Rush Hour

Winter is a time for comfort food. This is the time of the year when my favorite soups, stews and chilis find their way to my table. And, since I don't really want to spend my time over a stove all day, my crockpot really earns its keep!

Crockpots -- or slow cookers -- are wonderful inventions. What other appliance allows you to spend minutes and end up with a Grandma's Homestyle Dinner at the end of the day? Soft, fall off the bone meat and sauces infused with hearty meat and spices. Few dishes benefit quite as much as chili from a slow simmer for hours. And when it comes to chili, I like mine hot and packed with flavor!

This recipe is one I've adapted to include some of my favorite ingredients. I think chili with black beans is heavenly! Also, I highly recommend using at least one can of roasted diced tomatoes -- the flavor they impart is hard to describe and even harder to part with once you've discovered it.

This recipe makes a big batch of chili. Feel free to serve leftovers over baked potatoes or pasta for a quick meal idea. Top it with everything from sour cream and green onions to shredded cheese and bacon -- or all four! It's comfort food, after all!

As always, I encourage you to share your recipe ideas and comments. You can always post comments in the discussion board using the forms provided in the articles or email me directly at .

Crockpot Chili

  • 2 lbs. ground beef
  • 3 T. vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ tsp. fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • ½ tsp. ground chipotle pepper
  • 1 tsp. crushed red peppers
  • 3 T. chili powder
  • 1 c. water
  • 3 16 oz. cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 16 oz. can kidney beans, drained
  • 1 16 oz. can black beans, drained
  • 1-2 tsp. salt

Brown the ground beef in two batches in a thick-bottomed soup kettle. Drain off the fat and set the browned beef aside. Heat the oil in the kettle over medium high heat, adding the onions when hot. Sauté for 4-5 minutes, stirring often. Add the red bell pepper and garlic, continuing to cook 2-3 more minutes. Add the next five ingredients (black pepper through chili powder) while continually stirring until the spices begin to stick to bottom of kettle and brown (about 30-45 seconds). Quickly add the water. Add the diced tomatoes and the juice they were packed in. Add the beans and salt. Add the beef but try not to include any fat that may have accumulated. Stir. Transfer the chili to the crockpot or slow cooker and let it simmer on low for up to 8 hours before serving.

  • Yields: 7-9 servings
  • Preparation Time: 20 minutes, plus slow cooking time