Ginger Chili in a Slow Cooker

photo (1).JPG

This is a complex, potent chili made with a slow cooker. There are infinite variations on the core concept, and as with all chili recipes feel free to vary your spiciness levels with the amount of chili or ginger to taste. I personally like the added flavor dimensions that the ginger adds, as well as the textural dimensions of the black lentils. I will describe it as made above. 


  • 1 tablespoon oil (for skillet) - Phase One and Two
  • pounds ground Protein - Here it's 90-10 beef, but turkey or bison is also fine. For a vegetarian version, try one of Trader Joe's Soy-rizo "sausages" and skip Phase Two by just adding the Soy-rizo directly to the slow-cooker. OR mix and match with a pound of protein and part of a Soy-rizo "sausage." - Phase Two
  • 3 chopped Yellow Onions - Preferably re or, barring that, vidalia - Phase One
  • 3 teaspoons salt - Phases Two and Four
  • 3 teaspoons chili powder - I like to blend mexican-style and chipotle chili powder. You can add more for more heat, but you will get heat from the ginger and dried chiles. - Phases Two and Four
  • 8 dried chiles - I like 4 Guajillos and 4 Serranos, but that's personal taste. You can also go with anchos, or, if you're bolder, habaneros. Or, if you don't want to bother with dried chiles at all, try using crushed red pepper flakes, approximately a teaspoon or more based on desired heat - Phase Three
  • Two (2) 28 ounce cans of Peeled Tomatoes. I like Cento San Marzano - Phase Three
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger - Phase Four 
  • 2 inches of a fresh ginger root, peeled then grated - Phase Four
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds - Phase Four
  • 1.5 ounces reposado tequila (optional) - Phase Four
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced - Phase Four
  • 3 cans of beans - 1 Black, 1 Dark Red Kidney, 1 Pinto - I like pink beans instead of the pinto, but they can be very, very hard to find sometimes. My dream is to use an entire bag of dried pink beans instead of these cans, but I'll have to find a bag of dried pink beans first. It is like my white whale. - Phase Four
  • 1/2 cup dried beluga lentils - I just like what these bring to the party - Phase Four

Gear :

  • Skillet
  • Food Processor
  • Slow cooker

Phase One - Caramelize the Onions

Heat oil on high in skillet and drop in chopped onions. Sprinkle some of the salt on them. Caramelize by cooking on high 20 minutes or more depending on your stove-top. Drop onions in slow cooker when done, SET SLOW COOKER TO HIGH.

Phase Two -  Brown the protein

Drop the protein directly into the skillet after removing the onions. Add one teaspoon of both the salt and the chili powder to coat. Brown the protein and break up for about 4 minutes. Drain fat and add to slow cooker. If going vegetarian, skip this stage and add the soy-rizo "sausage" directly to the slow-cooker.

Phase Three - Food Processor

Cut off stems of dried chiles, place in food processor, and pulse until shredded. Add to slow cooker. Next, place canned peeled tomatoes into food processor and process until chunky. Add to slow cooker. 

Phase Four - Dump in the Rest 

Add the rest of the salt, chili powder, ground ginger, fresh, grated ginger (I like to grate the peeled ginger directly into the slow cooker), cumin seeds, tequila, beans, and lentiles to the slow cooker. Cook on HIGH for 10 hours. 




The Illusive Donut Banh Mi

I'm all for kooky local food mashups. DC's maturing local food scene would inevitably lead to such off-beat creations and collaborations, but this donut banh mi thing sounds like a true prize. Who cares about a cronut if you can put a vietnamese sandwich inside of an artisan donut? I've had both Astro Doughnuts (the coconut cake doughnut almost killed me tasty) and PhoWheels separately, I can scarcely imagine their powers combined! Now to find that PhoWheels truck again . . . and not gain 50 pounds once these things turn into my primary diet.