Servings: 8 Prep: 30 min Cook: 8 hrs Total: 8 hrs 30 min
In my near 40 years of life, I have cooked a million different things in a billion different ways. However, I have managed to somehow avoid mastering the art of the crock pot. In fact, I have never used one … ever. This recipe is my first stab at using this near ubiquitous pieces of equipment.
Crock pots are essentially a cooking technique known as “braising”. Braising is essentially “cooking stuff in liquid”. In restaurants, usually a meat product will be seasoned, then seared in a hot pan so that it is nicely caramelized. From there, it will be submerged in a variety of different ingredients, where it is slowly and gently held at a hot and stable temperature. In many cases, this is done in a pot, with a lid, placed in a very low temperature oven for hours at a time, often being left to sit overnight.
Slow cookers or “crock pots” do essentially the same thing. It’s a very low and slow, but consistent level of heat. As foods sit at this temperature, liquids are drawn out, connective tissues and fats in meats break down and melt, vitamins are leached into the liquids that develop, the flavors are all distributes and intermingle, etc. In short, a variety of ingredients are tossed into a slow cooker, where the stuff slowly cooks, breaks down and becomes a soft, tasty dinner!
For my first foray in the land of the crock pot, I wanted to go with a full and heavy meaty chili. It seemed like a good way to break in my new crock pot!
Most recipes I found for chili seemed to suggest the meat be cut into cubes, seasoned, seared, then thrown into a crock pot with the rest of the ingredients. Being me, I needed to “mix it up”. One common theme seemed to be “Texas Chili”. I decided to add some elements that take it “South of Texas”, while also leaving elements like the chili powder and tomatoes, so it will stay “familiar”. Also, having braised lots of meats in my life, I’ve found that braising whole pieces of meat tends to result in a more “moist” end product. It’s just more “juicy” and supple than the cubed meats. It may not have the same attractive little cubes of beefy goodness you may be accustomed to, but the meat is tender, juicy and soft, in the best possible way.
I’ve also got a bit of a question for you Crock Pot enthusiasts. In reading crock pot recipes, most all of them seem to request the addition of water, or broth. I did not add any extra liquid to this recipe, even though it seemed commonplace. Rather, I trusted the method to pull all the liquids from the meats and vegetables. I was correct! In fact, even without adding additional liquid, it still felt a bit soupy to me. Next time, I’d likely add a bit of xanthan and guar gums to it, just to tighten it up, a bit.
Is this loose liquid a desirable trait? Should I see slow cooker recipes as having a more soupy/sloshy consistency? Please place your thoughts in the comment box, below. Thanks! ☺
Closing Thoughts: While it was a bit soupy and not much to look at, this was as tasty a chili as I’ve ever had.
Slow Cooker All-Beef "South of Texas" ChiliPrint Rate
- 3 each dried ancho chilies
- 2 each dried guajillo chilies
- 1 small onion diced
- 4 each garlic cloves minced
- 2 each poblano chillies seeds removed and diced
- 2 medium tomatoes diced and divided
- 2 tbsp light oil (like coconut or olive)
- 2 tbsp chili powder
- 2 tsp cumin seed ground
- 1 tsp coriander seed ground
- 1 tsp cinnamon ground
- 3 lb beef chuck cut into 8 large chunks
- 1 each orange
- 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
- Split the ancho and guajillo chilies by either tearing the tops off, or using kitchen scissors to cut them open. Remove the seeds from the peppers and discard (feel free to leave a few, if you like a spicy chili).
- You can do this in a hot pan, but I usually toast the chilies directly on a hot burner element, or over a hot burner flame. Over a medium-low temperature, toast the surface of the chilies by placing them in the flame, or directly on the burner surface. This will cause a quick blistering. Do not burn the chilies. Simply toast the surface for about 15 seconds, in a few spots around the chilies. This makes for a richer and more developed flavor.
- Fill a bowl or measuring cup with about 4 cups of hot tap water. Place your toasted chilies in the hot tap water, so they may soften.
