Slow Cooker Chili

I decided this year I was going to make peace with my slow cooker. I was surprised by how much I didn’t take to it, which I’ve documented here and there. Like bread machines, Instant Pots, Thermomix, and cast irons skillets, someone wrote about the latter on my Facebook page, “It’s just a PAN…” (in all-caps), they certainly have their fans. I do like my cast iron skillet very much, but my life doesn’t change radically when I reach for mine. Although wouldn’t it be great if that was all it took? 😀

My appliance company gave me the slow cooker after I hounded them for three years to get reimbursed for a dishwasher repair charge they said they’d reimburse me for. I was happy to have finally settled that debt and move on with my life, but am still unclear as to why it took three years for them to tell me they couldn’t send me a check for reimbursement. Since I already had a grille-pain (toaster), a robot (food processor), and a boulloire (hot water kettle), I went with the slow cooker, which I’ve been determined to fall in love with.


In the spirit of trying to make peace with the world, as a tumultuous 2020 comes to a close, I did find three things my slow cooker does very well: Rice, chicken stock, and apple butter. The rice came out so well I gave away my rice cooker. As for stock, the extra-long simmering really drew out the flavors; I simply dropped everything in the magic pot, turned it on, and returned a few hours later to a pot of rich, warm, fragrant stock.

The apple butter, however, wasn’t popular with my Frenchman, who wouldn’t eat it since the color and texture reminded him of something less-appetizing. He also wouldn’t eat the pork shoulder I slow-cooked, which I thought was a foolproof cut of meat, but he said it was trop sec (dry), and after trying to pretend it wasn’t dry – because I didn’t want to admit he was right – I finally caved.


Another vow I made in 2020 was to go through my kitchen and refrigerator and use what I’ve got, I had some unmarked heirloom dried beans on hand and wanted to use them. Dried beans in France are usually quite hard to cook. The water is calcium-rich and even using bottled water or baking soda doesn’t necessarily soften tough beans. I try to buy them from a local source so they’re fresh, but couldn’t recall where my beans were from as I’d transferred them to a jar. So I decided to make a dish that benefits from a long, leisurely cooking time, and that (sometimes, controversially) uses beans. And that would be chili.

Re: Beans in chili. We all know sugar isn’t traditionally used in cornbread, although the argument that adding a teaspoon of sugar to a batter makes it “cake” is questionable as I’ve not seen a cake recipe that calls for a teaspoon of sugar. (If you know of one, let me know because I get asked for low-sugar desserts all the time.) People were surprised to hear that cooked vegetables don’t belong on a traditional Salade Niçoise. But especially this year, due to the pandemic, I saw people in other parts of the globe walking miles just to get a cup of rice to feed their family, or watching their food supply get decimated by insects. It made me appreciate my stocked refrigerator and kitchen cabinets – and chocolate stash – even more, and the fact that I can walk a block or two and get pretty much everything I want to eat. So while all that stuff makes for interesting debates, I am very grateful to have food and the luxury of choices.

(In To Bean or Not to Bean; Jumping into the Chili Debate talks about the origin and evolution of chili if you want to take a deeper dive into that discussion.)


Anyhow, let’s make dinner, shall we?

French people like chili although chili powder isn’t widely available. I was fortunate to find that I had a jar of it in my international spice cabinet. (There are so many interesting spices and seasonings in there!) Ground beef, of course, is available, as are most of the other ingredients. Curiously, I was at the market and one of the producteur stands (people who grow the food they sell) had a wooden box of fresh chilis (shown above), which looked awfully similar to jalapeños, although they couldn’t recall the name of them. So I used those, as well as this coffee salt I was gifted, in the spirit of using things up.

In this LA Times piece by esteemed food writer Russ Parsons, “Don’t soak your dried beans! Now even the cool kids agree,” he tested various methods of cooking dried beans and found presoaking unnecessary, And Joe Yonan, food editor of The Washington Post and author of Cool Beans: The Ultimate Guide to the World’s Most Versatile Plant-Based Protein, with 125 Recipes says that ‘…soaking beans is not required, and the flavor is best if you don’t soak.’ (I paraphrased him there.) I’m the first to admit that old habits die hard, but I didn’t presoak the beans and the world kept turning.

