(Guest post by The Better Half)
I love to cook, but I rarely make anything complicated or overly time-consuming. In the world of finance, they call it “Return on Investment.” I call it “Minimal effort. Maximum enjoyment.”
A couple of weeks back, Julie was out of town on a week-long business trip. While pondering the question of how to feed myself for the next week, I developed a hankering for chili. (Yeah. I know. Chili? In January? I’m nothing if not a rebel.) I rifled through my shelves of cookbooks and skimmed the internet, looking for a recipe. During the search, I was reminded of something I’ve known for a long time: With regard to chili recipes, no two are alike, but they’re all basically the same. The vast majority of recipes pick and choose from a list of standard ingredients and then vary the proportions and amounts of those ingredients. Meat or no meat? How much/what kind of meat? Beans or no beans? What kind of beans? Some combination of tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato puree, and/or tomato paste. Onion. Chili powder. Salt. Pepper. Other spices. Stovetop or crock pot? Assemble ingredients and let them hang out under low heat for at least a couple of hours. I
decided I wanted to use the crock pot. I like the crock pot. It’s easy to use, particularly so for soups, stews, and chili. I found a couple of basic crock pot chili recipes and started adding and substituting ingredients to fit my own cravings. I like chili that’s really meaty. I like some heat and spiciness, but don’t overdo. I like beans in my chili. The end result was a batch of chili from which I fed myself for several nights. It was quick and easy. Less than half an hour after I started, I had a clean kitchen and a batch of chili doing its thing in the crock pot. As is the case for most chilis, soups, stews, and casseroles, it tasted even better on the second day…and the third day. Over the course of five days, I never tired of it. I just made a second batch yesterday. And I might do another batch for Super Bowl Sunday
- 2 pounds ground beef
- 1 pound bulk breakfast sausage (hot)
- 1 28-ounce can tomato puree
- 1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
- 2 15-ounce cans black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
- 1 bell pepper, coarsely chopped (green, red, or orange...your choice)
- ⅓ cup chili powder
- 1 tbsp garlic powder
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- ½ tsp cayenne pepper
- Brown the ground beef in a skillet in one-pound batches. Season with a little salt and pepper. Drain.
- Brown the sausage. Drain.
- While the meat is browning, chop the onion and pepper.
- Put everything in the crock pot. Mix well.
- Cook on low for six or seven hours, stirring every hour or so.
- Serve with your favorite chili fixings and add-ons.