Slow Cooker Beef and Bean Chili with Beer

Chili.  The word alone makes my mouth water.  We love it in all forms, with or without beans, with chunks of beef or ground beef, white chicken chili, meatless, stove cooked, slow cooker style, etc.  Really, the possibilities are endless.  This will undoubtedly be the first of many chili recipes I will post.  Although I indicated in the title that this chili is for the slow cooker, you can easily make it on the stove in a 5-6 quart pot, just let it simmer over low heat for 2-3 hours.  Beer is not something I use often in chili and I was really pleased with the results.  It turned out that the beer was not overpowering in this recipe and gave the chili a bit of a malty background flavor.  Since the recipe only calls for 1 cup there is a nice big swig (or two) left over for the chef.  The heat level of this chili is easily controlled with spices and if you don’t like much heat at all you can substitute with mild Ro-Tel or canned diced tomatoes.  I used Penzeys regular chili powder which made my batch flavorful but not too spicy.   If you want more heat, feel free to add anywhere from 1/4 – 1 teaspoon of cayenne or ground chipotle pepper or load up on the sliced, pickled jalapeños.  You are the boss of your chili so make it as spicy as you like it.  Enjoy!

1 1/2 pounds ground chuck OR 1 1/2 pounds chuck roast, cut into 1-inch chunks
1 tablespoon olive oil (if using beef chunks)
1 large onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 (15-ounce) cans pinto beans, drained and rinsed
2 (10-ounce) cans diced tomatoes with green chiles (Ro-Tel)
1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
1 cup beer (light-colored or amber lager, like Dos Equis, Corona or even a cheap American beer)
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon ancho chile powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons dried Mexican oregano
1 teaspoon salt
masa harina, optional

In a large skillet over medium heat, brown and crumble the ground beef, if using, and drain the fat before adding to the slow cooker.  Or add the olive oil to the skillet over medium heat until shimmery.  Add the beef chunks a few at a time to brown, 2-3 minutes per side.  Once the beef chunks are browned, use a little beer or water (about 1/4 cup) to deglaze the pan.  Scrape up all the brown bits and add it to the slow cooker along with the beef.

Add the rest of the ingredients to the slow cooker.  Stir until combined.  Cover and cook on LOW for 8 to 9 hours or on HIGH for 4 to 5 hours.  If the chili is not thick enough, stir in some masa harina 1 tablespoon at a time until the desired thickness is achieved.  Garnish with shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, sliced jalapeños, sliced green onions and/or chopped cilantro. Serve with a nice chunky piece of cornbread.

serves 6 to 8

adapted from Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker Cookbook by Beth Hensperger and Julie Kaufmann

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