When you look at your Crock Pot, what do you see bubbling inside? We see chili — the most basic, easy use for your slow cooker. It’s a protein-packed, savory, filling warm dish especially good for cold days. To start developing the flavors, sauté the vegetables, ground beef, and spices, then put the mixture into the Crock Pot along with tomatoes and kidney beans. Let it do its thing overnight or all day until it’s thickened and has a nice beefy flavor, and then stir in jalapeños for a kick of heat. Serve with Jalapeño Cornbread Muffins or Nacho Cheese Crackers, or as a substitute chili component of these Chili Cheese Dogs.
To use dried beans in place of canned, start with 1 cup dried beans, soaked and cooked to yield 3 cups.
Make-ahead note: The flavors continue to develop as the chili sits, so go ahead and make it up to 2 days in advance and refrigerate it in a container with a tight-*fitting lid. It can also be frozen for up to 1 month.
- Yield: 6 servings
- Difficulty: Easy
- Total: 45 mins, plus 6 to 8 hrs in the slow cooker
- Active: 45 mins
For the chili:
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 medium yellow onions, medium dice
- 1 medium red bell pepper, medium dice
- 6 medium garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup chili powder
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 2 pounds lean ground beef
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more as needed
- 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
- 1 (14-ounce) can tomato sauce
- 2 (15-ounce) cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- 1/4 cup coarsely chopped pickled jalapeños or green chiles, drained
- Shredded cheddar cheese
- Thinly sliced scallions
- Sour cream
- Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onions and bell pepper, season with salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 8 minutes.
- Add the garlic, chili powder, and cumin, stir to coat the vegetables, and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the ground beef and measured salt and cook, breaking the meat into small pieces with a wooden spoon, until the beef is no longer pink, about 7 minutes.
- Transfer the mixture to the slow cooker, add the diced tomatoes and their juices, tomato sauce, and beans, and stir to combine. Cover and cook until the chili thickens and the flavors meld, about 8 hours on low or 6 hours on high.
- Stir in the jalapeños or green chiles. Taste and season with salt as needed, and serve with the cheese, scallions, and sour cream.