It’s about this time of year that I have to start filling up my freezer with healthy food on the off-chance that we might get snowed in for a few days. And if the snow doesn’t happen, then this classic crockpot chili will get you through a couple of cold days anyway. It is also one of the things I really want to eat when I have some kind of winter cooties and don’t want to cook. So there’s a few reasons why I make this in the massive batch that I do: this is a recipe that will take care of 5 lbs of ground beef! The sheer size makes it perfect for a large crock pot batch, but even then I have to cook down the veggies a little before everything will fit. If you want to skip that extra sauteing step, you can, by cutting the recipe down to about 4 lbs of meat and scaling the seasonings appropriately, but the catch is that it will turn out to be more watery or soup-like because of the water in the vegetables. Whatever you do, though, make as big of a batch as you can stand: it’s just a great freezer standby powerhouse.
First up brown your meat in batches and chop your veggies. You want to brown the meat just to get rid of the extra juices / fat. Drain the meat in each batch and put in the bottom of your crock pot. While you’re browning the meat, get chopping! Dice all your vegetables pretty finely and set them aside.
Once you’ve finished dealing with the browning stage and all the meat is in the bottom of the crock pot, add your veggies to a little hot oil in a large pan. You’re going to want to saute these down until the onions are starting to become translucent and the volume of vegetables in the pan is beginning to reduce.
What we’re trying to do here is to cook out as much of the extra moisture as possible. Once the pan has reduced by about a third, add in your spices and stir through
Continue to cook your veggie mixture until the spices are fragrant and the volume in the pan has reduced a little more. Drain your diced tomatoes (I used some with some extra green chiles in them) and add to the pan. Give everything a stir and cook for a few more minutes until you can see that there is only a little moisture left in the pan. All in all, the saute step should take about 20 minutes. Tip this mixture over the beef in the crock pot and pat down so that it’s level and not too high up the crock pot pan. Pour in your beef stock.
My crock pot takes about 4 hours on high or 6 hours on low, but keep an eye on this after a few hours to see how it’s doing. After the first couple of hours there should be enough liquid in the crock pot to stir everything together evenly, too. When mine had about an hour to go I added a couple of teaspoons of arrowroot mixture to thicken it a little and a square of 100% cacao chocolate for some extra flavor.
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