Chili meat is a nutritious dish made with a combination of ground beef, beans, and seasonings. It is largely famous in countries like Mexico and the USA but is equally loved across the globe as well.
What makes it so good is its flavor and customizability which is why many people around the world make localized versions of chili that, although they have similar flavor notes, are still unique in different ways.
What is the difference between chili meat and ground beef? Ground beef is minced meat that is either finely chopped or processed in a meat grinder. Ground beef can be used to make several recipes like hamburgers, bolognese sauce, and is also the main ingredient in chili meat!
Read below to learn more about chili meat, the different types of ground beef, how they are cooked, how they taste, and more!
Ground beef starts as a whole piece of cattle meat with marbling that is minced using an electric meat grinder. The grinder finely chops and processes the fat along with the muscle fibers in the meat.
This gives meat pliability which allows it to be shaped and cooked in different ways.
Minced beef or ground beef can also cook quickly since it is loosely packed. Its texture allows for hot steam to pass through or get trapped between the pieces which cook them even quicker.
This is partly why a steak can take way longer to cook than a minced hamburger patty made using the same meat.
The use of ground beef is extremely widespread and since it is so versatile, there is a recipe for ground beef in just about every cuisine in the world!
Raw ground beef is grainy and because it has been finely chopped, it can have pieces of fat and muscle fibers clumped together.
One of the reasons why the meat can be easily shaped is because of the combination of muscle fibers, fat, and enzymes which help make the patty stick.
When shaped, ground beef has a lumpy or cracked surface texture which, as mentioned above, allows for steam and heat to permeate the meat.
By default, many people prefer to have a ratio of 70:30 when it comes to great-tasting ground beef (where 70% of the meat is lean and 30% is fat).
This ratio allows for that distinct caramelization and charred texture when the meat hits a hot surface.
You can experiment with the ratio as needed to get different textures and flavors.
For example, some fast-food joints will use either a 70:30 or a 60:40 mixture of ground beef to make hamburgers, while others may opt for a ratio of 90:10 or 80:20 for chili meat.
Not all ground beef is the same! Depending on what part of the animal you source the meat from, ground beef will have varying flavors.
Regular beef is the default for many people as it is the least expensive option and has a very “balanced” lean meat and fat ratio.
It also happens to be the tastiest option owing to the extra fat! Regular beef has a meaty, gamey, and slightly greasy flavor.
Ground chuck comes from the front area of the animal around the shoulder. This meat contains 15-25% fat and is considered to be a great all-purpose option as it works well in almost every recipe.
Ground round and sirloin are considered to be the healthiest option due to their low-fat content. While they don’t have as much fat, they still taste excellent and have a lot of different uses in a range of tasty and healthy recipes.
How To Cook Ground Beef
As mentioned, cooking ground beef doesn’t take a lot of time.
Since the meat is loosely mixed in with fat, when it hits the griddle it will first render the fat which will in turn also cook the rest of the beef.
On average, ground beef can take 10-15 minutes to cook and will usually turn brown, especially if you sear it on a hot surface.
Sirloin may require a bit more time and consideration as it doesn’t have enough fat to insulate the meat, but generally speaking, every type of ground meat can be prepared within 15-20 minutes.
Also, there are hundreds of ways to use ground beef. Some recipes require ground beef as an additional ingredient while others may put it front and center, like in the case of chili meat!
If you haven’t had chili meat then you are seriously missing out. Not only is this dish super nutritious and filling, but it is also loaded with lots of different flavors!
The origin of chili meat or chili con carne goes back centuries and it has been repeatedly mentioned in many cookbooks across many cuisines.
There is a version of chili in every country which makes it one of the most prevalent foods in the world!
A typical serving of chili meat can contain a combination of beans, meat, tomatoes, onions, broth, and more.
This recipe is very forgiving and you can add all sorts of different ingredients (like potatoes, vegetables, seasonings) to enhance the flavor of the chili.
Also, making the chili is part of the recipe’s charm since it’s customizable and usually requires common ingredients and basic seasonings that you can tweak in different ways.
If you don’t like an ingredient, remove it! If you want to get experimental, then feel free to use your imagination. Chili meat truly is like a blank canvas!
Here is a basic recipe for traditional chili meat:
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 1 pound 90% lean ground sirloin
- 2 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
- 2 tablespoons ground cumin
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
- 1 1/2 cups beef broth
- 1 (15 oz.) can diced tomatoes
- 1 (16 oz.) can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 (8 oz.) can tomato sauce
- Heat the olive oil in a large heavy-bottomed pot and fry the onions for 5 minutes.
- Now add the ground beef to the sauteed onions. Use a spoon to break the meat apart. You would want the beef to cook evenly so make sure that it cooks on all sides. Cook for about 8 minutes until the meat is browned.
- Add chili powder, cumin, sugar, tomato paste, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and cayenne. Mix everything well until incorporated. Cook for about 2 minutes.
- Now add the broth, diced tomatoes with juice/liquid, drained beans, and tomato sauce. Mix well.
- Bring the mixture to a boil by turning the heat up. Cook for 2-3 minutes on high heat, then turn the heat down, cover and let the mixture reduce, and simmer for 20-22 minutes.
- Turn off the heat. Let the chili meat rest for 5-8 minutes and then serve warm!
We went with lean ground beef for this recipe to keep things healthy but if you want more flavor then you can go for ground round or even ground chuck.
However, we recommend that you leave the regular ground beef for burger patties as the trimmings and excess fat will be of great benefit there.
While chili meat, which requires a meaty consistency using lean meat, will work better with low-fat ground beef.
Ground beef is a highly versatile ingredient that is both healthy and customizable and its use in chili meat is perhaps the best way to get the most out of its flavor and texture!
Here are a few related questions on ground beef and chili meat!
What is the difference between ground beef and minced beef?
Ground beef and minced beef mean the same thing. The term “ground beef” is usually accompanied by the type of meat which includes regular, chuck, sirloin, and ground round.
If the recipe calls for ground beef, then it may just require a regular ground beef mix of 70% lean meat and 30% fat.
Can you mix different types of ground beef to make thick or smashed patties?
Smashed or thick patties can be made from either regular ground beef or a combination of ground chuck, ground round, and fat trimmings.
There is no set ratio when it comes to hamburgers and every restaurant has its own secret ratio.
You can mix and match until you find something that best fits your taste palette. We recommend starting with regular ground beef and then adjusting the fat percentage accordingly.