Whatever beans I had worked beautifully in the chili, although I did make it again with supermarket dried beans*, which required more time in the slow cooker than the ones I had used the first time. So feel free to cook them longer if necessary.

Slow-Cooker Chili

Adapted from Anna Painter via Food & Wine
Making your own chili powder is possible and recipes abound online. I fiddled with the original chili recipe, adding some chocolate for richness, but not enough to make it sweet. You could swap out ground chicken or turkey for the beef. If so, use ground dark meat as white meat is too lean.
My slow cooker has a sauté option, so I made it all in the machine. But if yours doesn't, make it through step #2 in a wide skillet.
Course Main Course
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, peeled and diced
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 3 jalapeños, diced (seeded and ribs removed, if you want it milder)
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano, preferably Mexican
  • 1 pound (450g) ground beef, preferably 15% fat
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt , (if using Morton kosher salt, reduce the amount by half)
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • two 14-ounce (400ml each) cans diced tomatoes
  • small bunch (2 1/2 ounces, 80g) fresh cilantro leaves and stems, chopped
  • 1 pound (450g) dried beans*
  • 6 1/2 cups (1,5l) water, or 4 1/2 cups (1l) water and 2 cups (500ml) beer
  • 1 1/2 ounces (45g) unsweetened chocolate
  • Heat the oil over medium-high heat or on the sauté function, if your machine has one. (See headnote.) Add the diced onion and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until cooked through and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and jalapeños and cook 2 minutes more, stirring occasionally, then stir in the chile powder, cumin, and oregano, stirring and cooking for 30 seconds or so, until fragrant.
  • Add the ground meat, along with the salt, pepper, diced tomatoes, and cilantro, and stir until everything is well-combined.
  • Add the water (or water and beer), the dried beans, and chocolate to the slow cooker. Stir well, then set the heat to 200ºF (95ºC). Depending on your machine, check the manual (or the manufacturer's website) that came with your machine to find out if that's low or high. On my machine it's called "Simmer."
  • Cook the chile for 7 hours, until the beans are tender. Taste, and season with additional salt if necessary, before serving.

Notes

Unsweetened chocolate has no sugar in it and it called 100% pâte de cacao in France, which is available at G. Detou, although I'm seeing it more and more in French supermarkets. You can also use high-percentage chocolate, such as Lindt 90% to 99%, or omit it. 
Serving: Serve hot with bowls of grated cheese, sour cream, and chopped cilantro for garnish. 
*Dried Bean Note: It's noted that a slow cooker is not recommended for cooking kidney beans. Since I called for "dried beans" in the recipe, avoid using kidney beans unless they are boiled first. Choose another variety, such as pinto beans, which are similar to the ones I used, shown in the photo in the post. 
Slow Cooker Chili

81 comments

  • Chris
    December 20, 2020 12:42pm

    I’ve never made chilli in the slow cooker, mostly because I worry it won’t develop complex flavour because it doesn’t reduce, but after reading this I might have to give it a try. Your recipe is very similar to mine, but I always throw in a couple of anchovies as well as 2 squares of Lindt 85%. Reply

    • December 20, 2020 12:46pm
      David Lebovitz

      The good thing about the slow cooker is that it does reduce, at least in mine (mine has a vent in the lid I can slide open or close.) But some of the pots of various types of slow cookers don’t open, although you can lift in the lid, which I did a few times to check the progress. Reply

  • Adriana Gutierrez
    December 20, 2020 12:50pm

    I too, never fell in love with the slow cooker and got rid of it in anticipation of a major move, now on hold due to thempandemic. I am working at “liking” (not loving) the Instant Pot and will give it’s slow cooker function a go on this recipe.

