In the middle of summer, when the temperatures soar and being outside is like being in a sauna, it’s nice to stay indoors in the air conditioning. When you think about making something for dinner, the last thing you want to do is heat up the kitchen by cooking over a stovetop or firing up the oven. Crock pot to the rescue! I love my crock pot. You just put ingredients in it, turn it on, and forget it until it’s done hours later. It doesn’t heat up the room, it doesn’t require constant care and stirring, nothing could be easier.
Chili in summer? Sure! We eat chili dogs in summer, why not chili? This isn’t the sort of chili that goes on hot dogs, because of all the beans, but this yummy stew tastes great any time of year, freezes well, reheats well, and is exceptionally easy to make with a crock pot.
The four main ingredients to this recipe are beans, meat, tomatoes, and spices. As with any recipe, you can add, subtract, or substitute as you like to meet your own tastes. First, let’s talk spices. I use chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper, fresh onion and garlic, and a packet of chili seasoning mix. You can, of course, omit the packet and just mix individual spices you like, but I like the convenience and taste of this spice mix, and I do supplement it with my own as well.
Next up is the crock pot itself. If you don’t have a crock pot, I would recommend you get one. You’ll never be sorry. They are so convenient and easy to use and clean. I have two of them. The smaller one is an older 4-quart model. I also have a bigger 6-quart cooker but I don’t use it very much because my recipes don’t fill it, and it’s hotter than my smaller one, so tends to overcook smaller recipes.
Chili without beans is just beef. I add a variety of beans to my chili for varied taste and texture. Use fresh or home canned wherever you can, but all I have available to me at the moment is store-bought canned items. I use 1 can of dark red kidney beans, 1 can of light red kidney beans, and 2 cans of pinto beans. Make sure you thoroughly rinse and drain your beans before using. I think the pintos add a nice smooth gravy-like consistency to the chili. I also use two cans of tomatoes, 1 can always stewed tomatoes, and the other either another can of stewed or something like diced or chili spiced diced tomatoes. Chili spiced ones already have spices in them, and a thicker tomato sauce, which is nice, but if I use them I usually cut down on the spices at the end of the recipe so they’re not too strong.
First get your beans drained and just pour them into the crock pot. Here you can get a better idea of the different beans. I’m hoping to grow all these in my garden next year.
Next up is the tomatoes. Your tomatoes should be at least diced, if not smaller. I mentioned I use stewed tomatoes, mainly because I like the flavor of them. They contain celery, peppers, and onion in them. But as you can see in this picture stewed tomatoes come in fairly large chunks not good for chili.
For this reason I chop them up fairly small in my food processor before using them in most recipes. Once chopped to whatever size you like, add them into the pot with the beans.
Next I chop up a whole onion and use a generous portion of garlic. I love garlic.
Now for the beef. I use one pound of ground beef for this recipe. This is the only actual cooking part of this recipe. Brown it in a skillet over medium heat on the stove, chopping it up as it cooks into small pieces. I also add generous amounts of onion and garlic powder, and a pinch of salt and pepper while browning it. If you wanted to avoid any stovetop cooking, you could have the beef pre-cooked and frozen for use as needed. You could also put your onion and garlic into the skillet with the beef to cook if you wanted instead of putting them into the crock pot raw, but that’s a matter of personal preference.
Now for the spices. The packet directions call for adding the spices to the meat in the skillet, but I just pour them into the crock over the cooked meat, along with a handful of chili powder and some cumin.
Mix everything together. The chili at this point may seem overly dry and thick, but don’t worry. As it cooks, the veggies give up their liquids and mix with the spices into deliciousness.
All you have to do now is put on the lid, turn the pot onto high, and let it cook for about 6 hours. You can also cook it on low for 10-12 hours if you want to set it before work and eat it for dinner when you get home.
Just give it a stir and serve in bowls. You can top it with cheese, sour cream, green onions, or anything else you like. I usually top mine with plenty of cheddar cheese and serve with bread, rolls, or biscuits. You can freeze leftovers and they reheat wonderfully, or just pop them in the fridge, they probably won’t last long.
Crock Pot Chili
1 1-pound can dark red kidney beans, drained
1 1-pound can light red kidney beans, drained
2 1-pound cans pinto beans, drained
1 pound ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cans stewed tomatoes, or 1 stewed and 1 diced or chili-spiced diced tomatoes
1 packet of chili seasoning mix
2 tablespoons of chili powder
1-2 teaspoons of ground cuminsalt and pepper to taste
onion powder and garlic powder to taste
Brown ground beef in a skillet. Add garlic and onion powder, salt and pepper to taste while cooking. Chop meat into small pieces as it cooks. Layer ingredients in crock pot, give it all a good stir to mix well, then cook on High for 6 hours. (Or 10-12 hours on Low.) Serve in bowls with your favorite toppings, accompanied by bread, rolls, or biscuits. Makes approx. 3 quarts.