- Turn your slow cooker to a low-temperature. Add your onions, garlic, poblano peppers and oil. Toss them around and add a bit of salt and pepper. Add one diced tomato, as well. Put your lid on the slow cooker.
- Blend together your chili powder, cumin, coriander and cinnamon. Mix in a healthy amount of salt and pepper, as well.
- If your beef chuck has an excess of surface fat, remove some of it. However, you want to keep a nice amount of fat for flavor and moisture. Liberally coat your beef chunks with the spice blend, salt and pepper.
- Heat up a large sauté pan, over medium-high heat. Add a lightly flavored oil with a high smoke point. Coconut oil would work nicely. When the oil begins to ripple, add your pieces of meat (do not crowd the pan. You may need to do this in batches). The meat should sear nicely and develop some great flavors. Sear all sides of the meat. When the meat has been seared on all sides, add them to the crock pot with the other vegetables.
- Peel about 4 nice sized strips from the very outer layer of the orange, with a vegetable peeler. You do not want the white part underneath (known as the pith). You just want the nice orange "zest". Add the 4 strips to a blender. Juice the orange and add the juice to the blender, as well. Discard whatever remains of the orange.
- Remove the soften chilies from the hot tap water. They should be soft enough to add to the blender, at this point. Also, add your chocolate and diced tomatoes to the blender.
- Puree the chili-tomato blend, until nice and smooth. Add to the slow cooker.
- Place the lid on the slow cooker and allow cooking for 8 hours.
- Serve alone, or with your favorite toppings and sides!
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26 thoughts on “Slow Cooker All-Beef “South of Texas” Chili”
My (adult) daughter dislikes things cooked in the crockpot because they are always watered down and tasteless. I never thought of leaving the liquids out. I can’t wait to try this recipe and any others you create for the crockpot!
Hi Deb B! Thanks for the thoughts! Even omitting the extra liquids, this STILL was a bit soupy. So far, I definitely understand the crock pot to be a tool for convenience. I understand the desire to want to find the best possible "set it and forget it" recipe, but I confess to not finding my groove with the thing, just yet. If I keep playing with it and keep getting comments like yours (postive or negative), I’ll start gaining a more confident aptitute for the skill. This was definitely tasty. Ugly, but … tasty. Not watery or flavorless at all!
I’ve never added liquids either. I think I would just whizz the dried chilies in a processor or crush them, after removing the seeds and all, instead of soaking them Plenty of liquid in the tomatoes.
I will have to try the Chili – sounds interesting with the orange. Crockpots are so easy to use so keep trying to get comfortable with it. We love to put a tri tip or what ever meat is on sale in the pot with a cup of salsa and cook it on low for 8 hours and just shred when it’s done. It’s the best shredded beef ever. Have fun experimenting!
Sounds delicious, Glenda! I actually do something very similar, but with pork … and in a pot with a lid. I just feel like I have more control in a pot, but … I like to mess and tinker with food, which … makes me somewhat unique. I’m enjoying playing with it, though!
After roasting the peppers, you can put them in a plastic bag and seal for a few minutes to allow them to ‘sweat’ and loosen the skin. This method might be better than the water. The flavor of the peppers would not be watered down.
Hi Unknown, I would agree with you, if these were fresh chilies, but these are DRIED chilies. Without soaking in the water, it would be like throwing leather strips into a blender. "Some" blenders may be able to chew through that, but my guess is, an equal number of blenders will not be so kind. Thanks for the thought, though! 🙂
I live on food cooked in my crockpot. I work 9-10 a day and commute 3 hours so I don’t feel like cooking when I get home. I sear my meat in olive or coconut oil before adding it to the slow cooker, it deepens the flavor. I also try to keep liquid at a minimum because liquid accumulates in the slow cooker. Leftover roasted vegetables and leftover meat, any kind, thrown in a slow cooker with onion, garlic, and a large can of diced fire roasted tomatoes makes the best soup in the world! Cook it slow and low for 8-10 hours…yum! I can hardly wait for St. Patrick’s Day so I can put my corned beef in the slow cooker and come home to corned beef and cabbage.