    If you have access to poblano peppers, I think they are superior to green bell peppers. Reply

  • Gavrielle
    December 20, 2020 1:06pm

    Although I have the feeling you’re more of a baguette and cafe au lait breakfast kinda guy, in case it’s helpful: what I have found my slow cooker useful for is cooking steel-cut oats. I throw them in there at night (I like ’em with either banana and cinnamon or apple and ginger) and they’re ready in the morning with very little fuss. Thanks for the stock tip (ha!)! I’m definitely trying that. Reply

    • Todd
      January 10, 2021 7:17pm

      Another very easy and fool proof method for making steel cut oats the night before: 1 cup oats, 3 cups water, 1/2 tsp salt and 2 tbsp butter. Bring water, salt and butter to a boil. Dump in oats, stir, cover and turn off the heat. In the morning they will be perfectly done. Reply

  • December 20, 2020 1:39pm

    Thanks for the recipe! I’m a little shocked that you’re not using a tomato product, but since tomatoes kind of disgust me, that’s okay.

    I have an Instant Pot (interestingly, we didn’t buy it either, it was a gift from my sister), and I’m of the David Chang-school of thought that the best thing it does is cook beans. We can get the job done in 80 minutes (also without bean soaking) using the pressure setting, but I’ll give the slow cooker setting a shot. I love the idea of walking away from the kitchen for that long :-)

    OOps! There are tomatoes in this but I forgot to say what step to add them in. Fixed! -dl Reply

    • Ellie
      December 20, 2020 2:50pm

      There are tomatoes in the recipe, toward the bottom of the ingredients list. Reply

  • Georgeann Brown
    December 20, 2020 2:13pm

    The slow cooker was a life saver when I acquired a husband and 3 teen-age children many years ago. Never had great luck cooking dried beans (it was a common joke in the family) but I will give this recipe a go and ‘walk away Renee’. Reply

    • John Emerson
      December 20, 2020 6:45pm

      Im from Texas now transported to the mountains of British Columbia, but still cooking chili and TexMex. In my chili, I use 2 cups of beef broth or consommé as part of the liquid ingredients. At the end, I thicken with 2 tablespoons of Masa flour. Adds another layer of flavor. I use dark red kidney beans & Mexene brand chili powder. Gotta try a bit of chocolate next time! Thanks David for tons of inspiration! John Reply

      • Andrew Lage
        December 20, 2020 8:40pm

        That sounds like a great recipe. Winter in Iowa is the chili season! Reply

  • Leu2500
    December 20, 2020 2:17pm

    Slow cookers are also great for warm beverages, like the vin chaud you mentioned in your Q&A

    As for dry pork, that may be a recipe issue. I also find that meat should be checked ~1 hour before the time given. Don’t know if this is just a US issue… I really like Beth Hensperger’s Not Your Mother’s slow cooker series. Reply

  • GiGi
    December 20, 2020 2:40pm

    Crock pot food always tastes to me like it’s just been boiled, not slow cooked. Actually, I love my Le Creuset 6 qt Dutch oven better. Recipes cooked in it, for a long time on low, always taste like they have mellowed overnight. I’m a vegetarian and use mushrooms, lentils, or sweet potatoes rather then meat in my chili.
    Was just about to donate my crockpot, but I may give it one more chance to redeem itself. If not, out it goes. I’ll try stock. Thanks for the post. Reply

  • Linda
    December 20, 2020 2:49pm

    This looks great! I have an instant pot that I’ve not used yet as a slow cooker, and will have to try this. But I’m also wondering if this can be made faster with the pressure cooking function. Any thoughts? Reply

  • Christine
    December 20, 2020 2:53pm

    I never thought about using the crock pot for stock..will definitely need to try that. We had a Rival crock pot from the 70’s till it died about 5 yrs. ago. My son then gifted me a new one which only had 2 levels of heat- barely perceptible or boiling. Ended up throwing it out. I found a very nice older Rival model on Ebay and it’s perfect! Use it a lot. Reply

  • December 20, 2020 2:54pm

    There is no slow cooker in my kitchen, just my trusty fast cooker, a pressure cooker that gets beans done in 15-20 minutes. After that, chili comes together fairly quickly. And no Spice Island spices here in Mexico, but I’m in love with ancho chile powder. It goes in everything, from chili, to black bean brownies, to chocolate truffles.

