I do love my slow cookers! I’ve got two 8 quart sized cookers, and have found they are the perfect size for us. Especially for making something like chili; it’s enough to feed us for a couple of days, making life much simpler!
The chili I make is not at all traditional. In fact, I’m sure it would horrify true chili aficionados! 😀 I’ve looked through various recipes and they either use ingredients I never tend to have – or ones I can’t use. My chili has no heat to it. At all. You see, for some reason, I have these massive crevasses in my tongue. It seems to be a hereditary thing, as my father had them, as does one of my daughters. The oils that cause that spicy heat gets into them, and once there, there’s nothing I can do to alleviate the pain of it. So as much as I love the taste of spicy food, I can’t actually eat it.
Which makes me sad. Because I love Indian food.
So here is my non-traditional, totally mild (though you can make it spicy, if you want), slow cooker chili.
Remember; this is for a big slow cooker, so feel free to cut the recipe in half. I’m pretty loosey-goosey with the quantities, too.
First up, start browning the ground meat.
I like to use lean or extra lean ground beef, but I’ve also made it with combination of beef and pork, or beef and turkey, since those three ground meats are all pretty inexpensive at Costco. I used a family size pack of lean ground beef, which was about 5 pounds, and browned it in batches and transferred it to the slow cooker liner using a slotted spoon, so what little fat there was in the pan, stayed in the pan.
While the beef was browning, I chopped up a large yellow onion. I like leaving the chunks a bit on the large side. Just because.
I added the onion to the last batch of browning beef.
Next on the chopping block; 4 or 5 small carrots.
I usually use about 5, but used only 4 this time. I finished off one bag and didn’t feel like starting another. I like to chop carrots smaller, too. This made just under a cup of chopped carrots.
Then I chopped up 2 small sweet potatoes.
Yes, sweet potatoes.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen a chili recipe with them in there, but it was something I decided to try some years ago, and it’s been a permanent addition, since. I like to chop these even smaller than the carrot. The idea is for them to be so soft that they disintegrate into the chili when you mix it at the end. There’s something about the creamy smoothness of it that really appeals to me.
After the meat and onions were browned, I added the chopped carrots and sweet potato, then 1 can of mixed beans and 1 can of white kidney beans (both 19 oz cans, drained and rinsed).
I like to change up the can with one type of beans, but I always include 1 can of mixed beans.
Next up is a large tin of crushed tomatoes, a small tin of tomato paste, seasonings and water.
The seasonings are typically whatever I have handy; usually a steak spice mix and garlic. Slow cookers are where dried foods are in their element, so I used dehydrated garlic pieces that I’ve been able to find. Strangely, I hardly ever saw them before our move, but our local grocery store carries it! In refill packages, too, so it’s really cheap. 🙂
The 4 of us have very different preferences when it comes to seasoning, so I tend to use a light hand with it, then everyone can add their own later on.
Then mix it all together! Not an easy task, with the crock so full!
Add more water, if needed.
The water is another one of those loosey-goosey measurements. Food in slow cookers release their own moisture, so they need less added to begin with. How much to add is a judgement call. I find it’s safer to add less at the start, then check after it’s been cooking a while. If it seems to need more, I’ll add boiling water, so it won’t cool the slow cooker down too much.
I then set the slow cooker on low for 5 hours. I did end up adding more water part way through. In the time it took to finish adding the water and stirring everything, I increased the time a bit to compensate for lost heat.
This is what it looked like when we got back from town. There was a bit over half an hour on the timer at this point.
This would be the time to give it a taste and adjust the seasonings, then give it a good stir.
I then stirred in my final ingredient.
Whipping cream. About 3/4 cup.
That was another one of those “Hmm… I should try this” experiments I’d made some years ago that stuck around.
At this point, I like to stir it very thoroughly to break up the sweet potato pieces. I then returned the cover and left it for the last few minutes to make sure the cream was warmed through.
Between the sweet potatoes and the cream, we have ourselves a wonderfully rich and saucy chili.
Top your bowl with some shredded cheese, sour cream or some yogurt cheese (which, sadly, we are now out of), and enjoy!
Here’s the recipe:
Non-traditional Slow Cooker Chili
for: 8 quart slow cooker
cook on low for 5 hours
Lean or extra lean ground beef (family pack; about 5 pounds)
1 large onion, chopped
4-5 small carrots, chopped
2 small sweet potatoes, chopped small
1 tin mixed beans (19oz), drained and rinsed
1 tin white kidney beans (19oz), drained and rinsed
1 tin crushed tomatoes (796ml – 26oz)
1 tin tomato paste (170gm – 6oz)
4 cups water (to start)
Seasonings to taste (steak spice mix, dehydrated garlic or garlic granules, salt, pepper, etc.)
hot water, as needed during cooking
3/4 cup whipping cream, or to taste
shredded cheese for topping (or sour cream, or yogurt cheese)
- Brown beef and onions. Drain and transfer to slow cooker liner.
- Add chopped vegetables, beans, crushed tomato, tomato paste, 3 or 4 cups of water and seasonings. Mix. Cover.
- Set slow cooker to low for 5 hours.
- Check after a couple hours to see if hot water is needed. Add if necessary and stir.
- Shortly before done, taste and adjust seasonings as desired.
- Stir in whipping cream. Cover and let warm through for final cooking time.
- Serve topped with shredded cheese, sour cream or other toppings of choice.