Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Easy Slow Cooker Beef and Bean Chili

Aaron and I love chili and usually I make a quick version on the stove top. Check out my Chicken Chili Verde recipe from last summer for a quick recipe. Two years ago, Aaron gave me a slow cooker for Christmas and it changed my world! Slow cookers make it really easy to prep ahead and then a meal enjoy later while you're busy doing other things. We recently hosted our Chicago friends and I thought it would be easier to make slow cooker chili in and Aaron loved it! This Beef and Bean Chili is really simple so it's a good recipe to serve guests. Cooking chili in the slow cooker lets the flavors to really deepen.

Since he liked it so much, I made it again this Sunday. It's really easy to throw together. In fact, I was able to brown the meat and chop the veggies and get the ingredients in the crock pot in 20 minutes on Sunday afternoon and then we enjoyed the meal that evening. Vegetarians can substitute the ground beef for more beans and veggies. Be careful with delicate veggies (like zucchini) in the slow cooker because they may get overcooked.

Slow Cooker Beef and Bean Chili (Serves 4-6)

  • 1 lb ground beef, or turkey, or chicken
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 large jalapeno, seeded and minced
  • 2-16oz cans beans of choice (pinto, kidney, chickpea, black), rinsed and drained
  • 1-16oz can tomato sauce
  • 1-16oz can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 3 cloves crushed garlic
  • 2 tbs tomato paste
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne or ground red pepper
  • 2-3 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
Preparation (20 minutes):
  • Preheat a skillet or large pot on medium heat. While waiting for the skillet to heat, open cans of beans and rinse in a colander, drain and set aside.
  • Chop onions and both peppers, dropping the raw vegetables directly in the slower cooker.
  • Add cooking spray or a small coating of canola oil to skillet and add ground meat. Add seasonings: chili powder, cumin, oregano, and crushed garlic. Brown the meat in the skillet. Cook until no longer pink (about 8-10 minutes). Add tomato paste and season with 1/4 tsp of salt.
  • Add cooked meat mixture in the slow cooker with the vegetables. Add beans, tomato sauce, and canned tomatoes. Add 1/4 tsp cayenne, 1/4 tsp salt, and additional chili powder to taste.
  • Stir ingredients and set slow cooker on LOW setting for 5-6 hours. Stir ingredients occasionally and taste along the way to see if you want more salt or chili seasonings.
  • Serve with favorite chili toppings (see below).

Suggested Chili Toppings:
  • Sour cream
  • Shredded cheddar cheese
  • Lime wedges
  • Hot sauce
  • Avocado chunks
  • Chopped green onions
  • Coarsely chopped fresh cilantro

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