    Thanks for your recipe. I’ll make it this week, using the pressure cooker and ancho chile powder.

    Always love your great photos! ~ Kathleen Reply

    • Lakebluffer
      December 20, 2020 5:55pm

      If you make pumpkin/squash pie, try a T or 2 of ancho Chile powder in it either instead of or in addition to usual spices. Reply

  • December 20, 2020 3:22pm

    On presoaking beans: in the words of a Greek playwright I know, presoaking isn’t necessary, but it does help “get rid of the farts”.

    However, there’s a particular WAY of presoaking that does THAT particular thing best – dump the dry beans in a pot, fill with water, bring to a boil and boil the hell out of them for a couple minutes. Then turn the heat off, and let THAT soak for just a couple hours.

    I prefer the Instant Pot for beans, but that may be more to personal impatience. Reply

  • Coco
    December 20, 2020 3:57pm

    Love your cookbooks, excellent content and playful creative spirit-thanks!
    Here’s a slow cooker pork roast recipe, I used for pulled pork tacos, that was tender and not dry:
    https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchen/slow-cooker-pork-tacos-recipe-1972753 Reply

  • Linda
    December 20, 2020 4:25pm

    Thank you for that tip! I had heard decades ago that presoaking beans was good for reducing gas, but forgot that pre-boiling step. Reply

  • Steven Bayne
    December 20, 2020 4:29pm

    Hello!

    I always use a combination of ground beef and either mild or spicy Italian turkey sausage for great depth of flavor.

    Thanks for the great article and especially for your book Drinking French!

    Steven B Reply

  • Angi
    December 20, 2020 4:55pm

    I am new to your newsletter. I saw you on Beat Bobby Flay. The drink you created with the cocoa nibs made me an instant fan. Bonne journée! Reply

    • Kim Smith
      December 22, 2020 7:48am

      Did DL BEAT Bobby Flay?? Reply

  • Patti
    December 20, 2020 5:17pm

    I occasionally use my slow cooker, but I use my instanpot even less though it seems to be all the rage. Can’t wait to try your chili recipe. Reply

  • Helen Wiant
    December 20, 2020 5:17pm

    Never had or used a slow cooker in 40 years of cooking but was just given an Instapot and will inaugurate it with this recipe. PS on the topic of using up old ingredients: I was organizing and cleaning pantry and found four different opened packages of corn meal/polenta. Made cornbread of course! Reply

  • Barb
    December 20, 2020 5:34pm

    I love everything about the slow cooker, the ease, aroma etc. everything, except the food that come out of it! ;(
    Steel cut oats and a few soups seem to be the only dishes that have worked for me. Your chili looks delicious…I’ll give it a try. Thanks Reply

  • Cori Roth
    December 20, 2020 5:54pm

    Time to get out my slow cooker from the back of my pantry and try this recipe out minus ground beef since I don’t eat red meat. Will sub ground turkey or chicken and up some of the spices. Nice recipe David, as always! Reply

  • Pam
    December 20, 2020 6:03pm

    What size slow cooker do you suggest for this recipe? I love my slow cooker that also has a browning setting. Reply

    • Toos
      December 20, 2020 9:37pm

      Any size will do Reply

  • ParisGrrl
    December 20, 2020 6:19pm

    I use two slow cookers here in Paris, and find I have to take several hours off of any American recipe, and use the low setting almost exclusively. But I love them, and agree that bean dishes (and bavette!) work exceptionally well. I bet if you try your pork recipe again, and check it several hours before the recipe calls for, it will be ready. Reply

  • Beverly Burgoyne
    December 20, 2020 6:21pm

    Approx. how many servings does this recipe make? Reply

  • Karen S
    December 20, 2020 6:35pm

    I wonder how variable the temperatures are in slow cookers, and if that is a factor in why people love or hate them. I had one and never loved it. The low setting seemed too low and the high setting too high. Also it was one of the ceramic models which required doing any sautéing on the stove in advance, so that was a hassle and an extra pot. It was fine for recipes which basically just heated ingredients through, but the food didn’t pick up any complexities like it does in oven braising.

