Crockpot Chili

Slow Cooked CatChili is delicious any time, of course, but most especially in the dead of winter when the weather turns cold and dreary. However, it seems impossible to find a chili recipe that doesn’t involve canned beans. The very idea of using canned beans in the crockpot (aka the “slowcooker”), where they’re likely to turn to mush after hours and hours of cooking, just gives me the willies, so I’m coming up with my own.

Additionally, a friend and co-worker of mine just got a brand new crockpot for Christmas and was wondering what to do with it first. I suggested the chili; he said “I’ve never made chili before”, to which I responded I’d look up a recipe for him. Lacking a proper recipe anywhere, here is mine.

David, I hope this turns out just the way you like it! Just, please, don’t put the cat in the pot!

Chili con Carne

This recipe should fill a 3-4 quart crockpot nicely. Feel free to multiply quantities if you have more people to feed… and a bigger cooker!

1 lb pinto or red beans, dry
4 cups water
1 smoked ham hock, smoked neck bone, smoked turkey meat, or 1/2 rasher of bacon ((Any smoked and salty meat will work here, really, it’s up to you. Most people have bacon, go ahead and go with that!))
1 lb ground beef chuck (or other ground meat) ((If you use turkey, consider waiting until there are 2 hours cook time remaining. I find ground turkey doesn’t hold it’s consistency well with long cooking. Alternately, sauté it before putting it in the crockpot))
2 cans chili-ready tomatoes ((if you can’t find those, don’t worry, just increase the amount of spices to taste))
1 Tbsp chili powder
1/2 tsp salt (more if you choose not to used smoked, salted meat)
1/2 tsp pepper
1 onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped (optional) ((Feel free to experiment with other peppers, or mix various peppers for a different flavor profile))
2 cloves garlic ((or about 1/2 tsp of dried))
pinch of cinnamon ((it’s the secret ingredient!))
Crockpot cooking is simple: dump everything into the crockpot, cover and cook until the beans are as soft or al dente as you like, usually 6-8 hours on low, as little as 4-6 on high. Adjust seasonings as you go along, and check the water level periodically.
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