As Fall arrives and the temperatures begin to cool a bit, it always brings with it cravings for warmer, heartier foods. One of my favorite and easiest meals I like to make at this time of year is home made slow cooker chili.
I made my first batch of chili probably 8 years ago, thanks to my friend Beau Yarbrough. He posted a basic recipe for Chili on Facebook that didn’t intimidate me. Here’s that recipe.
2 tsp. vegetable oil
2 lbs. of stew beef
1 8-oz. can tomato sauce
1 10-oz. can of condensed beef broth
1 onion, finely chopped
1 15-oz. can of black beans, drained (beans are optional)
¼ cup chili powder
½ tsp. black pepper
½ tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. ground cumin
¼ tsp. Crystal Hot Sauce
1/8 tsp. liquid smoke
1 bottle Pete’s Wicked or other beer
Cook meat in a covered 4-quart pot with vegetable oil.
Add tomato sauce, broth and onion. If you’re including beans, add them at this point. Cover. Simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add remaining ingredients, stir, and simmer covered for 2 ½ hours.
In Beau’s post, he encouraged everyone to experiment with the recipe and make it the way they like, so over the years I’ve modified his recipe a bit to make it a bit “my own.”
Instead of beef stew, I use 1 lb. ground beef, 1 lb. ground pork (usually Jimmy Dean Hot Ground Pork). I tend to keep the chunks relatively large because as you mix the final batch the pieces will break up on their own.
I use a can of tomato paste instead of sauce, because I find that helps thicken things up. For beans, I really like red beans and usually buy a big bag at the farmers market. I hydrate one cup of beans overnight to make sure they’re nice and soft. The only other substitution is I tend to use a light beer. I found darker beers add too much heaviness to the chili. I also throw in two tomatoes, two green peppers (chopped) and 5-6 stalks of celery. This time I added four red jalapenos I grew at home! I use all the same spices, but also add a dash of Nutmeg.
I throw all of that stuff in a slow cooker on low for 8 hours and it’s amazing. Prep everything the night before, turn it on in the morning and when you arrive home it smells delicious in your house! Servers 8-10, or lasts about 5 days for me.
This time I also made a lovely corn bread to go with it. Nothing says fall quite like chili and corn bread.
If you’re interested in experimenting a bit more, check out another of Beau’s Chili Recipes. I’m going to have to try this out – sound intense!