Beef & tomato chili in a slow cooker

A slow-cooked beef chili with the accent on tomatoes, and finished with fresh vegetables. Serve it with kidney beans and rice if you must, but I much prefer a bed of green beans, fresh baby corn, asparagus or other veggies. This recipe just fits a 4 quart slow cooker.


Makes: 4 servings, with plenty of leftover chili and sauce
Time: About 8 hours, mostly unattended.

  • 2 pounds of beef chuck
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons of soy sauce
  • 1 cup of red wine
  • 1 large red onion (about 12 ounces), sliced
  • 2 large red sweet peppers
  • 3 cups of baby carrots, sliced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper
  • 3 teaspoons of kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons dried oregano
  • 3 tablespoons of minced garlic
  • 3 tablespoons of fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons of chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon of cumin
  • 1 cup of fresh salsa, “hot”
  • 1 35 ounce (1000g) can of peeled plum tomatoes

Vegetables for serving & final garnishes

  • 4 loose cups of sliced green beans
  • 12-15 ears of baby corn
  • 1 bunch of asparagus
  • 4 tablespoons of fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  • 20-25 green olives
  • 20-25 grape tomatoes, halved
  • .5 cup fresh “hot” salsa
  • Tortilla chips for garnishes
  1. Heat a large frying pan with 1 tablespoon of olive oil coating the pan. Add the beef chuck and stir while the beef browns on medium to high heat.
  2. Sprinkle a small amount of soy sauce on the meat from time to time, to add flavor and aid in the browning.
  3. Place the browned meat in the slow cooker, and de-glaze the pan with .5 cup red wine. Make sure to get as much pan browning as possible as you de-glaze, to capture all that flavor.
  4. Wipe out and re-heat the pan, add more olive oil, and add the sliced red onion. Heat until the onions are browned, about 5 minutes on medium heat, and de-glaze again with another .5 cup red wine. Add the onions and wine to the slow cooker.
  5. Push a fork into the stem end of each red pepper. Roast the pepper over a burner (ideally a gas burner) until the pepper skin begins to blacken (see photo below). Allow the peppers to cool enough to handle them.
  6. Clean out the inside seeds and pith of the red peppers, and rough-chop them, leaving the skin intact on the pieces. Add the pepper pieces to the slow cooker.
  7. Slice the jalapeno pepper into circles that include the interior pith and seeds. Place the pepper slices into the slow cooker.
  8. Add all of the spices and the fresh salsa into the cooker. Add the entire contents of the the plum tomato can (all liquid and the tomatoes) into the slow cooker. Stir all the ingredients to mix thoroughly.
  9. How you set the slow cooker depends on your schedule. If you have a full 8 hours, set the cooker on the low temperature. If you only have 4-6 hours, put the cooker on high and stir about once an hour. The longer you slow-cook the chili, the more tender and flavorful the beef will be, so don’t try to rush this meal or you’ll get tough, stringy beef.

Finishing the chili & vegetables

  1. Place the green beans, baby corn, and asparagus into a steamer basket in a 6-quart (or other suitable) covered pan and steam about 4-5 minutes until the vegetables are just done, but still firm.
  2. Plate the vegetables for each serving in the center of each dish, then spoon the chili sauce and beef chunks over the vegetables.
  3. Finish by scattering tablespoon of fresh salsa over each portion, and scattering the olives and grape tomatoes over the pile. Sprinkle with the remaining chopped cilantro and serve.

Thoroughly browning the beef enhances the flavor of any chili or beef stew. Sprinkle sparingly with soy sauce to enhance the browning.

Browning the onions for chili.

The browned onions, de-glazed with a half a cup of red wine.

Roasting peppers over a gas burner on stove.

This is a fast, easy way to produce roasted red peppers, particularly on a gas range.

Picture of all ingredients in the 4-quart slow-cooker.

All ingredients combined into the slow cooker.

Picture of the finished dish on a plate.

A lighter, healthier alternative to the usual styles of chili.

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