Friday, February 15, 2013

Two of Texans' Favorite Things in One Slow Cooker (With Vegetarian and Vegan Options... Which is Decidedly Not Texan)

Chili is delicious all by itself.  I make it a lot because it's cheap, nutritious, can cook all day long in the crock pot, and it tastes amazing.  It's variable: you can make it meatless, use meat substitutes like tofu, use all fresh ingredients, use all canned ingredients... it's the ultimate busy mom food.

And beer.  When you get a really good beer, one that is fresh and fizzy with just the right bitter/sweet balance and body, there is very little that is as satisfying. 

And Texans love to eat red meat and beer together any chance they get.  So I skipped a step and put them in the same pot.  And it was awesome.

The smell all by itself is intoxicating (haha! But seriously, the chili won't get you drunk and it really is awesome).

So I decided to share this delicious recipe with you folks, along with my notes about ingredients :)


Beer Chili Recipe
1 lb beans (I used red kidney beans) or 4 cans of canned beans
1 bottle of your favorite beer
5 Roma tomatoes, chopped (or 3 large beefsteak tomatoes or 2 cans of diced tomatoes)
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, chopped
3 Tb (or to taste) each chili powder and cumin
1 Tb (or to taste) creole seasoning
1 Tb (or to taste) garlic salt
1 lb ground beef, ground turkey or finely chopped firm or extra firm tofu (or skip this if you prefer meatless chili.  It's still good, I promise.  I made it once without meat and my husband asked me what kind of meat I used in it, no joke... but I digress...)


If using dried beans, cook them until they're done.  This goes faster if you soak them overnight.  If you did not soak them use a 3-to-1 water/bean ratio.  If you did soak, 2-to-1 is fine.  You can do this in the slow cooker if you don't want to bean-sit, or you can do it on the stove if you're willing to stir a little bit in return for a faster cooking time.

Drain the beans, rinse them if they are canned.  Put them in your crock pot and pour in one bottle of your favorite beer.  Use a decent beer.  If you dump in a can of Keystone you're not doing yourself or your chili any favors.  I used Blue Moon's Pale Ale.  Other good choices would be regular Blue Moon, Killian's Irish Red, Guinness, Sam Adams, etc.  You get the idea.  Still pretty cheap as far as alcohol goes, but a little better than the American "lite" beers.

Add in the tomatoes, peppers, onion and all of the seasonings.  Stir, cover and cook on high heat for 2-3 hours or low heat for 4-5 hours.

When the veggies are cooked through, brown the beef/turkey/tofu in a skillet and add to the chili.

At this point the chili is done.  You could eat it if you're desperate, but letting it cook for at least another hour or so on low is ideal, since all the flavors will meld and make magic happen in the pot.  It's hard to overcook this chili in a slow cooker.  You could leave it be all day on low (or warm, if it's completely done) if you wanted and it would be ready when you were.

I like to serve chili with cheddar cheese and corn chips or corn muffins.  Corn muffins are super easy and fast to make and when you use whole-grain corn and/or wheat flours you get yourself a complete protein when combined with the beans, in case you're going meatless.


Whole Grain Corn Muffins

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 cup finely ground undegerminated corn meal (tip in the directions)
1/3 cup sugar (granulated or turbinado)
2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt
1 egg
1/4 cup oil (canola, extra light olive, melted coconut, melted butter... use your personal preference)
1 cup milk


Mix the flour, sugar, baking powder salt and corn meal together.  Undegerminated corn meal is a whole grain, but it's hard to find sometimes.  Check your local health food store. If you still can't find it, try  If you can't find it and don't want to pay shipping it's fine to use regular, degerminated corn meal.

Crack in the egg, dump in the oil and milk and mix it all together.  Grease a muffin tin and fill each cup 2/3 full of the muffin mixture.  Bake at 400 degrees for 18-22 minutes, or until they look firm and well risen, slightly golden brown around the edges.


A note: you could even make these recipes vegan by omitting the meat in the chili and subbing tofu or not using any meat sub, and using soy or almond milk (unsweetened!) in the corn bread.  Replace the egg with a little apple sauce, reducing the sugar by a little if you do. 


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