I think chilis are one of the best types of recipes for crock pot cooking, they just get richer as they cook down, and, while some dishes suffer in the looks department after a day in the crock pot, chili seems to thrive.
To make this chili special I loaded up on Hatch chile peppers. Hatch chiles are New Mexican chiles with a super short season, from mid August through September. They range from mild to medium hot, and they have a cult following among chiliheads everywhere because of their meaty flesh and great flavor. Fire roasting, or in this case, broiler roasting, brings out that flavor and adds a special character to this meal.
There are a few ways to roast a pepper, all of them easy. I lay mine out on a lined cookie sheet and put them under the broiler at the at the closest setting to the flame. It took just a few minutes per side to get nice and charred. You could also do this on an outdoor grill, with a kitchen torch, or just by holding them with a pair of tongs over the gas flame on your stove top. The aim to get the skin scorched. You can either chop them up and use as is, or put them in a plastic baggie to steam for a few minutes. That loosens the skin and you can peel it right off. Scrape out the seeds with a small knife and chop them up.
Even though Hatch peppers got top billing, this is a meaty chili, with both ground beef and chunks of stew meat in the recipe. I do like to brown the meats before adding them to the crock pot, it only takes a few minutes and is so worth it. After that it’s a chop and drop affair, and, of course, the long leisurely hands-off cooking time that crock pots are famous for.
You don’t need to add much liquid to the pot because the slow cooking retains all the moisture. I use beer and tomato sauce as my base. Drain and rinse your pinto beans well before adding them to get rid of the canned flavor.
- 1 lb stew meat
- 1 lb ground beef (15%fat)
- vegetable oil for browning
- salt and fresh cracked black pepper
- 1/2 large yellow onion, diced
- 3/4 lb Hatch chiles (about 6-8)
- 1 cup beer
- 8 oz tomato sauce
- 1 Tbsp chili powder'
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp sweet paprika
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 15 oz can of pinto beans, drained and rinsed well
- 1 Tbsp cornmeal (for thickening)
- thinly sliced green onions
- fresh cilantro
- grated cheese
- Coat the bottom of a large heavy skillet or pot with oil and heat until hot. Brown the stew beef on all sides. Do this in two batches. Put the browned beef in the crock pot.
- Add another bit of oil to the pan and brown the ground beef. Add it to the crock pot.
- Add the beer and the tomato sauce, along with the onions. Stir in the spices, salt and pepper.
- Put the lid on a turn to low.
- In the meantime, set your broiler on high and put the rack in the highest position. Arrange the chiles on a lined baking pan. Broil until the chilies are blackened, then flip them and char the other side.
- Remove from the oven and immediately put them on a platter or plate and cover tightly with plastic wrap. You can also put them in a zip lock baggie. Leave them to steam for 15 minutes, then remove them. Slice off the stem ends, and slip off the outer skins, which will come off easily. Slice the peppers open lengthwise and scrape our the seeds. Chop the flesh.
- Add the peppers and the pinto beans to the crock pot and let the chili cook for 6 hours on low.
- If you like your chili thicker, stir in the cornmeal towards the end of the cooking time.
- Taste the chili to adjust any of the spices, and then serve topped with cheese, green onions, and cilantro.
The garnishes are key to making the slow cooked chili look fresh. I added a pre-shredded Mexican blend cheese, some thinly sliced green onions, and lots of fresh cilantro. Add them just before serving.