Five days into 2015 and I’m already behind in life. I wish I could blame it entirely on Brian’s big move to Atlanta happening Wednesday, but Friends streaming on Netflix had something to do with it too, so we’ll just have to chalk this one up against me and my undiagnosed ADD.
Anyway, the point in this little bit of woe-is-me sharing is that in wintry, busy times like these, I like to turn on the slow cooker and turn to easy, no-muss, no-fuss recipes to try and get at least one part of my life on track. Food just so happens to be the track I care about the most, and this slow-cooker chili recipe, introduced to me by my sis Kate and with slight adaptations, is up there with the best of them. Five days in with five bowls of chili and counting and 2015 ain’t looking so bad after all.
The cast of characters: oil (not pictured), 2 medium yellow onions, 1 red bell pepper, 6 garlic cloves, ¼ cup chili powder, 1 tablespoon cumin, 2 pounds lean ground beef, 1½ teaspoons kosher salt, 1 28-oz can diced tomatoes, 1 14-oz can tomato sauce, 2 15-oz cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed, 1 can corn (big, small, whatever you please), drained, and ¼ cup pickled jalapenos, chopped. Quite a long list of ingredients, but each plays an integral role.
To start, heat the oil (vegetable, olive, whatever) in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the onions and bell peppers both chopped at a medium dice. Season with a pinch of salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 8 minutes.
To keep this flavor thing going, add the garlic, chili powder, and cumin, and stir to evenly coat the vegetables with the spices. Cook until fragrant, and it will get quite fragrant, for about 1 minute.
Now comes the all-important meat part. Add the ground beef and 1½ teaspoons kosher salt and cook, breaking the meat into small pieces with a spoon or spatula until browned, about 7 minutes.
I don’t know about you, but the thought of throwing raw ground beef into a wet slow cooker really isn’t appealing to me, so I’m very glad the browning stage precedes the crock-pot stage. But I digress.
Once the meat and veggie base is ready, transfer the mixture to the slow cooker, then add the diced tomatoes, juices and all, tomato sauce, and drained beans, and give everything a good stir.
Depending on how much time you have, cover and cook for 8 hours on low or 5 hours on high until the chili thickens and the flavors come together. That fragrant chili smell will begin many hours earlier, but please do your best to resist devouring it before the necessary cooking time. The longer you wait, the higher the payoff.
When you’re about 15 minutes from the end of cook time, stir in the drained can of corn and the chopped jalapeños for an added kick and count down those final minutes. Taste and season with salt as needed, and serve with your favorite chili fixings.
Mine happen to be a generous dollop of sour cream and shredded cheese.
I should point out that I’m really picky when it comes to my chili, stupidly picky, but this one passes all tests, especially the ones on texture and ease, and most definitely on taste. What’s more, this makes a really big potful and the flavor of the chili only gets better overnight. Seldom do I eat leftovers (something about it is so bleh to me), but this here chili is an exception to the rule. Enjoy!
- 3 tablespoons oil
- 2 medium yellow onions, diced
- 1 medium red bell pepper, diced
- 6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- ¼ cup chili powder
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 2 pounds lean ground beef
- 1½ teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 28-oz can diced tomatoes
- 1 14-oz can tomato sauce
- 2 15-oz cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 can corn
- ¼ cup pickled jalapenos, chopped
- Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the onions and bell pepper both chopped at a medium dice. Season with a pinch of salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 8 minutes.
- Add the garlic, chili powder, and cumin, and stir to coat the vegetables evenly. Cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
- Add the ground beef and 1½ teaspoons kosher salt and cook, breaking the meat into small pieces with a spoon or spatula until browned, about 7 minutes.
- Transfer the mixture to the slow cooker, then add the diced tomatoes with their juices, tomato sauce, and drained beans. Stir to combine.
- Cover and cook for 8 hours on low or 6 hours on high until the chili thickens and the flavors come together.
- Once you're about ready to eat the chili, stir in the jalapeños and corn. Taste and season with salt as needed, and serve with your favorite chili fixings.
- This chili is even better the day after, so leftovers will taste especially good. Cover and refrigerate, reheat when you're ready for more.