Did you know you can start to cook your chilli con carne in the slow cooker even if you’ve not got all the ingredients? Sometimes I’ve got half the ingredients, so will get it started – picking up the rest of the ingredients later in the day to finish it off.
The magic of using a slow cooker is …. it’s slow cooking, so you can add extras in later when you get them!
Yesterday I’d taken 500 grams of beef mince from the freezer to defrost in the fridge, so that needed to be cooked – and I had a jar of chilli con carne sauce and I had a tin of red kidney beans …. but nothing else! So I put them into the slow cooker anyway, on high for one hour, then turned down the slow cooker to low.
A bit later I discovered a little frozen sweetcorn in the freezer, so I defrosted that in a mug of boiling water, then drained that off and added the sweetcorn to the chilli.
What About the Other Ingredients?
With a slow cooker I had many hours before it had finished cooking, so a few hours later I popped into the shop and bought the carrots and onions I wanted! I couldn’t put these ingredients into the slow cooker raw because there wasn’t the time to cook them. Instead, I used the microwave oven to cook the onion and to steam the carrots. I then mashed the carrots with a fork and added the onions and carrots to the slow cooker in the final hour of cooking!
You can add ingredients along the way when you’re cooking in a slow cooker – but it’s always best to at least get them hot and add them hot, so you don’t reduce the cooking temperature of what’s cooking in the slow cooker! I’ll often do this as I discover an ingredient I wish I’d used about 1-2 hours after I’ve started cooking.
- 500 grams beef mince
- 1 jar of Tesco Everyday Essentials chilli con carne sauce
- 1 tin of red kidney beans, drained
- 250 grams carrots, cooked/mashed
- 2 medium onions, sliced
- 2-3 tablespoons of frozen sweetcorn, defrosted
- Cut the mince up and put it into the slow cooker – I tend to use a knife to cut the pack into about 20 cubes as I do like chunky lumps of mince in my chilli.
- Add the jar of chilli con carne sauce and the drained tin of red kidney beans.
- Add anything else you are tossing into the pot if you’re using up random odds and ends.
- Put the slow cooker on high power for 1 hour, then turn it down to low and cook for about 5-6 hours.
- Slice the onions, spray with oil and microwave in a microwave safe dish in 2 minute blasts until they are as cooked as you wish them to be. Add to the slow cooker. You can get the onions as crispy or soft as you like: Microwave Onions Recipe.
- Peel, top and tail the carrots and place in a covered dish in the microwave with a little water. Microwave on full power for 5-6 minutes until they’re soft enough to mash with a fork. Mash them and add to the slow cooker.
- Stir the onions and carrots in and continue to cook the beef chilli con carne for a further 30-60 minutes.
Menu Cost £2.50
This chilli cost me £2.50 to make and it serves 3-4 portions. The jar of sauce was actually gifted to me, but I’ve included the 55p cost of a similar jar of sauce. The beef was a 500g pack of Ashfield Farm beef mince (20% fat) from Lidl that I bought just before Xmas and had frozen, when I bought it it would have cost about £1.50, but this pack had a 30% off sticker on it. The onions were two from a 1Kg bag of 14, so they cost about 8p, the carrots were half of a 26p 500 gram bag of carrots. A tin of red kidney beans costs 30p. So £1.50 + 55p +30p + 8p +13p = £2.56, or 65p/portion.
What Can You Serve With Chilli?
I have a variety of side dishes I serve with chilli. Today I used up a cheese topped bread roll by toasting it. Here are some other ideas: 7 Ways to Serve Chilli con Carne, I was toying with the idea of making some potato wedges as I still have a vast pile of potatoes that need using up, but the bread roll had a higher priority to be used up.
In the main, I don’t “choose” what I serve, I choose something that needs using up.