The Secret Ingredient Claire Thomas Adds to Her Chili

And no, it's not spicy chiles.

Chipotle and Pale Ale Chili with Mexican Brown Rice Tabbouleh beauty, as seen on Food Network Kitchen Live.

Chipotle and Pale Ale Chili with Mexican Brown Rice Tabbouleh beauty, as seen on Food Network Kitchen Live.

Photo by: Rob Pryce

Rob Pryce

By: Carissa Chesanek

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Whether it's a pinch of sugar or smoky paprika, everyone's got their secret ingredient to make the "perfect chili."

For Claire Thomas, that secret ingredient is mint. Although it may not be a traditional addition, mint is refreshing and "adds a beautiful kick" into that big bowl of hearty goodness.

In her class on the Food Network Kitchen app, Claire walks through how to take the all-American gameday grub and give it a Mexican twist. She always accompanies her chili with rice, but for this version she wanted the rice to be more "herbaceous" for a fresh bite that complements the "smoky chipotle" flavor.

Claire adds pale ale to the mix to create an end result that is both "savory and rich." Claire explains that the "bitterness from the hops" and the "sweetness from the malt" all helps not only add "interesting flavor keys" but also adds more more dimension to the chili.

Claire also answers the eternal struggle for red onion lovers: how to reduce the intensity of red onion, which can overwhelm a dish, and add a mellow version of the classic flavor to your dish.

While all these tips are helpful, Claire admits that time is the real secret ingredient for all variations on the perfect pot of chili. The longer chili is able to cook, the better the flavors come together. If time permits, she lets the chili to cook up to three or four hours on the stove. And don't forget to add the mint.

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