This is a spicy, but not spicy hot chili and it’s the perfect chilly night meal! I wasn’t a chili lover until about 15 years ago when I discovered this chili recipe and I fell in love with it. It’s filled with all the usual chili spices, though toned down, but, it also has what I call the “sweet” spices that aren’t overpowering but lend a subtle vavoom to the chili. When people try it, they always look at me with a quizzical face and ask what’s different or unusual about this chili?
With Halloween coming up in a couple of days, I thought this would be the perfect recipe to throw out there, a great make-ahead for your hungry trick-or-treaters. Though to be clear, I don’t mean that you should pass out bowls of chili instead of candy, but feed your family before or after they trick-or-treat. Just in case that was unclear. Wink-wink!
On a chilly day, or after a long day of skiing, trick-or-treating, relaxing, sledding, or working…there is nothing like a crock pot hanging out doing it’s thing filling the air with amazing spices like this unique bone warming chili. I hope you’ll give this one a try!
I’ve added all sorts of things to this chili; try adding pumpkin puree, shredded zucchini and carrots sneaking in some healthy veggies, or make it with ground chicken, turkey or my favorite bison! Mmmmm, good! But for today’s chili lesson we’ll just use good old fashioned ground beef. So let’s start there.
Heat a good sized pan nice and hot (about medium-high) and toss in your ground beef.
Break it up using a heavy duty wooden spoon, or try one of these nifty tools; I bought this several years back from the Pampered Chef and I must say, I do love it, but you don’t need it, a strong wooden spoon or spatula will do the trick!
While your meat is browning, open your cans of beans and drain in a colander in the sink, rinsing them well. You can use the traditional kidney bean or a mixture of beans as I’ve done here, I tend like to black beans or a mix of beans as I’m not a huge fan of copious amounts of kidney beans. I typically use what I have in my pantry, I’ll stock up when they are on sale.
Place drained and rinsed beans in crock or soup pot.
And yes, that is an electric can opener…when I have a lot of cans to open, I pull that puppy out of the cupboard. My hands hurt more and more these days when doing something repetitive, plus it brings me back to my childhood, that low whirring sound of an electric can opener.
Once your meat has browned, drain any large amounts of fat and then place cooked meat in crock pot or large soup pot. I say large, because sometimes there seems to be a lot of liquid that comes out of the meat but by the time my meat has browned most of the liquid is gone, I typically use leaner meats though.
In the same pan you browned your meat in, add 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Once melted, toss in your chopped onion and sauté for several (6-8) minutes until soft and a nice caramel color, once soft, add your garlic stirring until fragrant about a minute.
While your onions are sautéing, pour your can of diced tomatoes (regular, unsalted, roasted, whatever you have in your pantry!) into the crockpot.
And then your can of tomato sauce…
Also while your onions are sautéing (it’s amazing what you can get done while you are making a meal) measure out your spices in a small bowl, starting with from left to right and then down and again left to right…chili powder (adjust according to your likes, I do scant tablespoons), a few shakes of red pepper flakes, tablespoon of brown sugar and ground cloves.
Next add your paprika (I LOOOOVEEE smoked paprika), salt, cumin and oregano. Adjust the spices to your tastes, I’m not a huge fan of cumin, so I tend to put a scant teaspoon in, whereas, I love paprika so it’s quite a few shakes for me!Mix it all around and add the spices to your soft and caramelized onions, stirring over low heat for a minute. This really “blooms” the spices and brings the flavors alive!
Now add those cinnamon sticks, yep, cinnamon sticks. Isn’t it beautiful!? Okay, I admit I get a bit strange about these things.
Take all of that goodness and pour it over your meat in the crockpot, scraping the pan to get every last beautiful morsel.
Next add your fresh parsley. Don’t have fresh, don’t worry just toss in a small handful of dried.
For me, this is the best part of the chili, a can of black olives with their liquid! Maybe you have to be a Meyer (my maiden name) but I L.O.V.E. black olives they have quite a history in our family, but I’ll save that for another time, I love to add them to all sorts of things, soups, chili’s, salads, a bowl, in my mouth, on the tip of each finger…
These next few items are optional, but they sure do add some great nutrition and fiber to your chili! The great part is you won’t even see or taste them as it cooks into the chili.
