I have a chili recipe that I’ve been making for almost 20 years. It’s easy and tasty, but…it relies almost entirely on canned ingredients. This is not that recipe. I wanted a chili recipe that was a) easy to assemble, b) cooked in the slow cooker, and c) used very little ingredients from a can.
While this recipe is nothing like my original, it’s a really satisfying and tasty chili. It’s less tomato based, but I found that I didn’t really miss it. You can adjust and add more tomato paste if you’d like more of a tomato base. This chili ends up being more bean and beef than tomato, but still has a lot of the traditional flavors.
It’s also hearty, and I found I was often completely full after just half a cup.
The magic of this recipe? Dried beans that you don’t have to soak! Mine were perfectly tender and creamy after about 8 hours in the crockpot (and about an hour on warm setting because, well, I forgot about it for a little while).
A note about the beans: Do NOT use dried kidney beans without boiling for at least 30 minutes first. Kidney beans contain a toxin that is neutralized with the high heat from cooking. Slow cookers, however, don’t get hot enough. So, use pinto or black. Or partially pre-cook your kidney beans.
And here's how you do it!
Pick over your beans, then rinse, and dump them in the slow cooker. Heat oil in a skillet and add the meat in batches. Cook until caramelized on both sides. The browner the better. When browned, remove from skillet and place in the slow cooker.
Then add the veggies to the skillet and cook until soft. Add a few tablespoons of broth and let it sizzle for a couple seconds. Then scrape up all the browned bits from the bottom of the pan and transfer everything to slow cooker.
Add all remaining ingredients except the masa and water to the slow cooker. Cook on high for 7 hours.
After 7 hours (or in the morning if you cook it overnight), taste the chili and add salt and chili powder if needed. Then mix together the masa and water and stir into slow cooker. Continue cooking on high for 1 hour.
Top with sour cream, shredded cheese, and chopped cilantro.
The Recipe: From Scratch Chili
- 2 lbs beef stew meat or round steak, cubed
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 c. dried pinto beans
- 1 c. dried black beans
- 8 c. broth (or water and added seasoning for taste)
- 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
- 1 green pepper, coarsely chopped
- 1 red pepper, coarsely chopped
- 3 tbsp chili powder, medium heat
- 1 ½ tbsp cumin
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- ½ tsp cayenne pepper or chipotle powder (adjust to desired level of heat)
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- 1 tbsp vinegar
- ¼ c. tomato paste
- 3 roma tomatoes, chopped
- ¼ c. masa flour
- 1 c. warm water
- Spread dried beans on a large cookie sheet. Pick over, removing any small rocks, broken beans, and anything that looks like it doesn’t belong. Rinse and drain.
- Add oil to a skillet over medium-high heat. In two to three batches, brown meat until caramelized on both sides. Remove beef and set aside.
- Add onion and peppers and cook until soft and starting to brown. You may need to add a bit more oil. Deglaze the pan by adding a few tablespoons of broth. Scrape the bottom of the pan to pull up any browned on bits.
- To the slow cooker, add meat, vegetables and deglazed pan sauce, drained beans, broth, spices, vinegar, and tomato paste.
- Cook on high for 7 hours.
- Taste chili. Add salt and chili powder to taste. Mix masa with water to create a paste. Add to slow cooker. Cook for 1 hour on high.
Note: Do not use dried kidney beans for this recipe. They contain a toxin that is neutralized with cooking at high levels of heat, but the slow cooker does not get hot enough.