    A recent article in Cook’s Illustrated notes that most electric pressure cookers (e.g. Instant Pot) don’t have a high enough setting on their slow cooker mode to achieve good results. Maybe some slow cookers don’t either? Reply

    • December 20, 2020 7:59pm
      David Lebovitz

      I think a problem is they are so variable. Low on one is different than low on another, etc. Reply

    • Deborah
      December 23, 2020 6:44pm

      When I was checking my slow cooker for temp range I found that LOW was a slow start and HIGH was faster but both end up at the same HIGH temperature. I learned to cut the time for meat type things by 1/2 or more on LOW. Meat always seems initially succulent when removed and eaten but boiled and dry as it cools down when cooked in a crockpot.
      In the end prefer a covered pottery casserole in a low temp oven.
      Totally agree that Poblano peppers are a great addition to chili! Cant see that sweet peppers serve much purpose.
      Will definitely try chocolate in my next pot.
      Happy Holidays, and thanks for continuing this newsletter/blog, David! Reply

  • Lynn B
    December 20, 2020 7:40pm

    Prior to cooking dried red kidney beans in a slow cooker it may be a good idea to read US FDA advice re this process. Reply

    • December 20, 2020 7:56pm
      David Lebovitz

      Thanks. Interesting I did a search online and there were hundreds of recipes for red kidney bean chilis (and other recipes) prepared in slow cookers. I used, and preferred, the beans shown in the post, which aren’t kidney beans, but added notes to the post about boiling kidney beans if people plan to use them. Reply

  • aforss
    December 20, 2020 7:42pm

    RE soaking beans — people who say beans are less flavorful if you soak them invariably have drained the soaking water and added fresh water to the beans to cook, thereby dumping out flavorful compounds that leach into the soaking water. Just cook the beans in their soaking water! They will keep all their flavor and in my experience cook more evenly as well as more quickly. Not necessary, but my preferred way of cooking beans. Reply

    • Linda
      December 20, 2020 8:28pm

      I had always heard that getting rid of the soaking water would minimize the gassiness. It went against my instincts, as obviously there would be flavor lost as well. Reply

  • Winnie
    December 20, 2020 7:46pm

    A small strip of kombu will prevent the gassiness of beans. Just peel off a strip from the piece of kombu and throw it in the pot. Fish it out at the end.
    Works great Reply

  • Valerie
    December 20, 2020 7:49pm

    Soaking beans is unnecessary. Throw beans into a pot, add salt and water, bring to a boil, turn down heat. Simmer until the beans are cooked. Reply

    • December 20, 2020 7:58pm
      David Lebovitz

      Yes, it’s interesting how conventional wisdom said to pre-soak beans but well-regarded food writers say it’s not important, and in some cases, detrimental. Reply

  • Andrew
    December 20, 2020 8:45pm

    David, yours is the second recipe today that doesn’t include a pre-soak for beans. The first today was Ina Garten’s split pea soup on her new cookbook.
    I bought an Instapot a month before the pandemic began here and I barely use it. I don’t think I’m cooking when I use it and I love to cook. Reply

    • Susan
      December 20, 2020 11:22pm

      I’ve read in numerous sources that both lentils and split peas are the exception to the traditional pre-soak rule. As I recall it has something to do with the type and/or amount of lectins (plant toxins) in their coatings as compared to other beans. Reply

      • Linda
        December 21, 2020 1:20am

        I always just assumed it was related to size. Peas and lentils are small enough to absorb the needed water in a shorter amount of time, so no presoak needed. But I’m not sure if I just made that up. Reply

