This is the most locally produced chili I could possibly imagine – thanks to my family. My Dad raised the beef, my sister the beans, garlic, tomatoes, chili pepper, onion and kale. My husband’s grandpa’s farm grows the corn and roasts the corn meal for the sweet corn muffins I serve with it. Put together with a half-decent recipe, it makes for a chili better than good. If I think too much about it, the effort put forth to make that meal is astounding, and I’ll get sappy and perhaps attach more meaning to hamburger and beans than is deserved. On the other hand, I can’t help but believe that when so many people work so hard to perfect their product, you can’t help but taste that difference.
I used a mix of Elaine’s dried black beans and cranberry beans. Please note that the cranberry beans take extra time to soften and you may want to cook those separately ahead of time. Cooking them ahead would greatly reduce the time it would take to simmer the combined chili. In a slow cooker, I cooked the beans all together in the chili and it just took a bit longer for it all to be ready — after I soak the beans and brown the beef, I allow everything to simmer in a slow cooker, 4 hours on high and 2 on low.
1 small onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 pound ground beef
1 quart whole tomatoes and their juice, chopped roughly or squished with your hands
2 cups beans, black and cranberry beans, pre-soaked
1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
1 dried chili, seeds removed, finely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons basil
1 1/2 teaspoons oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh-ground pepper
1 bunch kale, chopped small
Saute the onion, garlic and beef until browned. Don’t drain it and transfer all of it to the slow cooker. Add the tomatoes and their juice.
Add the beans and all the spices – below, Ava presents a mix of pre-soaked cranberry beans and black beans.
Chop the kale very small if you want to hide it from others who do not understand. I used the curly kale. When cooked, it becomes impossible to detect and gives a huge vitamin boost to your chili!
Cook together in the slow cooker until the beans are tender to chew, approximately 4 hours on high and 2 hours on low. As I mentioned, the cranberry beans will take longer because they are bigger and firmer.