It’s not weird to have leftover chilli. Between the time commitment, ingredient list, and cook time, I usually make a double or triple batch and eat it throughout the rest of the week. Unfortunately, every time I meal prep like this, I become tired of the repetition by midweek, which is why I often need to get creative. You can prevent your leftover chilli from becoming played out by day three by turning it into a meaty dip. All you need is one extra ingredient: cream cheese.
When I think of a classic chilli I think of beef, red sauce, and beans. (Disagree if you like, but I like beans in chilli and so does Brian Baumgartner.) Realistically, chilli comes in a variety of flavours, colours, and thicknesses, which is why cream cheese is a perfect addition. This sturdy but spreadable cheese is tangy with just a nudge of salt, but otherwise delightfully neutral. That’s why it makes such a great companion for your bagel toppings whether you choose strawberry jelly or salmon. Beef chilli, chicken and white bean, verde, or vegetarian — the flavour of cream cheese is going to fit right in.
Beyond adding pleasant acidity and compatible cheesy flavours, the only thing keeping your chilli from becoming a proper dip is thickness. Dip has a thicker constitution than chilli. Despite how chunky it might be, the liquid will always be a bit loose and watery. Cream cheese has just the right amount of saturated fat in it to be loose and fluffy when warm, and sturdy yet pliable when cold. It thickens without being a “thickener” like cornstarch or flour. Once the cream cheese is mixed into your chilli, you can enjoy a creamy consistency while it’s hot and a thicker, chunkier consistency when it’s room temperature or cold.
Turning your chilli into dip is fast and simple. Put the cream cheese in a bowl and warm it up in the microwave until it’s melted, fluffy, and smooth, about 30 seconds. Add the chilli and stir. If your chilli is right out of the fridge, you may need to pop it back in the microwave to warm it up more. Stir until fully incorporated. Top with shredded cheese and serve with chips. Below is the recipe I used recently, but depending on the consistency of the chilli you’re starting with, play around with the amount of cream cheese you add to achieve different results. A fairly loose homemade chilli made with lots of tomatoes might need a full eight ounces of cream cheese, but a thicker, store-bought chilli might only need four.
Chilli dip recipe
What you’ll need:
- 6 ounces cream cheese
- 2 cups chilli, room temperature or warm
Place the cream cheese in a bowl and soften it in the microwave for about 30-40 seconds, stirring after 20 seconds. Add the chilli and stir until completely incorporated. Microwave again if needed. Serve with tortilla chips, veggies, or pita chips.
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