We’ll start with zucchini, I grated one medium sized zucchini.
Next add your shredded carrots (if desired) or try shredded butternut squash and/or pumpkin puree!
Oh and don’t forget the bay leaf, I somehow missed taking a picture of that, but it’s in there! Just one!
Okay, what’s next in this wonderful chili? That’s it, now stir it all around and place the lid on the crock pot or soup pot, set the crockpot on low for 4-6 hours (it can go longer if needed, just add a ½ cup of additional water before covering it) or if doing on your stovetop, simmer on low for 3-4 hours, if it starts drying out, just add a ½ cup of hot water and stir it in.
I had some leftover barbecue brisket, so decided to dice that and toss that in also; I’m trying to be better about utilizing my leftovers instead of throwing them out after they have turned into science experiments in my refrigerator.
Place that lid on top and don’t lift it until it’s done!
Coming home after a long day of school “Fall” parties (I wish they would call things what they are!), wrangling 30 sugar-high, excited and squirmy kids to do pumpkin bowling or decorate their own pumpkin sugar cookie is exhausting…not joking, it truly is, though it is fun, so coming home to the exotic smell of chili is both warm and comforting, with a full meal all ready to tackle the busy school night or Halloween night, or snowy night, or relaxed weekend night, you get the idea.
Once it’s finished, give it a good stir, taste and adjust the salt and pepper if needed.
Scoop into bowls and top with your favorite toppings. We love sour cream, corn chips and a little shredded cheese. And don’t forget the corn bread, especially if you make this moist, tender and simple Sweet Buttermilk Corn Bread!
Just look at this Sweet Buttermilk Corn Bread are you drooling? I am! It pairs so beautifully with this Firecracker Chili!
Sure to warm you from the inside out!
Chili is kind of hard to photograph, so you might just have to trust me that it’s delicious!
Did you make it? Please rate the recipe and let me know your thoughts and if you did anything differently?
- 1 ½ lbs of ground beef (try bison, turkey or ground chicken)
- 3-16 oz cans of beans (I like kidney, black and pinto), drained and rinsed
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 15 oz can diced tomatoes, with juice
- 1 15 oz can tomato sauce
- ¼ cup fresh parsley, minced (or heaping tablespoon dried)
- 2 tablespoons chili powder (to taste, I use scant tablespoons, use more if you like more heat, less if you want really mild)
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon oregano (dried)
- 1 teaspoon cumin (I used scant, again to desired flavor)
- ½ teaspoon ground cloves
- 2 cinnamon sticks (2 -4 inch)
- 1 bay leaf
- 2-3 shakes (or ½ tsp) crushed red pepper (again to taste, less if you desire less heat)
- 3-5 shakes of paprika (smoked paprika is delicious)
- Dash of Cayenne pepper (if desired)
- 1 large can pitted black olives, with liquid (optional, but add ½ cup water if not using)
- 1 zucchini, grated fine (optional)
- 3 carrots, grated fine (optional)
- 1 15 oz can pumpkin puree (optional)
- TOPPING SUGGESTIONS
- Shredded Cheese, 3 cheese Mexican is our favorite
- Green onions, chopped
- Sour Cream
- Fritos Corn Chips
- Drain and rinse beans, add to crockpot or large soup pot.
- Brown and drain ground meat, add to crock or soup pot.
- While meat is browning, measure out all spices and place in small bowl, stirring to blend. Set aside.
- Pour diced tomatoes and tomato sauce over brown meat and beans.
- In same pan you browned meat, over medium heat; add butter, once melted add diced onions and sauté until soft and caramel colored. About 6-7 minutes.
- Add garlic and sauté 1 minute until fragrant.
- Add bowl of spices to the browned onions and garlic, stir around until spices are fragrant.
- Toss in bay leaf and cinnamon sticks and stir around, remove from heat and pour onion and spice mixture on top of tomatoes.
- If using, add shredded zucchini, carrots and/or pumpkin puree, mix in well.
- Empty can of olives into crock along with juices.
- Cover and cook on low for 4-6 hours (if longer needed, stir in ½ cup water)
- Serve hot with desired toppings.