Is it just me, or do you feel insanely retro when you cook in your slow cooker/crockpot (which one is it…can someone tell me?! I’ll just use both interchangeably in this post, in hopes of getting it right half the time). I picture the yellow floral kitchen wallpaper from my childhood years. And feel like I should be wearing an apron with my hair up in some big do. Anyway, moving on. I must admit that I have a love-hate relationship with my crockpot. Some things I cook in there are insanely good and others I can hardly chew. Mostly has to do with the texture of meats. I’m certain I’m doing something wrong and that it’s not the cookers fault, but when I nail it, well, I nail it good. This recipe gets around those meat texture issues by using ground meat. It soaks up all the goodness around it without getting dry and chewy (oh what, that doesn’t sound delicious?). Fall is in full swing around these parts, so the slow cooker and chili seem like a no brainer. As many of you know I like to make things as healthy as possible for me and my family. Sometimes that works and other times it really doesn’t. For this dish I decided to use organic ground bison, which is decidedly more healthy than beef (read more on that here), but full of flavor. I also have a load of sweet potatoes in there, providing some sweet heartiness into the mix. This combination turned out amazing. Kind of a moroccan chili with the addition of warm cinnamon flavors in there. I’m sure chili experts would tell me this is NOT chili, but whatever. I’m a chili rebel. Pop these ingredients in your crockpot for the day, and you’ll have dinner (and an amazing-smelling house) when you get home!
Sweet Potato & Bison Chili, serves 6 – but maybe less because it’s SO good. (recipe adapted from this recipe @ Real Simple)
- 1 lb organic ground bison (feel free to sub another ground meat here)
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon chili powder (I omit since the kids love this and they aren’t so good with heat yet)
- 1 medium onion, chopped (i’ve used both red and yellow, no matter here)
- 1 bell pepper, chopped (I’ve used 2 peppers to up the veggies, and it works well too)
- 4 garlic cloves, chopped
- kosher salt and black pepper
- 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
- 1 15.5-ounce can black beans, rinsed
- 1 15.5-ounce can kidney beans, rinsed (I used white kidneys because that’s what I had…use what you got, peeps!)
- 4 small sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/4 – 1⁄2 inch pieces
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- cook ground bison in a skillet over medium heat, breaking up with a spatula as it cooks, until browned. mix in the cumin, cocoa powder, ground cinnamon, chili powder and some salt and pepper in the last few minutes (or don’t use the chili powder…as the case may be). I like when these spices get cooked into the meat a little bit. then put into your slow cooker (I have a 6 quart cooker)
- in the same pan you cooked your bison in, sauté chopped onion, bell pepper and garlic until tender – place in the slow cooker with the bison.
- add your diced tomatoes (with all juices), black beans, kidney beans, sweet potatoes and tomato paste into the slow cooker with 1 cup of water. Add some salt and pepper and give it a big stir.
- cook on high for 4 – 5 hours, or low for 7 – 8. If cooking on low, which I’ve done, I just crank up to high for that last hour…I like when it gets a good bubble going and think it thickens nicely. If you aren’t there to do that, it probably doesn’t matter. I just clearly can’t set-and-forget the way crockpots were made to do.
- when done cooking, salt and pepper to taste
- serve your chili with some grated cheese and corn chips, or whatever you typically like on your chili. This one is full of flavor, so I always serve it simply.