Ah, the crockpot, our favorite appliance for patient, no-stress, flavor-building cooking. Chili is one of the best things to make in the slow cooker, pretty much the easiest way to get the richness of a long-simmering stovetop chili. To start developing the flavors, sauté the vegetables, ground beef, and spices, then put the mixture into the crockpot along with tomatoes and kidney beans. Let it do its thing overnight or all day until it’s thickened and has a nice beefy flavor, then stir in jalapeños for a kick of heat. Serve with Skillet Cornbread or Buttermilk Biscuits, or as the essential component of Chili-Cheese Nachos.
Note: To use dried beans in place of canned, start with 1 cup dried beans, soaked and cooked to yield 3 cups.
Game plan: The flavors continue to develop as the chili sits, so go ahead and make it up to 2 days in advance and refrigerate it in a container with a tightfitting lid. It can also be frozen for up to 1 month.