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Using a slow cooker to make chili makes perfect sense. The slow cooking method allows the spices to slowly permeate the chili and develop deep flavor.

This basic recipe is extremely adaptable. Bump up the seasonings if you prefer a spicier version, vary the meat or eliminate it if you want to make it vegetarian. However, served as is, along with some shredded cheese, sour cream and scallions for toppings, you have the perfect dish for a game day gathering or any day you want to serve a hearty and satisfying meal to your family.

The chili will keep beautifully on warm in the slow cooker and also freezes very well if you should happen to have any leftovers.

Slow Cooker Chili

Serves 8 to 10

2 pounds ground chuck

1 cup chopped onions

1 green or red pepper,

chopped

2 to 3 ribs celery, chopped

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 (28 ounce) can crushed

tomatoes

1 (14.5 ounce) can diced

tomatoes with jalapenos

1 (15.5 ounce) can kidney

beans, drained and

rinsed

1 (15.5 ounce) can pinto

beans, drained and

rinsed

1½ tablespoons chili powder

(or more, to taste)

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon cumin

¼ teaspoon cayenne

pepper (optional)

In a large skillet, brown the ground beef. Using a slotted spoon transfer meat to slow cooker. Wipe out the skillet and sauté the onion, peppers and celery in 1 tablespoon olive oil just until tender.

Add to slow cooker with meat. Add the rest of the ingredients to the slow cooker and stir well to combine. Cover and cook for 6 to 7 hours on low setting.