Add A Tangy Spice To Chili With A Dollop Of Hot Pepper Jelly

Game day or not, making a big batch of stick-to-your-ribs chili is never a bad idea. It's hearty, comforting, and delicious. Plus, it's simple to throw together — and who doesn't love that? However, if you find yourself following the same recipe time and time again, then it might be time to switch things up. Despite that, you can test out a new recipe, the other solution is to revamp your go-to stew. That said, to take any batch of chili to the next level, the secret is simply adding in a bold condiment like hot pepper jelly. 

Of the many condiments taking up space in your fridge, it's fair to wonder what makes hot pepper jelly the chili-enhancing ingredient of choice. The reason is that hot pepper jelly is zesty and riddled with flavor. Boasting a punchy contrast of sweetness and spice, it can elevate any dish that it's worked into. Just like you might swipe a spoonful onto a crostini or a deli sandwich, the condiment can prove equally effective in helping chili soar to new heights.

Beyond imparting a complexly tangy twist to chili, hot pepper jelly also serves another purpose: it can balance flavors. While every jar of jelly is different, the condiment tends to be sugary enough to balance the stew's high level of acidity. Yet, it provides a subtle kick of heat that can keep sweetness in check. Essentially, hot pepper jelly both brightens and rounds out the flavor for a more harmonious bite.

The trick to adding hot pepper jelly is moderation

Whether they're crafted with mild jalapeño peppers, piquant poblanos, or fiery bird's eye chilis, there are all sorts of hot pepper jellies available for purchase. The important thing is that store-bought options have both a hint of heat and a touch of sweet. Otherwise, customize the condiment to your liking by whipping up your own hot pepper jelly. It takes less than half an hour and allows you to fully control spice and sugar levels.

With the right hot pepper jelly at your fingertips, you can think about working it into your chili. While it's advisable to give any sweet-meets-spicy jelly a sample to gauge how it'll impact flavors, a couple of tablespoons is usually the ideal amount to liven up a boring batch. The key, however, is knowing when to stir the jelly into the chili. For the best diffusion of flavor (and to avoid any risk of burning), spoon in the hot pepper jelly after you've browned protein and aromatics, as you're ready to add in the tomatoes, broth, and beans. Don't worry if the jelly is, well, gelatinous — it'll melt into the chili almost instantly. Once combined, bring everything to a boil before reducing the heat and simmer until fragrant. 

Although there are endless ways to give chili an upgrade, incorporating whatever's left in a jar of hot pepper jelly is a total game-changer. Don't be surprised if it becomes a fixture in your favorite recipe!