It is chili season. No doubt about it. Just this last weekend, while in the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, at my family—the Ensminger family –reunion, we enjoyed chili while the wind howled and snow accumulated on the slopes.
Who would have thought we would have had snow the first weekend in October! It was so cold! Pretty–as you can see in this picture taken from our cabin deck–but cold. We needed warm, comforting food and chili fit the bill.
One of the best things about chili is the variety. At the reunion I made a traditional Midwestern Chili and a chicken, cilantro and cumin chili so everyone could pick their favorite. Both were quick and easy to prepare. I added red kidney beans to one and Great Northern beans to the other—and beans is just one delightful part of the chili controversy. For more insight on the great chili debate and quick tour of traditional chilies around the country, visit The Kansas City Star’s Chow Town blog and read my post about a great bowl of chili.
Before leaving for the reunion I made this chunky chili in the slow cooker. I love it and I also love opening the door of the house and taking in the incredible aroma of chili that has simmered in the slow cooker all day. Sure, you could substitute ground beef for the cubed beef chuck in this recipe, but the flavor really is worth the few minutes it will take to cut the beef. (And if you put the chuck in the freezer for about 30 minutes so it is icy cold, it will cut even easier.) Let it cook all day and come home to a great dinner. Chase away the chill of the day and just enjoy. Care to pull up a chair and join me?
Beef, Beer and Bean Chili
2 slices bacon
2-1/2 to 2-3/4 pounds boneless beef chuck roast, trimmed of fat and cut into 1/4-to 1/2-inch cubes
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes, with liquid
1/2 cup beer
1/2 cup salsa
2 tablespoons tomato paste
3 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons dry minced garlic
1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 cans (15 to 16 ounces each) red kidney, pinto or black beans, rinsed and drained
Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon, reserving drippings. Crumble cooked bacon, cover and refrigerate.
Add beef cubes, in batches, to the bacon drippings and cook, stirring frequently, until beef is well browned. Remove beef with a slotted spoon, leaving drippings and set beef aside to drain. Cook remaining beef in a similar fashion. Add onion to drippings remaining in skillet and cook until onion is tender, stirring frequently and scraping up any bits of beef remaining in skillet. Place browned beef and onion in large (5 to 6-quart) slow cooker.
Stir in tomatoes, beer, salsa, tomato paste, chili powder, cumin, brown sugar, garlic, oregano, salt, cayenne and pepper. Cover and cook on low 7 to 8 hours or on high 3 hours or until beef is very tender. Stir in beans and crumbled bacon. Cook on low 30 minutes.
Makes 6 to 8 servings.
Select two different colors of beans for an attractive chili.
Top chili as desired, with shredded cheese, chopped onions, sliced jalapeno peppers, or sour cream.
For a spicier chili, increase chili powder to 4 tablespoons and/or increase cayenne to 1/2 teaspoon.
Look for tomato paste in a tube, such as one by Amore. You can use the 2 tablespoons needed for this recipe, cap the tube and store it in the refrigerator for up to 45 days.
Use dry minced garlic in the slow cooker when you want a great, garlic flavor. It does not fade when slow cooking like fresh garlic will.