Thicken Your Chili Like Alton Brown Does And Crumble Up Tortilla Chips

alton brown smiling
alton brown smiling - Vincent Sandoval/Getty Images

Chili is one of those dishes where you can easily eyeball how much of each ingredient to add and still get delicious results. However, even chili with perfect flavor, won't be as satisfying if it has been watered down by too much broth or liquid from canned ingredients. Usually, you can cook the chili down a bit longer so the liquid reduces, but it isn't always the best approach because it can make the other ingredients overcooked and mushy. Using flour or cornstarch is one of the common ways to fix your runny soup, but Alton Brown uses a different ingredient when it comes to chili.

As the celebrity chef shared in an episode of his Food Network show "Good Eats," his go-to thickening agent is actually tortilla chips, which add more flavor than flour or cornstarch. He simply crumbles them up and mixes them into his chili, and the result is a chili that's perfectly thick and full of flavor.

Read more: 11 Of The Best Cooking Tips From Bobby Flay

How Alton Brown's Chili Thickening Technique Works

bowl filled with chili
bowl filled with chili - Lauripatterson/Getty Images

Tortilla chips may not be a conventional chili thickener, but they're still an effective one. Tortilla chips are fried pieces of tortilla, and tortillas are made out of ground corn, which means they have a high starch content. When a source of starch is added to a hot liquid, the heat activates a thickening reaction during which the starches absorb the liquid and expand. The same reaction occurs when you add crumbled-up tortilla chips to chili.

Unlike flour or cornstarch, which have a fairly neutral taste, tortilla chips have a distinct, savory corn flavor. This gives chili a major flavor boost because corn is naturally complementary to spices found in many chili recipes including cayenne, chili, jalapeño, and paprika. Tortilla chips also don't fully dissolve when they absorb the excess broth in chili. Instead, they develop a chewy texture, resulting in chili that's not only thicker and more flavorful but also heartier.

What You Should Know Before Adding Tortilla Chips To Chili

ladling chili from large pot
ladling chili from large pot - Veselovaelena/Getty Images

If you're using other forms of starch to thicken chili, typically they're added towards the end of the cooking process. But when it comes to tortilla chips, Alton Brown actually mixes them in pretty early on, along with all of the other chili ingredients. Unlike flour and cornstarch, which have to be added little by little as a slurry while the chili is at a simmer, you don't have to be quite as careful with tortilla chips because there's no risk of them going clumpy.

Brown adds 3 ounces or what he estimates is about 30 tortilla chips to his chili, but depending on how watery your chili is, you can add more or less. Keep in mind that the more you add, the saltier your chili may turn out, so you'll either want to adjust the salt in your recipe or opt for the low-sodium tortilla chips.

For an extra layer of flavor, you could also use flavored tortilla chips like lime or chili varieties. But even if you go with the plain kind, you'll still be able to see a noticeable difference in your chili's taste and texture.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.