This was a learning experiment based on a 30-hour-awake day I'll share with you.
One day last week I couldn't sleep even though I'd been up since before dawn the day before. I ended up going from 4am one day, up through all of that night, and then finally got sleepy about 11am the next day. I know. Weird. But by 10am I realized that if I was going to save us from eating icky fast food for dinner I needed a plan. I had all the ingredients for chili but by that time of morning my brain was so fried I was probably a danger with a stove. Sort of like drinking and driving, insomnia and appliances with massive heat do not go together.
My answer: It's a crockpot, isn't it? The idea is to dump stuff in and forget it, right? That's what I did. I didn't brown the ground beef or saute the onions. It all went in together and cooked for the six hours I slept. I woke up to great chili. Here's what I liked most about it: the texture. I've talked before about the fact that although I'm not a vegetarian I don't eat a lot of meat. I grew up in a meat-centric house so I like the taste of it but I hate the texture. One of the things I don't like about chili is having the softness of the beans and the relative hardness of the meat. I know. I know. It's strange but it is what it is. In some dishes I want lots of texture but in foods like chili, I don't. I usually end up picking out the chunks of meat and throwing them back in the pot for Gene. This method solved that problem. The long slow cooking time broke down the fibers of the meat to the point that it was all a uniform texture and I liked it. So if you're like me and have a meat/texture or a sleeping/need for quick food problem, this is the chili recipe for you too.
By the way, I froze a container of this to use on coneys or for chili mac later on. It's PERFECT for both of those dishes.
Fastest No Work Crockpot Chili
Recipe by Glenna Anderson Muse
2 lbs extra extra lean ground beef
1 cup frozen diced onion with peppers
1 cup grated carrot
1 banana or jalapeno pepper, diced
1 15.5 oz can diced tomatoes
2 pkgs Williams Chili seasoning
2 tsp brown sugar
1 lb dried beans: pinto, kidney, or mix
Directions: Place everything in the pot and enough water to cover everything by 2 inches. Turn on high and cook for approximately 6 hours or until beans and cooked through. Taste and re-season with salt and pepper as needed.
Cook's note: I keep the commercially diced onions in the freezer for just these occasions when dicing and onion seems like more than I can handle. Plus, I was tired. Knives and tired don't play well together either. I also keep pre-grated carrots on hand for salads so all of this prep was just open something and dump in. We all love to cook from scratch but the reality is sometimes you have to go for ease and that's okay. It's still home-made. It's still much better for you than anything canned or processed from the center aisles of the grocery store.