I tend to pull out the slow cooker about once a week. It’s typically used to prepare a giant pot of chicken and vegetable soup that my wife and I eat throughout the week.
The final dish actually may be closer to a stew than a soup with the slow cooker heavily stuffed with a selection of seasonal vegetables that usually includes carrots, celery, broccoli, onion and yardlong beans. Sometimes I add some cabbage, leeks, or cauliflower, and other times maybe some sweet or regular potatoes.
Into the pot goes a heaping pile of chopped, fresh vegetables and two large raw chicken breasts. Seasoned with herbs and spices, and a few bay leaves, I set the slow cooker to high heat, and in about four hours I have an incredibly healthy prepared meal that is enjoyed throughout the week. The chicken is either shredded or chopped and mixed in with the vegetables.
As the weather begins to cool through the fall and winter months, I find the slow cooker used much more often.
One dish that I had not prepared in quite some time, but was craving this week, is a slow-cooker chili.
With fresh peppers and tomatoes still readily available, they act as a nice base for developing flavor.
I tend to use a variety of peppers in my chili dishes, with this week including red bell, green bell, poblano and some no-heat habanero chilies all sourced from local farmers.
Because my kids are much more sensitive to spicy food than I am (although they can probably handle a nice medium), my chili recipes are milder than I would make just for myself. With an array of garnishes to top it off, I like to end with a few splashes of hot sauce.
Slow-Cooker Fresh Pepper Chili
2 tablespoon olive oil
2 poblano peppers, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
6 “no-heat” habanero peppers, diced. (Note: this is a specific variety of chili grown by “BD” Dautch of Earthtrine Farm that is not spicy. You can omit them if you’re not able to pick them up.)
1 large yellow onion, diced
5 cloves garlic, chipped
2 large carrots, peeled and diced
1½ pounds ground turkey or beef. (I used a 93/10 ground turkey.)
1 cup dried beans (presoaked 4-6 hours, or overnight). (I used peruano beans)
4 cups diced tomatoes (or 2, 14-ounce cans tomatoes)
¼ cup chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
4 large bay leaves
1 tablespoon seasoned salt (add more after cooking to taste)
In a large sauté pan, turn to high heat and add olive oil. Sauté peppers, onion, garlic and carrots for about 6-7 minutes and add contents to the slow cooker.
In the same pan, sauté ground meat until browned, making sure to break up the meat as you cook. Add the meat and all remaining contents to the slow cooker and mix. Add just enough water to almost reach the top of the ingredients in the pot, but not submerged.
Cook at high heat for about 5 hours, or low heat for about 8 hours. Serve warm with your favorite chili garnishes such as diced onion, cilantro, shredded cheese, pickled jalapeño, avocado, etc.
Yield: Serves about 10.