Tuesday, September 25, 2012

It's Officially Autumn: Time to Make Some Crock Pot Chili!

I had something going on four of five nights last week, and my poor roommate did all the menu planning, shopping, and cooking. I vowed to shoulder more of the burden this week, so when I got home from choir practice last night at about 9pm, I forced myself to get something started in the crock pot for dinner the next day. We just had chili at the birthday party we attended on Saturday night, but I wanted more! So I rummaged around in the pantry, found my latest shipment of the beloved Rancho Gordo beans, chose the dark red heirloom pintos, Rio Zape, and got to work.

I rinsed the beans and added them to the crock pot, covered with a few inches of water, and cooked them on low overnight to give the dry beans a head start. I also browned the ground beef and the vegetables, and combined this with the tomato products and seasonings, and refrigerated this mixture overnight so that I could just dump it in the crock pot and run off to work the next day. Served with some shredded jack cheese and a dollop of sour cream and/or some corn salsa, and a toasty, spicy, autumnal weeknight dinner is done!

Crock Pot Rio Zape Chili

1 lb. Rancho Gordo Rio Zape beans (or dried pintos)
1 lb. ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
1 tablespoon roasted hot peppers, chopped (or use one can mild green chiles plus hot sauce to taste)
6 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
2 tablespoons dark chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground celery
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 28 oz.can crushed tomatoes
16 oz. chili sauce

Rinse dry beans thoroughly, add to the crock pot, cover with three inches of water, and cook on low overnight. The next morning, drain the beans, but reserve the liquor. Brown the ground beef with the onion, hot peppers, and garlic. When the meat no longer has any pink, stir in all of the seasonings, then add this mixture to the beans in the crock pot*. Pour in the tomatoes and chili sauce and mix everything together. (You may wish to add up to two cups of the reserved bean liquor to thin the chili to a desired consistency.) Cook on low for another 6-8 hours. Serve with your favorite chili toppings, such as grated cheese, sour cream, sliced green onions, and/or corn chips.

*If the beans are already tender enough by morning, then drain, reserve the liquor, and stash the beans in the fridge. Then cook the meat and tomato mixture by itself (thinned with some liquor) for 6-8 hours on low and add the beans back to the crock pot about 15 minutes to a half hour before serving, just to bring them back to temperature.

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