I wasn't sure about this, but I found myself becoming increasingly obsessed with the idea of owning a slow cooker. Suddenly they're everywhere; catalogs, shop windows, magazines and on the television. I read that you could slow cook soups and have them waiting - hot! - for when you get home from work on cold evenings. I read that you can make homemade yogurt in them. And desserts. And vegetarian dishes. But really, it was Deb's southwestern pulled brisket over at Smitten Kitchen that took me over the edge.
After pulling it out of the box and setting it on the bench, I still wasn't sure. It's big and heavy-looking and doesn't fit in my kitchen of vintage bits and bobs. Another appliance to take up space on the kitchen bench? But people, this evening I came home from a long (cold!) day at work to a steaming hot pot of 10 hour chili con carne. I'm totally converted.
And it only took me 10 minutes in the morning to throw together. Being my first go using the magic machine, I didn't expect magic food. But this was delicious. It is in no way my definitive chili recipe; there's no pork or black beans or chocolate here. But it is hearty and flavorsome, with a wholesome roundness of flavour that comes from the addition of corn tortillas to thicken and bolster the chili. I threw in what I had on hand: an onion, some Mexican garlic, a sad-looking green capsicum, a jalapeno pepper from my mother's garden, some spices, a couple of dry-looking corn tortillas and a couple of tins of tomatoes along with some beef mince and a cupful of soaked great northern beans. But if you're even less prepared, you could use a can of beans. So although I've included quantities here, you could throw in whatever you like and as long as it's seasoned and there's adequate liquid, I reckon you'll be ok. That's why this machine is magic.
Slow cooker chili con carne
This made enough for about six serves with sides. Freeze leftovers for an even lazier dinner.
2 corn tortillas
750ml beef stock
500g beef mince, not too lean
1 tsp olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 green capsicum, deseeded and chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, finely diced (seeds are hot, remove according to taste)
1 (largish) clove of garlic, finely chopped
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin seeds
1 1/2 tsp ground chilli
2 1/2 tsp sweet paprika
200g great northern beans, soaked overnight
800g tinned Italian tomatoes (2 tins)
Avocado, sour cream, coriander, hot sauce to serve
1. Tear corn tortillas into pieces and pour hot beef stock over. Set aside to soak.
2. Fry mince in a pan over medium heat until browned. Add browned mince to slow cooker.
3. Add olive oil to pan. When hot, add onions, capsicum, jalapeno and a pinch of salt. Fry over medium heat, stirring from time to time, until softened and golden. Add garlic and spices and cook for a minute or so longer, stirring. Add mixture to slow cooker.
4. Add tomatoes and beans and stock with tortillas. Season to taste.
5. Set to cook on low setting for 8 - 10 hours.
6. Serve with assorted garnishes and rice or cornbread.