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Can You Use Bottom Round Meat in Chili?

by G.D. Palmer

Using bottom round roast for chili is a healthy and economical alternative to fatty hamburger or beef chuck. This relatively lean cut of beef benefits from the moist cooking and long stewing times normally associated with chili. Whether you prefer it ground, cubed or shredded, bottom round makes an excellent addition to almost any pot of chili con carne.

Bottom Round Roast

The term beef round refers to the rear part of the cow, which tends to be both tougher and leaner than other areas. The round is further divided into the top round, which is the leanest and tenderest portion, and the tougher bottom round. Most butchers also split the bottom round into a rump roast and bottom round roast, both of which work well in chili.

Preparing the Meat

You can use bottom round for chili in several formats. The simplest is just to cube the meat in pieces about 3/4 to 1 inch across. If you have a leftover bottom round pot or oven roast, consider shredding it with two forks to create a flavorful chili with fewer chunks. You can also grind bottom round at home by first cubing it, then partially freezing the cubes and running it through a food processor in batches. The Kitchn recommends using eight to 10 pulses of about one second each to avoid overworking the food processor.

Ingredient Order

If you want a truly flavorful chili, you'll need to cook the bottom round first. Add some oil to your pot because this cut does not contain enough fat to brown on its own. Add the meat and cook, stirring periodically, until it is brown and relatively crisp. Remove the meat, then cook all the vegetables in the oil and juices that remain in the pot. Deglaze the pot with beer, wine or water to remove any crust, then return the meat and all other ingredients to the pan and simmer.

Cooking Time

It can be tempting to serve chili relatively early in the cooking process, but the tough protein of a bottom round cut needs stewing for a long time. Make sure you simmer your chili for at least 45 to 60 minutes to break down the tough fibers and yield tender meat. Longer stewing produces an even better result. Top the pot up with water from time to time to keep the chili from drying out.

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