Recipe Review: Slow Cooker Chili

Original Recipe from Cooking Classy.

All right, y’all. My office sent out an email last week with an announcement that we would be holding a chili cook-off in the break room on Halloween, with the winner of the cook-off being awarded a cash prize. (There was also a tidbit in there about getting to wear your costume, and I’m all about wearing my costume anywhere I can!) I’ve never made chili before, and I used to not even particularly like chili, but if you put the word “prize” in something, I’m going to try it!

20181007_141449.jpgI immediately went and researched chili recipes and came up with three of them. I roped Steven into being a taste tester (because obviously, I’ve got to try each of them to figure out which one is the best!), and we decided Sunday would be a great day to try some chili.

I let Steven decide which of the three recipes he wanted to try first, and he decided on the Cooking Classy recipe. I was all for it, because it meant I didn’t have to buy beer to go in it, and I got to use a slow cooker. His slow cooker was a bit smaller than mine (probably 5 quarts instead of 6), but everything fit because I halved the recipe. The original recipe says it makes seven servings, and we got about four out of it after halving it, so I think her calculations are correct.

Here’s what I changed about the recipe, which isn’t a lot:

  • I used Rotel fire-roasted diced tomatoes with green chilies instead of the regular
  • I used one of the tubes of ground beef (83%) instead of “lean” ground beef
  • I used a vidalia onion instead of a yellow onion (because that’s what my mom had when I raided her pantry to see what I wouldn’t have to buy)

All in all, I was extremely impressed by how easy this was. The only thing you really have to do with this recipe is brown the onions and the meat, and that only takes one pan. You brown the onions in some olive oil, transfer them to the slow cooker, and then put the meat in the same pan and brown it, no seasoning required.

20181007_142447.jpgOnce you transfer the meat to the slow cooker, all you have to do is stir it up with the onions a bit, and then dump everything into the pot. I put the tomato sauce in first, then the diced tomatoes, then the seasonings. It’s important to note that you don’t put the beans in at the beginning of the slow cook, because otherwise they’ll get mushy. Luckily I read the instructions through and realized this, so I set my beans aside.

Once you’ve got everything in the pot, you give it a quick stir to make sure everything melds together, put the lid on, and set it to cook on low for about five to six hours. I ended up cooking mine for four hours, because I halved the recipe (as I’ve mentioned before). I didn’t want to burn it, and since most everything is already cooked, the only real reason for having it in the slow cooker longer is to make the flavors melt together even more.

The hardest part of this recipe, as with any slow cooker recipe, is the wait. After about an hour, we could really smell the chili cooking and knew we were going to be in for a treat when it finally finished. I didn’t have any trouble with the slow cooker, and was honestly impressed at how easy this was to put together.

After four hours, I added the kidney beans to the pot and let it simmer for another ten minutes before serving it up. As soon as I took that lid off, I knew we’d made a great decision. It smelled absolutely heavenly. I dished up two big bowls, we covered them in sharp cheddar cheese, and we settled onto the couch. Our first bites were an immediate success.

20181007_142844.jpgIt’s got just enough of a kick to it where you know the spice is there, but not enough to overpower it and make it all that you can taste. (I like to be able to taste my food without burning my taste buds off.) It’s also super filling. We each had one bowl and decided to go back for seconds, and realized halfway through our second bowl that we were both stuffed. If you eat this, make sure to give it just a minute for it to settle in your stomach, because you don’t need to eat a lot in one sitting.

It most likely would’ve been better had we made cornbread to go with it, but oh well. I am also pleased to announce that the leftovers warmed up really well the next day and tasted great, too! I can see this being a great fall recipe to make on a Sunday afternoon and take for lunches throughout the week. The spice gets a bit stronger the second day, but it’s still not overpowering. You can always add more spice if you try it and decide it needs it, too.

As always, I recommend you make the recipe exactly the way the recipe says in the first place (or as close to it as you can get, as you can see by my substitutions above), and then tweak it in subsequent cookings.

I asked Steven what he would rate this recipe, and he gave it a solid 4/5 stars, and I guess I agree with him, although I might bump that up to a 4.5/5 for me. I’m not sure how you would improve it (maybe some green peppers??), but I am 100% on board for trying this again!

Pros:

  • just a one pan, one pot meal!
  • super quick to assemble
  • warms up great the next day!
  • perfect amount of spice

Cons:

  • you gotta wait a minimum of six hours before you can eat it

I’m trying another chili recipe this weekend (probably Saturday, since we’ll be away for a few hours and can just let it sit while we’re gone), but Steven has already told me not to lose this recipe. We might try the other two and come back to this one, but only time will tell.

Do you have a favorite chili recipe you want me to try? Do you think it could win a chili cook-off? Let me know in the comments!

And as always, keep reading.

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