As I sit here writing this post snow is falling outside my window. It’s only the middle of November and this is highly unusual for Toronto. Alas, if I only I had a bowl of this delicious chili to warm me up! Sadly, we’ve eaten it all!
What makes a Chili Con Carne?
The basic ingredients for chili con carne are beef, tomatoes, green chilis and beans. There is some controversy among “chili purists” about the original ingredients, but who cares! I think this is what most of us grew up with and I remember how satisfied I felt as a kid after a meal of chili and toast. Now I just eat the chili as is, but I’ll often add some extra vegetables (like in my picture above) or make a salad to go with it.
The best thing about this chili is that it’s a slow cooker chili con carne. I’ve found that you really need to slow simmer a chili for at least three hours on the stove top. It takes a few hours for the flavours to fully impart into the chili. The longer the duration, the more the green chilis mellow (less of a bite), and the tomatoes become less acidic. Not only that but you have to stick around to stir the pot every 15-minutes over a 3-4 hour period. I am so over that! This recipe takes 15-minutes to prepare. While Im browning the ground beef, I can prepare the remaining ingredients. Once I set the crock pot to cook, I’m done working!
You can make a ground turkey or ground chicken chili. Ground sirloin would really add to the boldness of the flavour. I like to play around with spices. Sometimes I only use cumin and chili (fresh green or red chilis, dried chili flakes, or dried red chili powder). I’ve also added Spanish paprika, which pairs well with the flavours of the chili and beef fat.
Onions and garlic are must-haves, but you can have fun with different vegetable combinations. Celery is one of my standard ingredients, and usually carrots. All these vegetables are aromatics, which you can use in soups and stews to enhance flavour. I prefer adding vegetables, because I want to make sure I always get enough in my daily diet. I’ve also used fennel bulb (in place of celery) and turnip – both vegetables hold up well (they don’t get mushy) for the longer cooking duration.
When it comes to beans, I find kidney beans impart the best flavour with the ground beef. Black beans and Romano also work well.
How much liquid?
The amount of liquid in chili comes primarily from the amount of tomatoes used. Other liquids that add to the total amount include Balsamic vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, or red wine.
If I were making this recipe on the stove I would have used two large cans of plum tomatoes. Using a slow cooker requires much less liquid, because there is no evaporation during the cooking process. I’ve experimented with my slow cooker recipes to see how little liquid I need to get the same consistency as a stove top cooked stew.
I first got the amount of liquid right with my Veal Butternut Squash Slow Cooker Stew. Normally I use two large cans of plum tomatoes for three 3-4 pounds of meat for cooking on the stove top. When using a slow cooker I’ve discovered that the ratio is one large can of tomatoes to 3-4 pounds of meal. It will look like you need to add more to the crock pot, but trust me, the consistency is perfect!
Eat well to be well.
Slow Cooker, cast iron pan, cutting board, sharp knife, measuring cups and spoons, wooden spoon.