  • Susan
    December 20, 2020 8:50pm

    As mentioned previously, kombu is key. Eden Organics’ canned beans have been soaked and then long cooked with kombu, according to the company, which is why they are me go-to. Also, flavor and texture aside, the point of the bean pre-soak (and our ancestors knew this) is to remove or dramatically reduce the plant toxins contained in their coatings. Those toxins are a defense mechanism for the plant. Anyhoo…a long presoak and replacing the soaking water with fresh water helps remove them. Reply

  • Anna
    December 20, 2020 9:30pm

    You’re so right, watching people struggle for food has made me much more appreciative of using what I would once have thrown out. Stock is what I use my Instant Pot to make most often, although I do like it for recipes which usually require long cooking times. My favorite is the Genovese pasta sauce, made by cooking equal amounts of beef and onions. It used to take me all day, but now I can accomplish it in about two hours, with minimal fuss. I still have my slow cooker, but haven’t used it for a long time. I may bring it out this year, as I remember that my lentil soup was always very tasty when using it. Reply

  • Rita Schaefer
    December 20, 2020 11:02pm

    Terrific recipe. Do yourself a favor and buy some crock pot liners. They make clean up a breeze. If you can’t get them in Paris order them from Amazon! Merry Christmas! Reply

  • wildbill
    December 20, 2020 11:20pm

    So many welcome comments here today. I have this in my oven now at 350F. It smells wonderful! I had about 145 grams of reserved pork chop and skirt steak. So put them in even though I prefer to use a recipe exactly as written. For beans I put in “yellow Indian woman” from Rancho Gordo. The scents around the house and inside are Wonderful. There are still a couple of hours to go but a check and taste suggests this will be a terrific lead to Christmas. Thanks! Reply

    • December 21, 2020 8:34am
      David Lebovitz

      I think my beans were from Rancho Gordo but wasn’t 100% sure. But they sure are good! Reply

  • Rachel Webb
    December 20, 2020 11:24pm

    Hi, David! Oh, those pesky tomatoes! ;)

    They are still missing – from the “print” version of the recipe. Reply

    • December 21, 2020 8:35am
      David Lebovitz

      Hmm, that’s strange because I see them when I hit “Print.” I took a screenshot here. I have to use a recipe “plug-in” on the blog to write up recipes so they are printable, so maybe try refreshing your browser? Let me know if that does the trick or not. I can’t troubleshoot it because it shows up fine on my computer. Reply

      • Rachel Webb
        December 21, 2020 10:21am

        Ooooooh, thought I had double checked that before commenting. Guess I still had the old version and didn’t reload it.

        I can see them now. Merci! Reply

  • Sandra Alexander
    December 21, 2020 1:22am

    “Make your own chilli powder….” Mmmm. In 1962 my flatmate (male, unusual in those days) spent his university vacation volunteering in India. He came back with present for me, “The Hindu Cookbook”. Entirely without self-interest of course. The introduction to Spices said “When you are making chilli powder send all your servants out for the day. All the chilli dust in the air will make them bad-tempered.” For some reason I’ve never had the opportunity to follow this excellent advice…… Reply

  • Susan Salyer
    December 21, 2020 2:19am

    We grow different kinds of peppers in our summer garden. I think the ones in the picture below the beans are Serrano peppers which are usually a bit smaller and thinner than jalapeños and are often a bit more hotter. It’s the pepper we prefer when making salsa. Reply

    • December 21, 2020 8:33am
      David Lebovitz

      Thanks for the ID! Reply

  • December 21, 2020 7:13am

    Bonjour — It seems that I’m the first commenter to have made the recipe!

    David, you *do* have an amazing slow cooker, because the “it doesn’t reduce” problem turned out to be a problem for me — the proportion of water was just too high for my slow cooker, which doesn’t have a “sauté function” nor does it have an openable lid, as yours does.

    Mine is a large oval Crockpot which I bought via Amazon France three years ago.

