I like to make chili in the crock pot instead of a pot on the stove. If you make it in a pot on the stove you have to be home while it simmers over a low heat for several hours. Making it in the crock pot allows you to forget about it and go about your business. We have this exact crock pot, which automatically switches over to a 'keep warm' setting after the prescribed amount of cooking ends.
I'm sure there are thousands of recipes for chili on the internet, but I'm going to share my recipe along with the 'surprise' ingredients and tell you why I use and do what I use and do.
I start by browning and crumbling 2 lbs of ground beef. Yes, you can use ground turkey if you want but I think it changes the flavor. I really prefer ground beef in chili so too keep it from being too greasy or fatty, I use either 85% lean or 93% lean ground beef. Once the ground beef is browned, crumbled and drained of the fat rendered, I put the cooked ground beef into the crock pot.
Next I use 2 envelopes of chili seasoning, 1 'regular' and 1 'hot'. You could go to the trouble of measuring out the individual spices contained in the envelopes, but why would you? The envelopes have done the measuring for you. If you're afraid of 'hot' seasoning you can use 2 envelopes of 'regular', but I think the combination is perfect.
Next pour in a 32 oz can of diced tomatos with the liquid. You can use tomato sauce if you don't like the chunks of tomato, but I think the chunks give the chili great texture once its cooked down. Add a 16 oz can of tomato sauce and a 4 oz can of tomato paste. The paste gives the chili a concentrated tomato flavor.
Next come the beans. I use a 16 oz can of kidney beans (light or dark red, your choice, drained) and a 16 oz can of black beans, drained. (Surprise ingredient #1: black beans.) The black beans give a nice variation in the bean size, since they are smaller than kidneys, and the color gives the chili and interesting appearance.
Next I add about 1 cup (give or take) of frozen corn. (Surprise ingredient #2: corn.) This is a way of adding yet another variation to the size of of the beans, and adding another color to the chili. Food should look just as good as it tastes.
Then I add a 4 oz can of chopped, peeled green chilis with the liquid. (Surprise ingredient #3: green chilis.) These are NOT jalepeno peppers, they are a much milder green chili. You probably won't be able to taste that there are green chilis in the final product, but they add a depth of flavor and authenticity so add them anyway.
Now, stir all ingredients in the crock pot. The mixture should be extremely thick, so stir in about 5 oz of water. If its still too thick to stir thoroughly, stir in a few more oz of water until all the ingredients are thoroughly mixed.
Finally, add 2 dashes of nutmeg (Surprise ingredient #4) and 2 dashes of cinnamon (Surprise ingredient #5) and stir. I know, I know, nutmeg and cinnamon are typically used in baking but trust me - you won't be able to taste them specifically in the final product but they will add a balance and depth of flavor you don't want to miss. Just ask Bob. On Facebook he asked for help with his chili, followed my suggestion of adding these 2 spices, and loved the result.
Place the lid on your crock pot, put it on the 'low' setting, and let it simmer for 6 hours or more. Don't keep opening the lid to stir. It isn't necessary, and keeping the lid closed keeps the heat in and allows the condensation to fall into the chili.
Since this takes so little time to make, its great to do this in the morning before work, let it cook all day while you're gone, and when you get home from work you have a nice, hot dinner waiting for you with hardly any pots/pans/dishes to wash. I've made this chili recipe on a Fri morning, gone to work, then come home and made a boxed cornbread mix and a simple green salad and served it to our company for dinner that same evening.
If you make my chili recipe please let me know how you liked it!