Slow and Easy Homemade Chili

or delicious warmth for the body and soul

Fall is finally here!  And what better way to welcome it than with a big bowl of chili?  Personally I can not believe that I haven't shared my slow cooker chili on here yet, it is a staple in our house in just about every season.  This is comfort food fit for a rainy day, football Sunday, or a gathering with friends - and the leftovers are fantastic if you manage to have any.

The original recipe was purely a meat packed bowl of deliciousness with a slightly spicy savory sauce but it has come a little ways since then with the addition most recently of chili beans and the periodic inclusion of pasta for "chili-mac" (both of which significantly increase the resulting volume).  I also like to dress it up quite a bit in the end as you can see in the picture below.  Some of my friends have taken this as a base recipe and added some browned stew beef to it to beef it up even more, I can only guess that this resulted in further deliciousness.  But you'll have to try some personal variations of your own to see where it can really take you.

It seems like a lot of ingredients but it's so easy it won't even feel like work.  I like to prep the meat mixture separately from the sauce the night before then toss it all together in the slow cooker in the morning.  But you could even prep it all and store it in a gallon freezer bag if you prefer to just dump once and go.  You can leave the beans out if you have picky eaters, like myself, it took me quite a few years to come around to accepting them in my bowl of chili so I can understand the hesitation.  But who, really, can resist a big hot bowl of chili on a brisk Fall day?  I certainly can't....  Check it out

1½ lbs ground beef
8 oz ground sausage (no casing)
1 tsp fresh minced garlic
4 tbsp fresh minced onion
1 can (14.5 oz) petite diced tomatoes
1 can (16 oz) tomato sauce
1 small can (6 oz) tomato paste
1 can mild chili beans (optional)
½ teaspoon white sugar
2 tsp brown sugar
½ teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1½ teaspoons ground cumin
3 tbsp chili powder

1. Place ground beef and sausage in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium-high heat with onion and garlic until beginning to brown. Season with cumin and chili powder, once around the pan each. Continue to cook until evenly browned. Drain and crumble.

2. In the slow cooker - combine diced tomatoes, half of the tomato sauce, the tomato paste, white sugar, spices, and brown sugar until well blended.

3. Add the ground meat to the slow cooker and then pour the remaining tomato sauce over top. Stir until thoroughly mixed. Stir in a little additional water, if needed, and chili beans. Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours.

4. Taste and add spices to taste. If there is too much liquid, turn the slow cooker to high and leave the lid off until desired consistency.

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