Slow Cooker Weeknight Beef Chili
This week has taken kind of a different toll on me as I was given a new temporary assignment at work, with almost no notice. I was given the details of my new role around noon on Monday, and I was to start my new role on Tuesday morning, whoa! While I was totally psyched about this new role, here’s the kicker, there is no cafeteria in my new building, which means that I had no choice but to pack my entire week’s worth of breakfast and lunches. And guess what, that’s really tough. Packing lunch was actually one of the things that I had decided to “drop-off” from my to-do list after my son was born, which means that I would pack lunch if I had time, but I wouldn’t beat myself up if I didn’t.
Luckily, thanks to the impossibly cold weather, I had actually managed to cook for the week last Sunday. The wind chill was hovering in the negative range, and I didn’t want to take the kids out running around, so I decided to cook instead. I was so glad that we started off the week with several things available to eat for dinner with enough leftover for lunches. If I didn’t have anything at all, we wouldn’t have been scrambling for dinners, and ended up getting take-outs for most nights. I have been relying on a relatively simple and quick recipe like this to be the backbone of our menu rotation for the month. We’re not snobs when it comes to leftovers, as matter of fact, we love leftovers. But at the same time, I can only eat probably the same thing three days in the row.
This recipe is so nice that while chili actually can be done relatively “quick” on the stovetop, it is really awesome in the crock-pot. The meat really has time to simmer with all of the spices, allow for all of the flavors to meld together. This is a stick-to your ribs, good winter meal, that’s really hard to not love. A few notes regarding substitutions:
- I have successfully used wheat sandwich bread instead of white sandwich bread as written below, all I did different was adding a few extra tablespoons of milk.
- I also have used both whole and skim milk (because that’s what I normally have around the house), and it didn’t make a big difference. I think I added extra two tablespoons of the skim milk to make sure that there’s enough liquid to mash the bread.
- If you don’t have any sausages, and want to use two pounds of ground beef – no worries, I have done that before, and it’s not an issue.
- I love extra veggies in my chili, so I included generous amount of chopped peppers. If you want to just stick with onions, you can just use 3 onions and completely skip the peppers.
- The recipe calls for 1/4 of chili powder, while it sounds like A LOT of chili, trust me, after about 6-8 hours of cooking, you will need the entire amount to even have any chili flavor left. Don’t skimp.
- If you have little ones who don’t like spicy food, skip the chipotle chile.
- Last but not least, leftovers can be refrigerated for up to a week or frozen for up to two months.
Have a great week everyone!
Slow Cooker Weeknight Beef Chili
Yield: 10 to 12 servings
- 2 slices high-quality white sandwich bread, torn
- 1/4 cup whole milk
- 1 pound 85 percent lean ground beef
- 1 pound spicy Italian sausages
- Salt and pepper
- 3 tbsp vegetable oil
- 3 onions, chopped medium (same sizes as the peppers below)
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped medium
- 1 yellow bell pepper, chopped medium
- 1/4 cup chili powder
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp ground cumin
- 1 tbsp fresh oregano, minced, or 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 (28-ounce) can tomato puree
- 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
- 2 (15.5-ounce) cans dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- 3 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 2 tsp minced canned chipotle chile in adobo sauce (optional, don't use if you don't want spicy)
- Mash bread and milk into paste in a large bowl using fork or hand. Mix in the ground beef, sausages, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper using hand. Set aside.
- Heat oil in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onions, peppers, chili powder, tomato paste, garlic, cumin, oregano, and red pepper flakes. Cook until vegetables are softened, approximately 8-10 minutes.
- Stir in the beef and sausage mixture, a pound at a time, and cook, breaking up any large pieces with wooden spoon, until the meat is not longer pink, about 3 minutes per pound. Stir in 1 cup of tomato puree, scraping up any browned bits; transfer to slow cooker.
- Add remaining tomato puree, diced tomatoes with juice, beans, soy sauce, sugar and chipotles into slow cooker.
- Cover and set slow cooker to low, about 6 to 8 hours cooking time, or to high, 3 to 5 hours on high. Let chili settle for 5 minutes, then remove fat from surface using large spoon. Break up any remaining large pieces of meat with spoon if any.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.
Slightly adapted from: America’s Test Kitchen Slow Cooker Revolution