Mmmmm….I used my slow cooker for the first time this weekend. On the menu – a bean and vegetable chili!
I’ve been trying to eat a lot more meatless dishes lately; it’s part of my campaign of self-improvement: learning to cook and eating better. My food choices are improving, but I still have a preference for beef over chicken or fish! I love all the bad things in life, it seems :)
Beans are a filling alternative to meat that doesn’t have an odd name to tweak my food OCD (quinoa? QUINOA??), so I snapped up a bunch of dried beans the other day. I would have gone with canned, but from my experience, fresh foods way outrank canned foods – and cost less, as well! I’m not sure what all these varieties I’ve purchased are, but I’m going to research – and hey, I could always make a 3 bean salad.
I meant to have the chili finished by Saturday evening, but I didn’t realize that cooking beans was such a time-consuming process. When I woke Saturday morning, I goofed off until 1 or so, and then read how to cook beans (the chili recipe only said “cook beans according to package instructions”). Oops. And so then I soaked the beans for four hours, and simmered them for 90 minutes.
Preparing the vegetables to sautee, I watched many youtube videos on “how to mince garlic” and “how to chop bell pepper.” By the time it asked me for dice potatoes, I shook my head, did something more similar to mincing, and threw them in the pan.
Mincing rather than dicing wasn’t the only change I made to the recipe. Because I like my food spicy, I added a jalapeno pepper to the vegetables, and also threw in an 1/8th teaspoon of my favorite “ghost pepper” sauce – that is just slightly more than I will use in a normal dish, but considering this was going into a large crockpot, I assumed that it would spread out.
I woke up this morning and immediately tasted my creation. Success! It was very well flavored – except – well. It wasn’t bland, for sure, but there was no hint of spiciness whatsoever in my chili. I grabbed the bottle of ghost pepper sauce, filled a teaspoon, threw it in, and stirred. I’m assuming the results are going to be much more spicy than before – maybe too spicy for some, but that is what sides like cole slaw and cornbread are for.
I have a lot of chili! I’m definitely glad for my freezer bags – tonight, I’ll be dishing this out and stacking it in the freezer for those days when I simply don’t feel like cooking. I’m looking for more recipes like that, so if you have any “frozen dinner” recipes, please share!
I think next time, I’ll definitely add more chili powder and other assorted spices. It had a full taste, but I wanted bolder flavors. Any suggestions as to what I could add? Is one jalapeno enough, or should I add 2? I picked up a habenero bbq sauce (another local production) the other day that I think would add a delicious flavor to this – but I think I’d want it to be in a chili with meat.
3 cups dry small red beans or pinto beans (about 1 bag)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion sliced thinly (I used 1/2 a red onion because I’m allergic – the stronger flavor helps)
4 cloves of garlic minced well
1 jalapeno pepper, sliced (my addition)
1 bell pepper, coarsely chopped (I used red)
1/2 cup red unpeeled diced potatoes
1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes undrained
1 teaspoon chili powder (use more if you wish)
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon ghost pepper hot sauce (my addition)
1/2 cup uncooked brown rice (may use white if you wish)
5 cups water or vegetable broth
salt and pepper to taste
grated cheese for garnish, if desired
Cook beans according to package directions, until tender (note: this part takes at least 5~6 hours, so prepare beforehand!). Drain. Put beans in slow cooker.
In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat oil or a small amount of liquid; saute onion and garlic until soft, about 3 to 5 minutes (note: I also sliced and added a whole jalapeno pepper for this step).
Add bell pepper, cabbage, potatoes, tomatoes, chili powder and cumin. Continue cooking, stirring frequently for 3 minutes; transfer to slow cooker.
(note: I added 1/8th teaspoon of Dave’s Gourmet Ghost Pepper naga jolokoa hot sauce to this step; I might have added 1/2 teaspoon instead for a spicier flavor!)
Add rice and broth; cover and cook on LOW for 5 to 7 hours or until chili is thick and rice and beans are tender.
Season to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish with shredded cheese if desired.