My ALL TIME favorite thing about fall/winter is making my family & friend-famous chili (I just made my chili “famous” in my own head haha). This is a family recipe that my dad used to make every time the temperature and the leaves started dropping. I have taken and twisted it into my own, but all the real cred goes back to my pops for starting it off.
This batch I made is particularly HOT. I did it this way because usually I’m making chili for like a gillion people and 75% of them “can’t handle heat”, but this time, it was all for my husband and myself! We love hot food (and I still am getting peppers from my garden) so it was time to spice this bad boy up. ***PLEASE NOTE*** The cayenne and jalapeno pepper are optional. You can either omit them all together or if you would like you can sub in a milder pepper like a normal green pepper if you still want that veggie aspect.
Next major point – I make my chili with lean ground turkey. This is a particular preference of mine. I have a super weird thing about the texture of ground beef so I hardly ever use it – that’s just me, there is definitely no ground beef judgement on my end! You can use ground beef if you prefer it. The only thing that I would suggest doing if you use ground beef is draining the cook meat into a jar or container for other use or disposal prior to putting in the crock-pot. I don’t do this with ground turkey becasue it’s pretty lean to begin with. DO NOT drain the ground beef down the second. That will clog your drain.
Another key note, this is BULK chili. I am talking about hearty servings of about 14 – 16. If you need to (why would you need to??) you can cut things in half or so on to make as little as you need. But again, why would you need to?? When we eat chili, we eat it for days – yum yum yum!
And finally, I usually use a can of kidney beans, but this time I couldn’t find any? So I used multiple cans of pinto and black beans. You can really throw in any kind of bean you want though! All righty then, here we go for crock-pot chili!!!
This is essentially what we are cooking with here! Only not pictured is the ground turkey because it wasn’t visually appealing to stick in 😛
Just some pics of what we are working with. The main seasonings are McCormick’s Chili seasoning (they make a gluten free version, but so far I can only find it in packets…and you will see, you need more than just packets), CUMIN (this one is huge – I’m OBSESSED with cumin), crushed red pepper, ground cayenne and not pictured chili powder. You can also add paprika to taste as well (I did not but sometimes I do). Fresh foods in there are jalapeno, cayenne, garlic and a decent sized white onion. As I previously stated you can sub the hot peppers for milder one OR you can seed them so they are not as hot. Last but not least, the canned goods are at min one can of fire roasted tomatoes (I am not brand particular on this one, but try to find one that is laced with basil or other seasonings), diced tomatoes, crushed tomatoes (usually I prefer stewed but randomly all the stewed ones were in additional seasoning – don’t buy things in additional seasoning…so I got the crushed), black beans and pinto beans. You should/can add kidney beans, but for some reason all the ones had other seasonings in them so I just got more of the other cans. I do not use canned chili beans. Also note, the canned tomatoes are the big ones, minus the fire roasted, but you can get a big fire roasted if you want. I use Pam to spray my skillet so the ground turkey doesn’t stick.
Dice up four hearty sized garlic cloves. Make sure it’s pretty much minced. You can add more, but I would not add less. The garlic is important even if you are not a fan. My husband isn’t a fan, and he can’t even tell!
Dice up the whole onion.
Toss 2.5 pounds of ground turkey in a skillet. You can use any of your liking (non-stick, cast iron, stainless steel – it doesn’t matter). My husband insists on squishing the lines out with his hands prior to putting it in. Next up we season! The first layer is a HEFTY pour of the McCormick’s chili seasoning. You basically blanket all the ground turkey in it. Then blanket is again with the cumin. Those are the two tan seasonings making up that layer. Follow that up with about 6 hearty shakes of cayenne and crushed red pepper. Cayenne is the orange and the crushed red pep are the flakes. Note cayenne and crushed red pep are hot, but at this point in the recipe, this layer of heat won’t really affect many people so I would definitely include this for the initial kick. If you are catering to VERY heat sensitive people, you can half it and always add more later down the line….there will be more! After that first layer, start breaking it up with a spatula then add some more chili seasoning and cumin. Continue to break it up and brown the turkey over medium to high heat, right in between the two.
After a few minus of browning, add in the minced garlic. I added another layer of chili seasoning, cumin and some more crushed red pepper (optional). Mix it up good with the spatula. You can turn the temperature down to just above medium at this point. Let it brown some more.
Then add in the chopped onion, again stir it around with the spatula. Try to break up any more big chunks of ground turkey. Let the onion saute while the meat browns some more.
Let the onion saute while the meat browns some more over that slightly higher than medium heat. Stirring occasionally so nothing burns and the juices all mix together.
While the ground turkey and onion are cooking, dice up the peppers of your choice if you are adding peppers into the mix.
Once the onion is clear and the ground turkey is brown put it into the crock-pot. ***If using ground beef, drain the fat before doing this into a container for re-purposing or disposal.*** I do not do this with the ground turkey because it’s very lean. If you use 99% lean ground beef, you might be able to skip the draining only if there is not a lot of excess fat.
