I’d been eyeing a slow cooker for ages and when I recently joined the club of working mothers, I decided it was finally time to invest in one. I am still giddy about my purchase and have been slowly making my way down a long list of recipes that are adapted to my new helper.
So it is that I have happily discovered that a beef chili lends itself quite graciously to being slow-cooked. If you don’t count the bean preparation (which is low on hands-on time, to be fair), this is fairly quick to prep and delicious to come home to. It also keeps great in the fridge for about a week and much longer in the freezer for a quick weeknight dinner. I started letting my little guy eat this with us from around the age of 18 months, since any earlier than that is a bit too early for the beans.
So do make sure that your beans are soaked and prepped properly (I explain how further down). Also, as with most of my recipes, feel free to play around with the ingredients or just see what you have in the fridge at the moment. Last time I did not have any celery on hand but a ton of chard from my AMAP (French for CSA) and it was just as well!
And last but not least, the chocolate lends a smooth, luxurious touch. Yummm…
- 500 g ground beef
- 1.5 cup dry black beans
- 1 lg onion
- 2 sticks celery, sliced
- 2 carrots, peeled and sliced
- 3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
- 10-12 sundried tomatoes, soaked in hot water
- 2 tablespoons traditional fat (like butter, ghee or coconut oil)
- 600 g jarred tomatoes with the juice (if you have fresh, all the better, but the season is so short around these parts that I rely on the jars more often than not)
- Red pepper paste
- 1 cup chicken or beef broth (or more, depending on how stew-y you like your chili)
- 40 g dark chocolate
- 1 tablespoon cumin (grains)
- 1 tablespoon turmeric
- 1 tablespoon thyme
- 1 cinnamon stick
- Sea salt & pepper to taste
- Hot peppers, optional
- Fresh parsley or cilantro
Here is how to properly prepare the black beans: soak them in warm water the night before (or at least 12h) with an acidic medium like 1 TB of whey or lemon juice. Rinse, add filtered water and bring to a boil, making sure to clear the scum that rises to the surface. Simmer for about 3-4 hours, then drain. (You can do this part a few days ahead and keep the beans in the fridge in the meantime.)
In a heavy pan over medium-high heat, melt the fat. Then start adding the beef, browning it on all sides and breaking down the clumps with a wooden spoon.
Meanwhile melt the red pepper paste in a little warm water.
Transfer the browned meat to the slow cooker and leave the pan on the stove for the next step.
Add some more fat to the pan. Once it starts heating up, add the cumin seeds. Then add the onions, garlic, celery, turmeric and red pepper paste. When the onions become soft, transfer everything to the slow cooker. Turn off the stove.
Add the beans, carrots, tomatoes, sundried tomatoes, cinnamon stick, thyme, hot peppers (if using), broth and chocolate to the slow cooker, and give everything a good stir.
Set on high for 4 hrs. This should provide enough time to clean up and enjoy the rest of your day!
I like to serve this with a rice pilaf and green salad, with some fresh herbs sprinkled on top.