January 27, 2021

More on Haybox Cooking: Chili

A couple months ago, I showed you my homemade haybox (thermal) cooker. As with all things, I've had to make a few tweaks to my habits, but otherwise, I'm finding it quite useful. Especially, on days when I won't be in the house to keep my eye on something. In this post, I'll show you how I used it to make chili. Chili was kinda easy because all the ingredients were cooked before it went into the cooker. But the haybox worked perfectly for that long slow simmer that melds the flavors in chili and makes it so tasty. Here's the process start to finish!

  • 1/2 pound ground beef 
  • small onion, chopped
  • half of a med. bell pepper, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely diced
  • 1 qt. canned tomatoes 
  • 1 qt canned chili beans 
  • 1 cup bone broth 
  • 1 tsp chili powder 
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp salt 
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne

Brown the ground beef and chopped veggies in a cast iron skillet.

In a saucepan, mix and heat tomatoes,
broth, beans, and seasoning to a simmer.

Add cooked meat and veggies. Simmer for 10 minutes.

Place in haybox cooker and cover to keep warm. (Two
2-inch pieces of foam board go on top of the pot lid.)

Let sit for 2 hours. No peeking!

Remove from haybox and serve.

The haybox kept it mouth-burning hot. It was really good. We got two meals out of it with enough left over for Fiesta Cornbread.

I have to admit that we rarely eat chili. Having lived in Texas for a number of years, we've come to equate the concept of chili with fire-breathing hot! Chili cook-offs are a crowd-pleaser in Texas, with each entrant trying to out-hot the others! Those of us who prefer mild heat are simply out of luck. My other turn-off for chili has been my growing-up memories of chili mac being a staple on the school lunchroom menu. It wasn't spicy, but the combination of chili and macaroni wasn't appealing, either. 

This recipe has mild heat, although obviously, that can be adjusted. For the topping, we used corn chips. We both agreed it should have a more regular spot on our winter menus. For variety, we can eat it with cornbread, or topped with tortilla chips and grated cheese.

How about you? Spicy or not? Favorite recipe? Favorite toppings?


Cederq said...

Mild chili for me and yes, beans. people that sezs that chili with meat only is not right in the head, beans make it chili, no beans, meat soup...

Chris said...

Oh yes, chilli! Stuff to eat in the cooler months. I'd break out in a sweat if I ate it now. I Do like to add cauliflower florets to mine. Chilli is such a versatile dish though, you can add whatever veg excess you have on hand.

Judy said...

I like a lot of flavor with a medium to mild heat. Yes, to the beans and tomatoes. My favorite meat in chili is venison. Venison just makes it that much richer in flavor. I also add a seeded, de-veined jalapeno instead of cayenne pepper. After the initial bowl of chili we make chili-cheese dogs or Frito chili pies. One of the add-ins on the table with chili is a salsa/pico de gallo. It seems to really finish that bowl of red.

Leigh said...

Cedreq, "meat soup," LOL. Have to agree about the beans, although I'd probably think of beanless "chili" as meat sauce. Definitively not chili!

Chris, it is extremely versatile! It's interesting that we each seem to have certain ingredients that either make it or break it. :)

Judy, nice ingredient variations! The salsa sounds like a nice touch. One of my favorite hot peppers is serrano, which I haven't grown in awhile but like the flavor of. Not quite as hot as some of the others, either.

Retired Knitter said...

I like a flavorful mild chili and lately I am partial to chili with a little ground beef but mostly beans. I know some chilis (like my husband likes) have no bean and is all meat. I have some chili in the freeze right now and when I thawed out a serving, all I could think was ... this has too much meat in it! Ha!

Toirdhealbheach Beucail said...

I have never understood the desire to make dishes as spicy hot as possible. There are some cuisines where this is part of the nature of it, but it is an outcome of the ingredients involved. A certain level of heat is nice; hot to the point it cannot be eaten is not.

Looks delicious!

wyomingheart said...

That hay cooker is certainly perfect! We do love our chili, and have it a couple of times a month... even in the summer! Spicy hot is not something that we like. I do however grow Anaheim peppers in the garden, and roast them on the grill, peel and freeze and they make a wonderful rich flavor in chili, or eggs, or gumbo... can you tell we use them a lot? Ha ! I guess it’s my Wyoming roots, but Anaheim chili peppers are very mild in heat, and roasting them brings out such a rich flavor. Anyway, got off on a tangent... I love that the hay cooker kept the chili so hot! It’s really a great addition to the sufficient shelf. Is it sunny for you this week? We are supposed to get snow tonight.

Mama Pea said...

Even though your chili is technically "cooked" by the time it goes into the hay cooker, I can see that the melding of flavors gained really makes it superb! Our chili is always made with black beans as hubby has an aversion to kidney beans (?), and a spicy kick is okay but we don't tolerate anything too hot. When I serve a big bowl of chili, I often put small bowls of shredded lettuce, chopped red onion, sliced black olives, chopped fresh tomatoes and shredded cheese on the table. We layer some of each on top of the chili which makes a salad right on top! Now I'm hungry for chili . . .

Ed said...

