You Can Turn Any Chili Into a Meaty Dip
It's not weird to have leftover chili. Between the time commitment, ingredient list, and cook time, I usually make a double or triple batch and eat 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 chili 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 chili I think of beef, red sauce, and beans. (Disagree if you like, but I like beans in chili and so does Brian Baumgartner.) Realistically, chili comes in a variety of flavors, colors, 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 chili, chicken and white bean, verde, or vegetarian--the flavor of cream cheese is going to fit right in.
Beyond adding pleasant acidity and compatible cheesy flavors, the only thing keeping your chili from becoming a proper dip is thickness. Dip has a thicker constitution than chili. 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 chili, you can enjoy a creamy consistency while it's hot and a thicker, chunkier consistency when it's room temperature or cold.
Turning your chili 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 chili and stir. If your chili 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 chili you're starting with, play around with the amount of cream cheese you add to achieve different results. A fairly loose homemade chili made with lots of tomatoes might need a full eight ounces of cream cheese, but a thicker, store-bought chilli might only need four.
Ingredients:6 ounces cream cheese2 cups chili, 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 chili and stir until completely incorporated. Microwave again if needed. Serve with tortilla chips, veggies, or pita chips.