At this point we will season again. First there is another blanket layer of the McCormick’s chili seasoning and cumin. Next I add in my chili powder. I didn’t picture it initially because my chili powder is hodge-podge from mixing like half used bottles over time into one container. The dark red is HOT chili powder. When you purchase the chili powder there will be a distinction between regular and hot on the label. Please pick your preference. Ideally, I would have liked to add a lot more than what I had available, but I didn’t know I had that little left.
Follow the chili powder up with more cayenne and crushed pepper. Go lightly or not at all if you do not want much heat. Also feel free to toss in some more paprika at this point if you care to.
Add in your peppers and the canned tomatoes. Because I felt like the crushed tomatoes was a little “saucier” than I would have liked, I drained the diced tomatoes so my chili did not come out soupy. Open one can of each at first and if for some reason your crushed or stewed (if you can find non-seasoned stewed tomatoes) look like spaghetti sauce, drain your diced. If they look like chunks of tomatoes, you probably don’t need to drain them.
Toss on another layering of McCormick’s chili seasoning (not the powder). Drain your beans of the excess water, then add them in, too!
One last layer of McCormick’s (see I told you packets are not going to cut it) and cumin. You can add any of the hot seasonings I’ve outlined (cayenne, crushed red pep, chili powder or paprika) if you care to. I don’t usually at this point. I want to see how everything jives because the first rule of heat is that things get hotter the longer they sit together. So I wait and taste test down the line to see if it need more kick. YOU CAN ALWAYS ADD MORE KICK LATER!!! You cannot take kick out – actually not true…if for some reason it’s too hot add more tomatoes and squeeze a lemon or lime wedge into it. The acidity in those items will help cut the heat. If you start slow and know your heat tolerance than you should be okay and won’t have to resort to that. I stir everything together. Then I set it on high for about 3 hours. The best part about this chili is that everything is actually already cooked so if you are in a time crunch you can set on high for 2 hours, and it eat after that. I prefer longer – usually at MINIMUM 3 hours on high and then 1 to 2 hours on keep warm. The longer you cook it in the crock-pot, the more flavor you are going to get out of it. Prior to the chili being done, I open it up a couple of times ( approx 2 – 4), stir it around, taste test, add more seasoning if need be. Quick note – I never once added any salt. You do not need to.
And here it is, in all its steamy chili glory!!!! YUM!
This the magic touch. About 15 minutes before it’s done, make NOODLES for your chili. I grew up always eating my chili with noodles. My dad made it with elbow macaroni, which all fine and dandy, but I like to do it with all sorts of noodles now. These are the long spiral-y macaroni noodles, rotini works great and shells are always fantastic. Essentially, you are making a chili-mac because you put a layer of noodles down, then a layer of cheese and then wait for it…
TA-DA! You throw a layer of chili down over the noodles and cheese and top with another layer of cheese!!! The cheese is usually cheddar, but this is actually a Mexican blend left over from tacos earlier in the week lol. All that is left, is enjoying this amazing goodness in your mouth! Hope you love it as much I do!
Crock-Pot Chili Time:
Servings: 14 – 16 (yea – it’s huge)
- Crock-Pot/Slow Cooker
- Cutting board
- 2.5 pounds of ground turkey or beef (if it’s beef try to make it lean, if you can)
- 1 large white onion
- 4 or more cloves of garlic
- 1 Jalapeno and 1 cayenne pepper – feel free to sub a mild pepper, seed these peppers or leave them out all together
- McCormick’s chili season
- Ground cayenne pepper
- Crushed red pepper
- Chili powder
- Paprika (optional)
- Noodles of your cheese (recommendations are above)
- Shredded cheese (recommendations are above)
Instructions: ***I GO INTO DETAIL ABOUT THE SEASONING ABOVE!!!! I strongly recommend reading the instructions above so you know how to season properly. Below I will just say season when you are suppose to season***
- Mince garlic cloves & dice onion – set aside
- Spray skillet, place ground turkey in the skillet and begin to brown over medium to high heat – season again after mixing the seasoning once
- After a few minutes, add in minced garlic and some more McCormick’s chili seasoning
- Let the meat and garlic brown some more
- Add in diced onion
- Allow meat and onion to cook together – cook until the onion is translucent and meat is brown. At this point, if you are using ground beef, drain your beef into a container for re-purposing or disposal. If you used ground turkey or 99% lean ground beef, you can transfer the meat and onions into the crock-pot directly without draining
- Dice and add in peppers. If you are using hot peppers, you can seed them to make them milder
- Add in cans of tomatoes, season, beans and then season again! Mix it all up
- Set the crock-pot for high cook time for at least 3 hours, then feel free to switch it to low or keep warm for the remainder of the time if you are not eating it right away
- About 20 mins before it’s done begin making noodles per the box instructions
- Once you are ready to serve the chili, fill a bowl with noodles, then cheese, then chili and then of course more cheese!!!! Also you can top with sour cream and/or oyster crackers if you care to
Phew – this is a long one, but there you have my family and friend famous crock-pot chili recipe! It makes a ton so feel free to take it for lunch or freeze it and eat all winter because this will certainly keep you warm on those cold days! I really hope you enjoy this recipe as much as myself, family and friends have enjoyed it.
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