We make chili a couple times a winter. In fact, I just finished up the last pot this past weekend. I am always amazed when I find recipes calling for 1/4 cup of chili powder! Although I like a little kick in my chili, I can get that with 1 good sized tsp similar to what your recipe calls for. What I really love about chili is the ease to make it. I brown the hamburger, onions and garlic in the soup pot and then dump all the ingredients in and let it simmer until I remember it again and turn it off. Generally we wait an hour or so to let it cool down slightly before dishing it out and eating it. I usually put a little American type cheese in mine and top it with oyster crackers. If I have cornbread, I'll skip those and just eat it with cornbread but I don't make cornbread very often.

Leigh said...

RT, your situation sounds like mine! I like lots of beans, Dan likes lots of meat. :)

TB, we need someone who loves over-the-top spiciness in their food to comment. I like a little heat in my chili, and have learned that one can get someone accustomed to spicier foods, but for some folks it seems the have an intense tolerance to that kind of heat!

Wyomingheart, interesting about roasting the peppers. Dan loves grilling, so next summer we'll have to try that. I'm guessing it would do the same for other pepper varieties(?)

Snow? Yikes! None in our forecast. The cold air will likely arrive as the rain is pushed out.

Mama Pea, what a great idea for topping chili! Sort of a tacoless taco salad. :)

Ed, I'd forgotten about oyster crackers! Dan really likes saltine types of crackers, and would happily eat those with chili. Something about oyster crackers makes them taste better. The recipe is probably the same for both!

Goatldi said...

I am about to put myself in the doghouse. I have made chili for many years. I didn't put a lot of heat in it until after Geoffrey passed as his taste were so unpredictable.

Now I play with it. But the staples are pretty much the same ground beef or leftover beef from BBQ. Beans most certainly ( I am the black bean type) red sweet Fresno onions and garlic. After that depends on how hot I want it. Oh also sweet peppers chopped. Toppings can be anything from sour cream to corn chips and in between.

Why the doghouse? I made some mac and cheese for a supper and had left overs. I whipped up a batch of chili and you know where this is going. Yup cozied up together and it was delish. And my school kitchen didn't make Chili Mac but did turn out a wicked pizza!

Leigh said...

Goatldi, okay, chili with mac and cheese sounds acceptable, LOL. (I do love mac and cheese). I agree, black beans are the best. Sounds like you are a very creative chili maker!

Cockeyed Jo said...

Yah!! another haybox recipe!

Leigh said...

Jo, I need to use it more. If I make blog posts, they help me get into the habit!

Renee Nefe said...

I like it hot, but not stupid hot. My family likes it a bit milder which is okay by me. Here is the recipe we like...it is from the Cheyenne Frontier Days cookbook.
1 lb ground beef
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 TBS chili powder
1 TBS cumin
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 30oz can of beans (we only put in a 15oz though)
1 30oz can of tomato sauce (although I usually put in 15oz diced tomatoes with green chili or jalapeno and then 15 oz tomato sauce)

I have a recipe for Boilermaker Tailgate Chili that I haven't ever made but had when I went on my mission trip. It is very hot. I was a bit worried that the older folks wouldn't like it...Estonians didn't care for it, too hot. ;)

Renee Nefe said...

And we have chili at least once a month.. with cornbread. yum

Leigh said...

"Stupid hot." LOL Renee, I had to laugh at that. Thanks for the recipe!

Nancy In Boise said...

I've seen some insulated cookers like that as well that are not electric and plans for hayboxes. I like chili too but I usually make it with No meat and Kidney beans . Mine was to my old recently so I added some Chipotle powder and that took care of that ! I love to serve it with a little bit of green salad with buttermilk dressing And cornbread

Leigh said...

Nancy, any type of thermal cooker certainly can be useful. Your chili sounds really good. Green salad and buttermilk dressing is a favorite!

Bonnie said...

Thanks for this idea. I plan to make one. I just ordered a smaller stockpot specifically to try this. I have been experimenting with Levi on alternate cooking methods for Trail Life.
I hope you are well. I love and miss you!

Rain said...

That looks delicious Leigh! :) My chili days are over, I can't tolerate beans anymore or any spices, we don't eat meat either...not much left to put in the pot! :)

Leigh said...

Bonnie! Is that you? My Bonnie? I'm so happy to hear from you! I'm not familiar with Trail Life. Sounds like an interesting program. The haybox cooker pairs really well with campfire cooking or a rocket stove. :)

Rain, that would be a new one, beanless, meatless, spiceless chili! LOL

Bonnie said...

It is me...and happy to be yours! :-D
Trail Life is a brother, of sorts, to Boy Scouts. It isn't within the same organization, but is an alternative. They seek to honor Christ. They also honor work and skills completed within Boy Scouts, so they aren't "against" Boy Scouts. Levi is enjoying it.
I am having trouble finding a good insulation for the box...I may just use a few old sweaters and see how that works.

Leigh said...

Sounds like a really good program. I'm glad Levi is enjoying it!

If you can find old wool sweaters, the wool would offer the best insulation value. The original ones were made with straw, but not everyone has that around! It will be fun to experiment anyway. :)