Thanks for the thoughts, Peggy! 🙂
Just curious why the cocoa powder? I have never cooked meat with that – sounds strange! This looks delicious!
Hi Morgan, it’s a very Mexican thing to do, and a lot of the food from Texas is heavily influences by Mexican culture. Have you ever heard of Mole? (pronounced Mole-ay) The combination of chocolate and chilies goes back further than the combo of chocolate and sugar! Ultimately, it’s an optional ingredient, but I think you’ll really enjoy what it does. It adds a thicker texture and some nice complex tastes. Try it! You won’t regret it!
Just now seeing your reply to my comment from over a month ago as I just came back to print the recipe! Think I’m going to make it this week. I’m actually from Texas but guess I’ve just never heard of using chocolate/cocoa this way. 🙂 Ok, so a little confused as to how to serve this. Chili to me is made with ground beef. This seems more like just a roast dish that I might serve (to my non-low-carb hubby) over rice? Would you serve it that way? I will just eat it alone (over nothing) with a side of some kind of veggie, I guess. I don’t know why I am confused by this dish but I am also compelled to try it! 🙂
Hi Morgan, just eat it! Both you and your husband. In a bowl … with a spoon … down the hatch! 😉 You could serve it with rice. That would be fine and appropriate, but not really necessary. Sorry for the confusion. I didn’t mean to muddle things. It’s just a tasty dish. I might put a big dollop of crema and some mexican cheese on it and … dig in! I hope this helps! 🙂
Where would you find all of these peppers you have in the recipe can I substitute anything for them I have heard of Chiles but not the others please help!
Does the meat shred since its in there for some many hours it sounds divine
i think the cocoa will thicken it and give it a wonderful texture and flavor
Hi Felicia, do you have a Latin grocery store in your area? A lot of the grocery stores in my city have Latin sections, which have all kinds of great Mexican products, spices and chilies. Does this help?
I do think that things can get mushy in a crockpot if you add too much liquid. A small amount is okay. I cooked in a crockpot quite a bit for awhile and then decided that everything was too similar. Now I only use it occasionally. Recently I tried a recipe called Mississippi Pot Roast which had no liquid added (If you google this it will pop right up) It had chuck roast, dry ranch dressing, McCormack’s Au Jus Mix put on top of roast then add 4-5 Pepperoncinis. This was quite delicious. My daughter in law recommended this recipe.
The gravy was quite good served over mock mashed potatoes. I removed all the fat after it cooled.
Thanks for the thoughts, Hilda. Sounds delicious! 🙂
I rarely add extra water to roasts or anything I cook in the crockpot. To make roast I put veggies in the bottom. Season the meat and put it on top of the veg, and then put maybe a 1/4 cup of broth or water in the bottom just so nothing burns or sticks. I do not like watery soups or stews. Definitely try broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage with a roast instead of the common potatoes and carrots.
All good tips, Melissa. Thanks!
I’ve learned to not add extra water to my crockpot creations as it makes too much sloshy stuff. The juices pulled out from the cooking is enough. Your recipe looks great and remember slow cooking over 6-8 hours is enough to soften almost all meats/poultry. I just did pork ribs with my own LC BBQ sauce and my hubby said it was better than we’ve bought at local BBQ joints. Using a crock pot is a convenience in my opinion and I haven’t failed yet on anything I’ve made in mine. Chicken, turkey, meat, pork. So many possibilities of fantastic recipes are out there. And I’ll give this recipe a try. Hope you learn to appreciate the "Joys of Crockpot Cooking" the way I have.
Hiya NannyPat! I’m no stranger to crockpot cooking, but … where I come from, it’s called "Braising" and tends to come as a complete culinary discipline. If I had any beef with crock pots, it’s mostly that the lid is clamped down and the approach is almost, by design … "hands free". I’m a "hands on" cook, so the locked down lid makes me feel locked out of my own meal. I can’t get in there and push things around, taste, tinker, re-season, etc. I’m old school … I like a big pan with a lid, on the stove. Easy access, Baby! 😉
Hi DJFoodie! Love your recipes and posts! My go-to crock pot recipe has always been a 3 pound boneless shoulder
roast, dump in two cans of Campbell’s French onion soup, cook on low 8-10 hours. Dinner’s done when I get in from work! However, I have not made this since going low carb so I am not sure if this soup is on the plan. It is, however, mighty delicious!!
