Three-hundred tomato chili

slow cooker

My slow cooker is a Grand Gourmet 4-qt. slow cooker. This isn't it, but it looks kind of like this.

Last Christmas, I received a slow-cooker as a gift. For someone as lazy as me, it was an ideal gift—I could dump a lot of ingredients into the pot for a few hours and come back with a cooked meal. Easy success. When I moved to Boston in January, I took the slow-cooker with me. It sat on the bottom of my closet for months while I attempted to get my life together. It was always the next month when I was going to cook with it, and then it was summer and hot soups didn’t sound so great anymore.

Now that it’s December, I decided to finally try my first slow-cooker recipe so it wouldn’t go a year without being used, sitting sadly on the bottom of our kitchen cabinet. I found a recipe for Three Bean Turkey Chili. I originally wanted to try a white chicken chili, but I chose this one because I’m trying to save money and most of the ingredients are canned. Sometimes, money-saving -> fancy cooking. Sometimes.

I’d never cooked with ground turkey before, but I know it’s healthier than beef, and whenever my roommate makes turkey burgers I want to steal a bite when she turns her back. The only thing that needed to be prepared ahead of time was the turkey, so I got really ambitious and aimed to get up before work, cook the turkey, and put all the ingredients in the slow-cooker to be ready when I got home from work.

Well, that didn’t last when the alarm clock went off on Friday morning. I rolled over and went back to sleep, and decided to save it for the weekend. It turned out to be a great decision, considering what happened on Saturday.

Around 1 in the afternoon, I lined up all the cans of beans I needed (black, kidney, and northern) on the counter and started cooking the turkey. When it was done, I went to get out the slow cooker out of its hiding place, and had to wipe dust off the top of the box. I dumped the contents out on my bed and picked up the User’s Guide. I’m the kind of person who actually reads them.

As it turns out, the slow-cooker needed a fair amount of babying to be ready for use. I had to wash the pot, and wipe the outer part with a damp cloth. Then let it dry. Then I had to pour in two cups of water and let it simmer on high for twenty minutes. Then let it cool. Then rinse the pot out. Then let it dry. By the time I was done with all the prep, I thought about putting the thing away for another year. But then I’d have to start all over.

By this time, the cooked turkey had been sitting out for awhile, and the entire process of cooking the chili began to seem unappetizing. What do you mean, I need to wait four hours for dinner? (I had originally planned on cooking it on low for about 6 hours, but by the time it was all ready to go, I knew I’d waste away with hunger before then). I dumped the turkey into the pot, and opened all the cans. Did you know the beans had to be rinsed? I learn new things about cooking every day.

Then I reread the recipe. One can (48 oz) of diced tomatoes. I had put in one can (14 oz). I was still in my pajamas. I thought about just going with it, but since the recipe didn’t contain a lot of liquid and said to use the undrained tomatoes, I didn’t want to skimp and risk burning it all. Leaving the kitchen a mess of cans, I put on tennis shoes and huffily walked to the grocery store. Yet another lesson—read the recipe carefully. As I stomped through the store, I had a moment of gratitude that I hadn’t decided to do this in the morning. Walking to the grocery store at 7a.m. was much less appealing than 3 in the afternoon.

After adding the rest of the tomatoes, I put the lid on and turned the crockpot on high. The glass lid fogged up, which was cruel for someone cooking in it for the first time. I was dying to see what’s going on in there, or if anything had caught on fire. But since the users’ guide was very specific about NOT lifting the lid, and because I’m the sort of person who listens to users’ guides, I resisted temptation.

Two hours later. . .

My apartment smelled like my grandparents’ house. And that’s a good thing—my grandma is a phenomenal cook. Every Christmas, we have a soup dinner where she makes three different kinds of soup. Chili is always one of them, along with her often-requested noodle soup. The table is full of crackers and cheeses for topping. Everyone has at least three bowls.

Four hours later. . .

This chili should be called “Three Hundred Tomato Chili.” I’ve always had trouble with the texture of tomatoes, and I’ve only recently started being able to tolerate fresh tomatoes. I feel like all recipes should indicate the tomato-chunk to other ingredient ratio. Not everyone can love slimy, crunchy chunks of tomato.

However, the chili turned out quite nicely, with just the right amount of spice. The best part—I won’t have to cook anything for a week, at least. And I only had to clean one dish when I was done.

2 Responses to “Three-hundred tomato chili”
  1. Lydia A says:

    Hey Jill! Where is my chili???

    Just so you know, White Chicken Chili is actually very easy as well. Just need some chicken… cooked then diced, can of green chilies, can of white northern beans, and vegetables if you’d like them (corn might be good!). Some onions and garlic etc. You should definitely go for that one next weekend!

    I love reading about Jill’s adventures!

  2. Sometimes I just think that people write and dont really have much to say. Not so here

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