Slow Cooked Smokey Barbecue Chili

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I tell you this every time I post a recipe, but I’ll tell you again. I love to cook because it’s creative. There are generally so few activities that get us away from the computer, and allow us to use our hands. That is precisely why the kitchen is a welcome breath of fresh air.

Yesterday was a quiet day at home. I spent the morning with the ladies from Team In Training going for a Saturday morning jog, brunch and then drifted through my favorite local Farmer’s market at Lakeshore in Oakland.

On a Fall day with three hours to do as I choose there is no greater joy than pulling out the slow cooker and losing myself in some heavy duty chopping.

Dish purchased at Cost Plus World Market

Slow cooked food always tastes better. The dish soaks up all kinds of flavors given that it has more time to marinate. That being said, slow cooked chili is one of my favorite things to make. It opens up your pores just as much as a salsa dancing class would. And if you like spice and flavor, there’s no shortage of variations you can do. I like to kick the heat and spice into high gear. You can control how spicy the dish is with the optional ingredients listed below.

You don’t have to make this in a slow cooker but it adds a lot of flavor.

Smokey Chili Recipe Ingredients:

1 lb heirloom tomatoes (the fresher the better)
1/3 cup of smokey barbecue sauce
1 lb extra lean beef (organic if possible)
1 green bell pepper chopped
3 garlic cloves minced
1 yellow onion chopped
1 can of Cuban black beans
2 tablespoons of chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 tablespoon salt
1/3 cup low-fat cheddar cheese
2 cups low sodium chicken broth

Optional Chili ingredients:

1 cup Israeli cous cous or another grain to serve with
chili powder or chipotle seasoning [check out the Rancho Gordo Chili Powder found at the SF Ferry Building or Farmer’s Market]
2 Habanero Peppers

Directions:

1. Spray pan with olive oil spray or pam. On medium heat saute the chopped onions in garlic. Chop green pepper and add. Once soft, add ground beef and break up the meat in the pan. You might add some of your chicken broth to avoid having to use olive oil and keeping the meat moist.
2. Heat slow cooker and add in all chopped ingredients stirring every 45 minutes or so. Add water if soup is too thick. Heat on high for about 4 hours on high, or 8 hour on low.
3. Serve with Israeli cous-cous and a spritzel of cheese on top garnished with cilantro or fennel.

I always just use what I have in the fridge or pantry. There’s no sense in starting your car up and driving to the market for one small ingredient.

I garnished my soup with fennel rather than cilantro. Fennel, while probably an uncharacteristic garnish, still tastes wonderful. Frozen cilantro went into the soup but wouldn’t have looked very becoming on top of the meal.

I took one bite of this soup and melted on the kitchen floor. The fresh heirloom tomatoes from the farmer’s market and all the spices made this dish an absolute pleasure to eat.

And…

To dress the table for your meal, depicted below are a feast of Dahlias.


Heirloom tomatoes, golden beets, carrots and cucumbers from Lakeshore Farmer’s Market.  Fresh veggies make all the difference. Once you get your veggies directly from the farmers you won’t ever want to get your veggies from a plastic case at Trader Joe’s again. I promise you this.


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