Do you ever have a crowd to feed but not a lot of money to go around? You can make old fashioned chili with all the trimmings for just about $1.67 per serving. If you are feeding a bunch of carnivores who always ask “where’s the beef?” you can make this meal for about $2.35 per serving. I have a family of 1 strict vegetarian, 3 veggie lovers, and 5 carnivores and even my staunch carnivores really enjoy the vegetarian version of this chili. Even if you don’t need to feed a crowd, this is a super healthy and economical meal to feed your family on cold winter days!
To get started, pour dry pinto beans on your counter top and sort them. Occasionally you will find a little stone. Just pat the beans out flat and scoot the good ones off the counter and into a colander. Rinse the beans, put them in the crock pot, and cover with water. Beans soak up a LOT of water as they cook, but if you add too much at the beginning your chili will be watery. I have a 7-quart crock pot, so I use about 3 1/2 quarts of water for 2 pounds of dry pinto beans. This yields 12+ good-sized servings. If you have a smaller crock pot, of course use less water and beans.
I like to add seasonings now and let them simmer with the beans. Everyone has different preferences, and you should experiment to see what you like best, but I make pretty yummy chili and here is what I use with 2 pounds of dry beans:
4 Tbs Chili Powder
1 Tbs plus 1 tsp salt (I’m salty, you might want to decrease this amount)
1 tsp Red Ceyenne Pepper
2 Tbs minced garlic
1 Tbs Curry Powder
1 tsp Ginger ~ this is supposed to help people not be so gassy ~ jury is still out on this one, but the ginger flavor is really masked by the other spices so you don’t taste it at all and ginger is super good for you, so why not, right? I’ve also heard that putting a whole carrot in the crock pot while the beans simmer and then removing it before serving helps people not be so gassy. Again, jury is still out on this. Honestly, beans are so good for you I think it is worth a little, um… extra effort to be polite?
I add more flavors later.
Let the beans simmer for a really long time. Every crock pot is different. You are better off starting early and then turning it down to “keep warm” than starting too late and having beans that are still hard. If you overcook it though, you will end up with the consistency of re-fried beans, so keep an eye on it. I typically start mine on high in the afternoon the day before I plan to serve the chili. Before I go to bed, I turn it to low. The next day I watch it and once it is right, I turn it to “keep warm”.
Next, add 36 or so ounces of stewed tomatoes. I use 1 quart of home-canned tomatoes from my garden, but my jars are packed with a lot of tomatoes and not so much of the clear watery juice. Saute 1 chopped onion and 1 chopped green bell pepper in a cube of butter just until the onions are a little transparent. I know that’s a lot of butter, but 2 pounds is a lot of beans. I typically start the onions first, and when they are almost done I add the green peppers and cook them just until they begin to soften. In the fall, when I have loads of bell peppers from the garden, I use 2 or 3 green, red, orange or yellow peppers because they are just so yummy! Add the veggies to the chili. If you prefer, now would be the time to add a pound or two of cooked ground beef. I just brown the beef with salt and pepper.
I love to add shredded cheese, corn chips, sour cream and green onions.
This meal is really easy to prepare, transport and set up if you need to feed people away from your home. You just need a crock pot with a great lid. Then you can set up the chili and all the trimmings on a buffet table and let people dress their chili up just how they like it. If a few of your friends help by bringing a plate or two of cookies or a fruit or veggie platter, you will be all set.
I hope you enjoy making old fashioned chili! 🙂Print Recipe
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