I love fall. And mostly because it means I can get some good use out of my slow cooker. One of the well-loved fall slow cooker meals in our house is simply chili. It's a recipe I've been perfecting for years.
I love chili for many reasons, but mostly because everyone has their own secret recipe and fall is the perfect chance to get to try them.
Chili isn't the same the world round. East Coast, the South and the Midwest all have their own way to create chili, and of course, each region thinks theirs is the ONLY way to go.
What's funny is my "secret" recipe is combination of both Texas-style chili and Cincinnati chili, with a bit of a Southern twist.
Texas chili has a plethora of local chile varieties incorporated in it and usually replaces ground beef with chunks of stew meat or steak. Also, it rarely includes beans.
Cincinnati chili requires a lot of beans and the addition of vinegar, cinnamon and chocolate. It is then generously ladled over spaghetti noodles.
Both recipes quite different, and both pretty darn tasty.
I prefer my own chili recipe, and I, of course, think it is a winner. I like to add a little Southern flair, as well. But you be the judge!
- Twinkle's "Secret" Chili Recipe:
- 1 lb. dry red kidney beans
- 1 lb. stew beef
- 4-5 fresh chilies – jalapeños, ancho, habanero, etc.
- 2 cups canned diced tomatoes in juice
- ¼ cup Masa flour
- 2 tbs. cumin
- 3 Bay leaves
- 1 tsp. red pepper flakes
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- 1tbs. cocoa
- 1 tbs. cracked black pepper
- 1 tbs. salt
- 2 stalks green onions, diced
- 1 small red onion, diced
- 3 medium tomatoes, diced
- 6 garlic cloves, minced
- 8 cups of vegetable stock
Rinse and sort beans, picking out any rocks or shriveled beans.
Place beans in a heavy pot, cover with water and replace lid. Bring water to a boil for five minutes, remove from heat and let soak for about an hour – quick way to soak beans.
While beans are soaking, dice veggies sans tomatoes and sauté for about 10 minutes. Place in slow cooker.
Sear stew meat quickly and place in slow cooker with vegetables.
Pour in canned tomatoes with juice and vegetable stock and turn on high.
Add beans when done soaking.
Let chili cook down for about 3 hours to let all the natural juices soak through.
At about 3 hours, stir and begin to add the spices, mixing them in slowly – cumin, cinnamon, cocoa, red pepper flakes and black pepper.
Let cook for another hour, then slowly sift in the masa flour. This not only adds a great corn flavor, but acts as a thickening agent.
Let cook another 30 minutes and add the salt, a little at the time, testing the taste.
*Pro-Tip: You don't want to add the salt until the end in most recipes. Beans, potatoes, noodles and so forth soak up the salt and trick your taste buds, making you think you need to add more salt, raising the sodium levels.
Let the chili cook down for five hours all together and serve over crumbled homemade cornbread, Southern style.
Twinkle VanWinkle was born in a small town in Mississippi. A life-long lover of music, media and food, she grew up following those three things along her path. She has almost 20 years of professional cooking under her apron strings, feeding thousands of friends, family and other folks while working in restaurants and bakeries in Oxford, Miss. She baked 300 apple pies for the "Oprah Winfrey Show" and appeared on "The Best Of..." in the same year. Along with producing dynamic entertainment content for LIN Media, she is a mother, musician and social media fanatic.
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