Chili & Slow-Cooker Beans

30 Thu, 2010 § 2 Comments

Christine [Dave’s sister] made an amazing batch of chili for a camping trip once.  We could not figure out what secret touch she had used that made this chili so much tastier than any we had eaten before:

S A L S A !

So obvious once she said it.  A simple bottle of salsa can determine the heat, accent & flare of your chili.  Plus, can it get much easier?

Chili is the perfect plan-ahead-low-maintenance meal.  Just throw it in a crockpot & walk away, whether it is for work, school or errands.  The longer is stews, the more the flavors marry & the more delicious it becomes.  When you return, your house will be overflowing with spicy aroma & a bowl full of flavor is at your fingertips.

Or plateful if you are like me & like your chili thick.

Get your crockpot out early though, because you can cook your dried beans in it before combining the chili!  I hope you are not intimidated by the idea of cooking your own beans; it is not difficult just more time consuming & a lot cheaper more cost efficient…& by cooking them in the crockpot, you can leave the house for a couple hours & not fret about a burner being on.  Just remember to soak your beans before cooking them to make them more digestible — different beans soak for different amounts of time & some don’t need to soak at all — soaking overnight is a good general rule to follow though.  I might actually prefer the quick soak method*.  It takes less time, I often prefer the texture & digest the beans best this way.  Please enlighten me if there is a major benefit to the long soak method though.


*Quick Soak

Add the dried beans to a pot & fill with water to ~3 inches above the beans.

Bring to boil & let simmer 3 – 5 minutes, skimming off any foam that collects on the surface — this is key in increasing digestibility/eliminating some of the gaseous effect.

Remove from heat, cover & let stand 1 hour.

Drain water.  Rinse & cook beans according to type.


My favorite chili beans are a 14-bean mix from Butte Creek Mill [in Eagle Point, Oregon] my mother-in-law sent last Christmas along with a care package from the mill.  They have some really amazing products.  In theory it should be easy to replicate this mix, but the portions they use are perfect.  It has everything from large butter beans to small black-eyed peas to various lentils & split peas to kidney & cranberry beans to white & black beans.  I am sad I just used the last of mine.

Now to cook your “soaked” beans in the crockpot,

First preheat your crockpot on the high setting.  [I like to have it hot before I add the beans.]

Fill the stove-top pot again with beans & the appropriate amount of water.

Bring to a boil on the stove & again skim off any foam that forms.

Very carefully, pour the beans & boiling water into the crockpot.  I always throw a small piece of kombu on top of the cooking beans; there has been a noticeable difference in digestibility since doing this.  [Kombu is a seaweed you can find in the Asian food aisle.]

Cover beans & allow to simmer for about the same amount of time it takes on the stove top.

Once cooked, drain any remaining water & stir in your chili ingredients.

Normally, Dave & I are all about spicy.  This time our chili wasn’t “spicy” but just as delicious.   The cumin added a touch of heat, & I loved the way the nutmeg played with the paprika.

I started with 2 cups of dried beans, which turned into just over 4 after soaking.  If you are not cooking your own beans, use 2 15-oz cans of store-bought beans [red & light kidney beans are a good choice].

Sweet & Smokey Chili

adapted from Christine’s Chili

serves 4

  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 2 – 3 cloves garlic, minced

Saute onion & garlic until soft, fragrant & translucent.  [You can also brown meat at this time if you are a meat-in-your-chili-type guy or gal.]

Combine all ingredients, along with the beans, in a slow-cooker for several hours on low [or heat on the stove top for at least 1 hour].

  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt [my tomato sauce had salt, so I didn’t want to add much more]
  • 1 15-oz can tomato sauce [If you like thinner chili, add another 1/2 – 1 can of sauce.]
  • 8 oz salsa of choice [I used a bottle of mom’s homemade. Mmm.]
  • 1 T grainy mustard
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes, crushed
  • 3/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 3/4 tsp cumin seeds, ground
  • 1/2 tsp paprika [smoked if you can find it]

The perfect scooping vessel for chili:

Sweet potato fries baked with coconut oil, paprika & sea salt.  The paprika is my favorite part of these.


Do you like your chili spicy or rich & savory?

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§ 2 Responses to Chili & Slow-Cooker Beans

  • Ashley says:

    This sure is my favorite chili!! She had also added in tofu meat when we were camping right? Last time I made it I did without and the boys cooked up some bison meat to add in to their portions. It was delicious….now I’m hungry 😛

    • Allie says:

      She does use tofu grounds in her chili. I’m not a huge fan of ground meat or “meat”…it’s a texture thing. Having the guys grill up bison meat for their portions was a great idea — large pieces or ground? I should remember to do that for Dave.

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