I am from Texas and love chili…and I’ve sure eaten my fair share of it over the years. I have found in the last few years that, like good spaghetti sauce (versus a premium jarred brand like Rao’s), making home made chili is almost not worth it anymore. treat yourself to a couple of packages of Cindy Wilkinson’s "Cin-Chili" chili mix, and make it EXACTLY like it says on the package. the balance of flavors will knock your socks off, and it’s on the table in an hour. It calls for two pounds of meat, and I use a rough ground chuck for half and maybe a pound of slivered chuck eye for the balance, for a variety of textures. It is also relatively low carb.
As far as the crockpot goes, people tend to think the longer it stays in the crockpot the better, and nothing could be further from the truth. that roast WILL get stringy and tough after a certain amount of time. I check every hour for that point of perfect tenderness and shut it down to warm at that point. Also, a lot of recipes have to be pulled together in the traditional way fist, then transferred to the crockpot, or they will never develop the traditional flavor and consistency of the classic versions. Red beans is a perfect example of this…..you simply can’t make good beans in a crockpot…but if you pull them all together to the point where you are ready to let them simmer, and THEN transfer them to the crockpot, they can be extraordinary.
Hi Angie, a lot of it comes down to how much you use. Onions, unfortunately, tend to be fairly high in carbs, but there?s always a balance that works. Find it ? and enjoy! :D<br /><br />
Tim, thanks for putting time into those thoughts. I?ll be sure to look into the chili blend you?re referring to. Regarding everything else ? I?m personally a bit off with the slow cookers. I?m FAR more familiar with ?braising?, which is basically what slow cookers do. I would personally rather cook things in a certain way, properly seasoned and cooked for a specific period of time, adding things at different times to build tastes and textures. However, this gets into ?cooking?, as opposed to the ?set it and forget it? type of cooking that slow cookers seem to embrace. As a result, I?ve really tried to keep the steps fairly minimal and the timing ? slow and steady. I would do this VERY differently, as a fully realized and tinkered with ?braised? dish, but my aim was to shoot for more of a set it and forget it kind of thing ? if that makes any sense ?
I love using the crock pot. I am not a chef or even close to a professional cook but my family has really liked all the crock pot recipes of your that I have made. Especially the gumbo. Made it for my sisters house warming party and have been asked to make it for Christmas eve dinner at our family gathering. I work 10 hours at least a day and am a mom and wife. We dont go out to 4 or 5 star restaurants and I dont have time to spend 3 hours making dinner when everyone gets home. Thank you for giving us variety and good food! Merry Christmas DJ!!!
—Reply posted by DJ on 2/5/2015
Hi Betsy! The company that hosts my website just changed the way they do comments, so I can’t post links anymore (BLEH!) … In any event, just go to the top of the page, click “Search”, type in “Gumbo” and you’ll see it. Having just made it last week … it’s delish! 😀
—Reply posted by Betsy on 2/5/2015
Oooo … Would love to have your gumbo recipe. Love all your recipes so far but I don’t remember seeing a gumbo recipe. Please post the link. Thanks ever so much!
—Reply posted by Betsy on 2/5/2015
Oops… Would love to have your gumbo recipe. Love all your recipes so far but I don’t remember seeing a gumbo recipe. Please post the link. Thanks ever so much!
Can’t wait to try this!
As to the unwanted soupiness, I have been making shredded machaca beef in the crock pot for years. My method: Sear the whole chunk of meat, put it in the crockpot with no liquid at all, and let it cook on low for about 6 hours. Pull off all liquid that has cooked out and save to use in soups, etc. Replace all that liquid with salsa and continue to cook on low for about 4-6 hours. That’s the quick and dirty solution.
However, I’d like to try this and add the xanthan gum to thicken and keep all those wonderful wet flavors from the meat in the chili. Thanks for this one.