've been cooking, and creating for over 40 years in my home, and I'm still learning new techniques. There is such a vast mountain of culinary info out there, that you can't learn it all, even in a lifetime. But you can learn enough to make great meals that you and you loved ones will enjoy, And that's what cooking is all about.

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Old 12-01-2019, 04:33 PM   #5
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it's necessary to keep baking soda and baking powder as separate things. they are not the same, altho huge numbers of people confuse them....


check out 'how to velvet beef' - it's primarily a tenderizing technique used in Asian/stir fry/ etc. one velvets with baking soda, and a couple other approaches not in the classical definitions.


the question, of course, , , , is why? it's a long slow wet cook and the beef should be browned before it goes into the 'tender to melting' long cook. for chili, I prefer small beef cubes, DW demands ground beef; we alternate.

but either way the beef is heavily browned/crusted before it ever sees the chili pot. liquids in the chili mix will "wash off" some of he browning, fear not a smidge of over sear.


I don't do slow cookers, I can't speak to the 'issues' that may arise.
I do the vegetables/seasonings in the pot used to brown the beef, add pre-soaked beans from dry, cook to beans done - adjust liquids on the fly, then add the seared beef about 30-45 minutes from 'time to eat'
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Old 12-01-2019, 07:21 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dcSaute View Post
it's necessary to keep baking soda and baking powder as separate things. they are not the same, altho huge numbers of people confuse them....


check out 'how to velvet beef' - it's primarily a tenderizing technique used in Asian/stir fry/ etc. one velvets with baking soda, and a couple other approaches not in the classical definitions.


the question, of course, , , , is why? it's a long slow wet cook and the beef should be browned before it goes into the 'tender to melting' long cook. for chili, I prefer small beef cubes, DW demands ground beef; we alternate.

but either way the beef is heavily browned/crusted before it ever sees the chili pot. liquids in the chili mix will "wash off" some of he browning, fear not a smidge of over sear.


I don't do slow cookers, I can't speak to the 'issues' that may arise.
I do the vegetables/seasonings in the pot used to brown the beef, add pre-soaked beans from dry, cook to beans done - adjust liquids on the fly, then add the seared beef about 30-45 minutes from 'time to eat'
I;ve never heard of using baking soda in the velveting process. The technique I learned, and have seen in every velveting tutorial I;ve seen involves a marinade of soy sauce, rice-wind vinager, onion, ginger, and cornstaarch. The meat is cubed or cut into thin strips, and placed into the marinade for about 20 minutes. It is then poached in oil or water until the marinad/slurry turns opaque. When the cornstarch has turned, the meat is removed, drained and set aside until it is time to put it into the dish that it will be used in.

The veveting process works equally well to tenderize, and produce a silky texture to poultry, pork, beef, lamb, goat, etc. Also, do you not put tomato products in your chili? The acid from the tomato would prevent the dried beans from softening.

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Old 12-02-2019, 11:49 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Chief Longwind Of The North View Post
I;ve never heard of using baking soda in the velveting process.

Seeeeeeya; Chief Longwind of the North

I have never heard of NOT using baking soda to velvet beef.
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Old 12-02-2019, 11:51 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ScottinPollock View Post
I make really good chili. I brown the beef in a large deep saute pan (usually in two batches to avoid crowding the pan), and mix the spices with the wet ingredients thoroughly. Then add a layer of beef followed by a layer of the wet ingredients, and then another layer of beef, etc. in a crock pot and cook high for 4 hours (or low for 6-8). Yum!

Earlier this week I made a batch, adding some tips I spied on the Net. That was to mix some water, salt, and baking soda, massaging it into the beef and sit for 20 minutes before browning. This was said to get more browning on the beef, and to better retain moisture. Another tip was to add the spices to the browned beef and continue heating/stirring to "wake the spices up". I did this all in 5qt dutch oven, then added the wet ingredients, brought back up to simmer for 30 minutes, and then finished uncovered in the oven for 2-3 hours instead of the crock pot.

It was lousy. Really greasy, and seriously missing acidity that is usually there in spades. And flat flavor compared to the crock pot method.

So... was it the pre-treating of the beef, cooking the spices with the beef, or the combination of the two? Just curious, as I will never use those "tips" again.

Uggg, skip the baking soda. There is no reason in the world to use it. Your original technique is the best, save for the "layering" not sure aout that.

Cooking the spices with the beef is what I usually do, but Im not sure thaqt it matters.

Don't overthink chili!!
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Old 12-02-2019, 01:04 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by ScottinPollock View Post
Another tip was to add the spices to the browned beef and continue heating/stirring to "wake the spices up".
It's true that heating spices in some type of fat blooms their flavor, as well as flavors the fat and thus the rest of the dish. It would be more accurate to say that adding spices to the fat rendered from the beef "wakes up the spices." Some flavors are soluble in fat, some in water, and some in alcohol.
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Old 12-02-2019, 02:30 PM   #10
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some spices bloom in water
some in fats
some in alcohol-based compounds.
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Old 12-02-2019, 04:23 PM   #11
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Like I said...
Quote:
Originally Posted by dcSaute View Post
some spices bloom in water
some in fats
some in alcohol-based compounds.
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Old 12-02-2019, 05:30 PM   #12
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As soon as I read, add water, for better browning, that was it, I just shook my head no. I remember when store bought ground beef didn't have water added to it. It browned beautifully. Now, you can't brown ground beef without boiling it first. There is so much water added to it, should be a crime. I've often wanted to brown ground beef in a sealed container that has a tube that comes out and condenses the water in another container just to see how much water is in store bought ground beef.

A little vinegar in chili actually sweetens the tomato and if the tomato product came from a can, helps reduce the canny taste.
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Old 12-02-2019, 09:57 PM   #13
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Place the ground beef into a pan and seaso with salt. Place a lid onto the pan and cook for ten minutes. Remove the pan cover and por all liquid into a bowl, cover and place in the fridge. The liqyuid will gell withe the fat rises to the top and jardens. It is easily removed from the aspic. The aspic can be used for soup base, or gravy, sauce, etc. It has a rich, beef flavor.

The ground beed can be effectively browned for whatever you wanted to use it for.

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