Introduction: Slow Cooker Chili Con Carnage
There are few recipes out there that can deliver the same gut-warming, stomach filling satisfaction a good bowl of chili can. Chili is one of those dishes that is surprisingly easy to make, and once you master the basics, you can adjust to meet just about any palate.
We’re also going to make something extra special for this recipe…skinless chicken sausage skulls. This part of the recipe involves a little science and a dash of molecular magic, but the end results are well worth the added effort.
Step 1: Gather Your Ingredients
First, let’s gather our main chili ingredients.
To make your own chili con carnage, you will need:
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1 lb diced beef stew meat
- 1/2 yellow onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed and diced
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 can beef stock
- 1/4 cup red wine
- 2 tablespoons Kashmir chili (you can substitute regular chili powder or cayenne as well)
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon coriander
- 1 teaspoon brown sugar
- 1 small can tomato paste
- 14oz can red kidney beans
- 14oz can crushed tomatoes
- 1 1/2 tablespoons ground cumin
- 2 tablespoons extra dark cocoa powder
- 1.25 oz (1 package) McCormick Original Chili Powder – 1 Tablespoon
Step 2: Making the Chili
In a saucepan over medium-high heat, saute your diced onions until translucent and golden, about 3-5 minutes.
Add your garlic and continue to saute for another 2-3 minutes.
Transfer to your crockpot and return your pan to the heat.
Add your ground beef and cook until brown. Scoop out of your pan using a slotted spoon, making sure you leave the grease in the pan. Transfer your cooked ground beef to your crockpot.
Add your diced stew meat to the leftover ground beef grease and again, cook until brown. Just before your beef cubes are done cooking, deglaze the pan with your red wine, cooking and stirring constantly for another 2-3 minutes. Drain and add the cooked meat to your crockpot. Save 1/4 cup of your red wine infused grease and add that to the crockpot as well.
Add all your spices minus the 1 Tablespoon of McCormick chili powder. You’ll need that for the chicken sausage.
Pour in your beef broth, add in your cocoa powder, your brown sugar, your tomatoes and your beans.
Cover your slow cooker, and set to 4-6 hours.
While it might be done in 2 hours, the longer it cooks, the deeper and more integrated the flavor. I suggest tasting it as you go.
Step 3: Making Molecular Magic
Now, if we were simply making chili, this would be the end of the recipe.
Congratulations, you’re done…if you’re boring!
But we’re not! Let’s add some CARNAGE to that Chili!
To make our skinless chicken sausages, we’re going to take a step back from the normal and cross over into the world of molecular gastronomy and science and work with a product called transglutaminase.
Transglutaminase, also known as meat glue, is a naturally occurring enzyme found in both plants and animals and can be used to bind proteins together.
Transglutaminase is safe to cook with and eat…and has been approved by the US Food & Drug Administration as so. However, as it is a binding agent, you do need to be careful when working with it. Transglutaminase is sold in a very fine powder form, and as such, should not be breathed in. Always work with TG in a safe environment where the possibility of it being exposed to wind or a breeze is zero.
Avoid breathing in TG dust and always wash your hands after use.
So where do you get transglutaminase? I picked up mine from the Modernist Pantry. It’s a bit pricey, but a little bit goes a long way…and once you use it, you’ll want to use it again and again!
Step 4: Chicken Milkshakes
To make your skinless chicken sausages you will need:
- 1 lb ground chicken
- 1 tablespoon of the McCormick chili powder we saved from the chili recipe above
- 1.5 oz transglutaminase powder
- 1/4 cup water
- brown food coloring
You will also need a good skull baking pan that is oven safe. Give it a good spritz with cooking spray and preheat your oven to 350F/176C.
In a food processor, mix together your chicken and chili powder and blend well. Mix your transglutaminase with a tablespoon of water and add that to the chicken as well.
Now we’re going to add enough water to create a thick slurry. With your food processor going, drizzle in your water a little at a time until you get the consistency just slightly thicker than a really thick milkshake (mmm…chicken milkshakes).
Using a spoon, scoop your slurry out of your food processor and fill your skull baking pans. 1 lb of chicken filled 5 of the 6 skulls up about 1/2 way each.
Tap your pan on your table to help shake out any air bubbles and then pop into the oven to cook for about 25 minutes.
As they cook, the skulls will shrink by about 1/3. You will be able to tell they’re done when the top is a crusty golden and they feel firm to the touch…almost springy.
Turn your pan upside down and they should pop right out.
Feel free to add some depth to their features using a little brown food coloring and water.
Step 5: Grind Your Bones to Make Your Bread
Of course, what good is chili without cornbread?!? And to really sell the CARNAGE part of our chili con carnage, we'll be using a bone-shaped mold to bake our bread.
To make your own cornbread, you will need:
- 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 1 cup cornmeal
- 3/4 cup flour
- 1 Tablespoon sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt (if using salted butter, cut this measurement in half)
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
Preheat your oven to 425F and lightly grease your bone baking pan.
In a large bowl, combine your cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt (if using).
In a separate bowl, mix your eggs and buttermilk. Drizzle in your melted butter and combine well.
Once your buttermilk, eggs and butter are mixed, drizzle this mixture over your dry ingredients and fold together until there are no dry spots. Don't worry if your batter's a bit lumpy...it happens.
Fill each bone 1/2 full with your batter and bake in your oven for 10-15 minutes or until the top is golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean.
Step 6: Bringing It All Together
To serve your chili con carnage, scoop up a healthy scoop of your chili into a bowl.
Top with a skinless chicken sausage skull and embellish with some cornbread crossbones.
Sprinkle with grated cheese, fresh diced onions, and sour cream if you’d like.
While this chili is delicious the day you make it, it’s even better the next day.
As for how it is on day three…I can’t tell you…it’s never lasted that long!
Runner Up in the
Slow Cooker Challenge