    Anyway, I poured out the extra liquid (I saved it), and my husband just said that your chili was delicious — I’ll taste it tomorrow!

    P.S. How can I get in touch with you? I flew back to the States for my mother’s birthday, and I brought back with me a bottle of Tippleman’s Burnt Sugar Syrup (13 oz) for you. (I ordered two bottles, but had to leave one behind, due to airline weight restrictions.)
    Reply

    • December 21, 2020 8:39am
      David Lebovitz

      I’ve not seen a slow-cooker/crock pot that didn’t have an openable lid. I know the Instant Pots don’t have openable lids, as they are pressure cookers. I made this twice before posting the recipe and it turned out great both times. The only difference was the second time I used supermarket beans which are usually older than heirloom beans, and they took longer.

      Thanks for your offer for the burnt sugar syrup. I’m in the midst of using stuff I already have in my kitchen so appreciate the offer, but please use it for your own black cakes : ) Reply

  • Alison
    December 21, 2020 4:20pm

    I love my slow cooker for beans and chili, my InstaPot for stock, and my stove-top pressure cooker for polenta, risotto, and pork adobo. Each tool is great for certain things, but none of them are great for everything, and I’m fine with that. Looking forward to trying your chili recipe soon! Reply

    • December 21, 2020 5:02pm
      David Lebovitz

      Thanks Alison – I’m jealous of all your kitchen space! ; ) Reply

  • Rosie Dunsford
    December 21, 2020 6:21pm

    Alas! I liberated my slow cooker from my garage a while ago. So I am using my old fashioned slow cooker, Le Creuset and my oven. I upped the oven temperature to 250º but don’t feel confident with the selection. Any thoughts? Reply

  • P
    December 22, 2020 3:36am

    Question for you all, raw pinto beans, raw ground beef together in my crock pot? My crock pot low and high , will the beans and ground beef, fully cook on a low setting?
    Thank you Reply

  • Peggy Shinner
    December 22, 2020 3:42pm

    Can this recipe be made without a slow cooker, on top of the stove? If so, what adjustments do you suggest? Thanks. Reply

    • December 22, 2020 5:07pm
      David Lebovitz

      I’d cook the vegetables and the meat in a skillet, and the beans in a pot (you may want to add less water). Then mix the cooked meats/veg with the beans and some of their cooking liquid and tomatoes, and cilantro until thick. The chocolate added at the end of cooking. Reply

  • sharon
    December 22, 2020 5:22pm

    What a simpleton am I. I followed your instructions exactly and used ingredients as you listed. I used my slow cooker as well. I didn’t change a thing. Conclusion: This is the most magnificent chili I’ve ever tasted. It will replace the Chasens Chili recipe I’ve been using from the first SF Junior League Cookbook (yes I’m that ancient). Thanks again Mr L. For another great recipe. Reply

    • Tim Teegarden
      December 23, 2020 10:07pm

      I’m ancient enough to have that too. “San Francisco A La Carte.” A number of those recipes are in our family repertoire. Including our favorite cake ever, Gâteau Ganache. Reply

  • Daisy
    December 23, 2020 12:40am

    Bonjour! Have you tried brining your beans overnight, and adding some baking soda to the cooking water? That works well for me with old beans that take forever to cook. You probably can’t get them in France, but Rancho Gordo beans from California are the best I have ever eaten. Reply

    • December 25, 2020 10:35am
      David Lebovitz

      Rancho Gordo beans are quite fresh and I find they cook a lot better than supermarket beans, which are generally stale here (and elsewhere, too). I buy beans from a local source, if possible, or use Rancho Gordo beans that I bring back to France from the U.S. Reply

  • Lauri
    December 23, 2020 3:23am

    Not to go off topic, but coffee salt (mine is labeled espresso salt, it’s probably the same thing) is fantastic sprinkled on brownies or hot chocolate. Reply

