jp's Black Bean Chili (crockpot)

jp's Black Bean Chili (crockpot)

One of my easy winter crockpot favorites is black bean chili.

1 cup dry black beans (no pre-soaking necessary)
1 can of diced tomatoes (the can size that is about 14-16 oz., though you can go larger if you'd prefer)
1 lb of ground beef (I actually use ground bison instead of beef)
1/2 to 1 onion, diced (optional)
3-4 cups liquid (water works just fine)

seasonings to suit

Brown the meat. Drain the fat if there's a lot of it (don't bother if there's not much). Rinse the beans. Chop the onion if you're using it. Open the can of tomatoes.

Put the meat, beans, onion, and the tomatoes into the crockpot. Yes, you want the liquid in the can of tomatoes. Add about 3-4 cups of liquid. Water is fine, though you can use other liquids for part of it. Turn on the crockpot and walk away.

Cook for 4-5 hours on high, 6-10 hours on low, or some combination of the above. It's done when the beans are done.

If the liquid is too low, add more. I usually start with 3 cups liquid and add more only if it's necessary or if I want a soup or stew instead of chili. If I'm not going to be around all day, I'll start with a bit more water just in case.

I do my seasonings in the last half hour or so of cooking. For chili, I use some combination of salt, garlic powder, oregano, cumin, and chili powder (or dried ground chile). Sometimes I'll add a few sploots of Worcestershire sauce or Tabasco or Sriracha or olive oil. You could easily get by with merely using commercial chili powder, to taste.

If you want to use canned beans, I suspect that 1-2 cans would be about right. But if you do that, there's no real point in using a crockpot. It can be cooked on the stove in very little time.

You can use already cooked meat instead of the ground beef, or stew meat instead of the ground meat, or some other kind of meat, or whatever makes your life easier. You can use different beans, though the black beans makes for a deeply-colored, rich-tasting sauce. You can vary the seasonings if you want to skew it towards a different ethnic family. Add more liquid and call it a stew or a soup. And so on.

We really like this black bean chili after a day spent outdoors in the wintertime. I love the simplicity -- 1 cup beans, 1 can tomatoes, 1 lb ground meat, 3 to 3.5 cups water, turn on crockpot and walk away. It goes together in the length of time it takes to get the meat ready. It also makes a pretty good dish to take to a potluck.



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