There’s nothing like coming home to a fresh cooked meal. Unfortunately robot maids have not hit the market yet (according to The Jetsons we’re only 51 years away from have a Rosie.) Alas, I turn to the slow cooker. Now that I’m logging more hours at work I’ve come to reevaluate the handy appliance. Throw on a slow cooker liner and you eliminate the clean-up too. I’m sold.

I enjoy just about every kind of chili but if I had to choose an absolute favorite, it’s the thick, beefy kind full of beans and tomatoes. America’s Test Kitchen pulls through again with this easy chili recipe. Though the ingredient list is long, they meld together in a phenomenal way. Mashing the bread and milk with the ground beef creates really tender meat. The chili also makes a great leftover– just cook it slow or it’ll explode in the microwave and your coworkers will hate you…

Slow-Cooker Beef Chili

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1 slice white sandwich bread, torn in half

3 tablespoons milk

1 pound 85 percent lean ground beef

salt and pepper

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 small onion, minced

2 tablespoons chili powder

2 tablespoons tomato paste

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce

1 (15-ounce) can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed

1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes

1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 1/2 teaspoons brown sugar

1 teaspoon minced canned chipotle chile in adobo sauce

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Line your slow-cooker or spray with nonstick vegetable oil spray. Mash bread and milk into paste in large bowl using fork. Mix in ground beef, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper using hands.

Heat oil in 10-inch skillet over medium high heat until shimmering. Add onion, chili powder, tomato paste, garlic, cumin, oregano, and red pepper flakes and cook until lightly browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in beef mixture and cook, breaking up any large pieces, until no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Stir in tomato sauce. Transfer to slow cooker.

Stir in beans, diced tomatoes with juice, soy sauce, sugar, and chipotle into slow cooker. Cover and cook until beef is tender, 6 to 7 hours on low.

Let chili settle for 5 minutes, then remove fat from surface using large spoon. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve.

Serving ideas: lime wedges, minced fresh cilantro, chopped tomato, minced onion or scallions, diced avocado, shredded cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese, and/or sour cream. Or all by itself with some corn bread!

Serves 4

Source: Test Kitchen Cooking for Two 2011

Do you have any favorite slow cooker recipes? I could use some more!

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