  • Clara
    December 24, 2020 8:52pm

    I’ve been lead to believe that Chili is a meat dish, and that cubed beef, not
    ground beef, is the correct meat to use. Also, beans, if used at all, are a secondary ingredient. Your recipe would end up being mostly beans with meat being a secondary ingredient. In many parts of the USA are not used at all. Some people consider using beans in chili to be heresy. Reply

    • December 25, 2020 10:13am
      David Lebovitz

      Yes, did you read that link I posted in the article? It’s quite fascinating on the subject. The original chili apparently contained horsemeat or deer (no beef, cubed or ground), chili peppers, and cornmeal. Reply

  • Suz Smith
    December 24, 2020 9:36pm

    Some recipes with beans suggest they should be fully cooked before adding acids (toms). Do you think the long simmer time here compensates for that? Thanks Reply

  • Paula
    December 28, 2020 1:59am

    Joe yonan’s Texas bowl of red is ultimate chili. Yummy!
    Was how to cook rice in the rice cooker in here somewhere? Reply

  • Pilates Maven
    December 29, 2020 12:32pm

    Made the chili yesterday and it is terrific. One thing that I noticed as I stirred the pot was the magnificent color and sheen that developed near completion. I hope many of the commenters will actually make the chili and enjoy it as much as I have. It is worth the shopping list, time and clean up. Thank you! Reply

  • December 29, 2020 3:26pm

    Can’t wait to try this recipe! It looks delicious! Thanks for sharing! Reply

  • Carol S-B
    December 30, 2020 10:23pm

    Instant pot vs crockpot: the instant pot’s “slow cooker” setting isn’t the same as your olde fashioned, ceramic lined crockpot. The heat is distributed up the sides and into the bulk of the food in the ceramic lined slow cooker; in the instant pot, it’s concentrated on the bottom of the metal pot. I’d anticipated getting rid of my old crockpot when I got the Instant pot (really a ‘hands-off’ pot). Nope. I tested it with some favourite recipes; not the same taste or texture in the instant pot, alas. (though my research suggests I may need a specific lid)
    I love chili! I also put in a bit of unsweetened cocoa powder: not enough to taste, just enough to darken the flavour. And, like John Emerson, I thicken the chili with a bit of cornmeal. Leftovers are awesome used as a dip with nacho chips! Reply

  • Carolyn
    January 2, 2021 3:52pm

    The best method for cooking dried beans is Mark Bittmans! Put beans in a stock pot, cover with water, bring to a boil. Turn heat off, cover, let sit two hours. Take lid off, add more water if needed, season, simmer 1 hourish testing for doneness about every 15 minutes- more often as they get close to being done. Never fails. Reply

  • Susan
    January 3, 2021 7:56pm

    If you find yourself with a plethora of onions – caramelized onions in a slow cooker is a good solution. Much easier than standing over a pot on the stove stirring and stirring for ever.
    Chili looks great! Reply

    • January 4, 2021 8:58am
      David Lebovitz

      yes, I’ve heard they are great for caramelizing a lot of onions due to the low, steady heat – ! Reply

  • Shira McKernan
    January 5, 2021 2:30am

    I just made this chili after borrowing my mother’s crockpot. I’ve never used one before. I sampled it and the depth of flavor is fantastic. I made it a day ahead to share with my sister’s family tomorrow along with homemade cornbread and green beans. I have a feeling it will be even better the next day. Reply

    • January 5, 2021 9:43am
      David Lebovitz

      Glad it was a hit, and yes, leftovers are even better : ) Reply

  • Margaret
    January 7, 2021 8:06pm

    I followed the recipe to a ‘t’ but omitted the chocolate. I used an All Clad Slow Cooker on low for 8 hours. This chili is delicious and I wish I had added the chocolate. Some in my family are not mole fans and that is why I omitted it.

    I chose the Slow Cooker (7 qt) over the InstaPot (6 qt) as I was worried about the total volume. About half-way through the cooking time, I peeked under the lid and the recipe was almost to the top. However, by the end of the cooking time, the level wasn’t quite as high. So a 6 qy InstaPot may work. Reply

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