It’s official. We are weaklings. My entire family. We are nothing but wimpy desert bums.
We broke out the space heater today. Brrr! It’s only 70 degrees here today. Wimps, I know.
But really, the mornings and evenings do get cold. The other night when we were getting the kids out of the tub, poor little Emry was shivering and her lips were purple. She wouldn’t even sit and pee because the toilet seat was too cold. Apparently my kids are not very adaptable to weather conditions other than hot.
You know what helps ease this weather transition? Warm, slow cooker soups and stews. It has become my favorite thing lately to reach into my pantry and fridge and create a soup, stew, or chili from scratch without any guidelines or recipes. It really is fun!
This process allows me to be creative, experiment with flavors, and get rid of all the random veggies in my fridge. It’s an all around enjoyable experience. I say that only because I have yet to toss an “experiment” down the drain. When that day comes, I’m sure I won’t be whistling any happy tunes or rambling on about my love for creative cooking. But until then…
For our church’s Trunk or Treat party, I whipped up a batch of BBQ chili, aka Cowboy Chili. I thought it was delicious and it was one of the first pots gone. It may have been the fact that my chili was first in line at the serving station, but for my own pride’s sake I’m going to pretend it was because people loved it. Too bad I didn’t write the recipe down. Don’t you just hate that?! When you can’t remember exactly what you did? Yeah, well I can cry about it or just try my hand at another batch of BBQ chili and hope for the best.
So that’s what I did on this “cold” Arizona night; whipped up another batch, and this time I wrote down the ingredients. Turns out I’m almost glad I had to make this dish twice. I liked it even better the second time! And you’ll for sure like this version better, too. Only for the fact that it’s the only version you’re gonna get! So you will just going to have to trust me that it’s the best.
I love this Cowboy Chili because not only is it simple to make, but it’s very palate friendly. The flavors are bold, yet mild in heat so you don’t have to worry about burning anybody’s mouth off. If you want to kick up the cayenne pepper or chili powder, feel free. My kids and hubby loved it just the way it was.
This chili makes me think of cowboys because it has that sweet BBQ flavor to it, like you just opened up a can of baked beans alongside a “Kumbaya” campfire after a long day of herding cattle. Actually, I don’t know what cowboys really do. That’s just how I picture it.
I add my favorite Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce to this chili mixture along with some Worcestershire sauce and a touch of brown sugar. Caramelizing the onions with the carrots really enhances the flavor, along with deglazing the pan with some red wine. You can always use broth to deglaze if you don’t have the wine on hand.
I also really like the variety of beans in this chili. I used a mixture of pinto, black, and navy beans for the different textures and colors, but you can use any variety that you have on hand. You can make this chili using browned ground beef, or shredded chicken or pork if you prefer. Heck, go vegetarian and add some extra beans if that’s your thing. Make this chili your very own masterpiece.
I call this a slow cooker chili because once the ingredients are all in the crockpot, the slow cooking really melds the flavors together. However, if you would prefer this to be a quick dinner meal, you can always make this completely on the stove top and allow it to simmer for 30 minutes before serving. The flavors won’t be quite as married, but they will still be happily dating.
So snuggle up and get ready for the winter. As long as you have some comfy slippers, a worn out sweatshirt, and a bowl of warm Cowboy Chili in your lap, I’m sure you’ll find a way to survive.
How do you like to spend your cold winter evenings?
- 1½ tablespoons butter or cooking oil
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 2 carrots, peeled and cut into ¼" slices
- ¼ cup red cooking wine or beef broth
- 1 lb. lean ground beef
- 1 can diced tomatoes
- 1 can tomato sauce
- 1 cup water
- ⅓ cup BBQ sauce (I prefer Sweet Baby Ray's original)
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1½ teaspoon chili powder
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¾ teaspoon ground mustard
- ½ teaspoon coriander
- 2 cans pinto beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 can navy beans, rinsed and drained
- In a large saucepan, melt butter on medium high heat. Once pan is hot to sizzle, add chopped onion and sliced carrots. Generously season with salt and pepper. Cook a little above medium heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to avoid burning. During the last 5 minutes of cooking, add wine or broth to pan and deglaze by scraping bottom of pan with wooden spoon and stirring vegetables. Once liquid has reduced, add beef and cook until just barely browned. It is okay if there is a little pink; it will finish cooking in the crockpot.
- In your crockpot* add canned tomatoes, tomato sauce, water, BBQ sauce, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, ground mustard, and coriander. Stir until ingredients are well incorporated. Drain and rinse cans of beans. Add to mixture. Stir meat mixture into crockpot. Cover and cook on low setting for 5 hours.* Stir and serve warm with your choice of toppings.