Ask people how they like their chili and you’ll get a variety of answers. Mild or caliente, vegetarian or con carne, everyone has an opinion. Chili brings out our experimental side, and almost anything can be thrown into the pot; as evidenced by the many chili cook-offs occurring across the country each summer.
One such cook-off that I’ve frequented over the years is the summer chili cook-off at Saratoga Race Course in upstate New York. Come August at the Spa, it’s High Society and horses in the paddock, and folding chairs & coolers behind the grandstand. Saratoga’s 40-day summer meet is the “crème de la crème“ of thoroughbred racing, boasting a stakes race each and every day. The historic grandstand & race course has even been named one of the worlds great sporting venues by Sports Illustrated magazine.
So if you’re looking for one last day-trip to your never ending summer, set a course for upstate New York, where the horses will be running through Labor Day. Can’t get to the Spa… then try my summer chili recipe. It takes me back there everytime !
as photographed by our team, à la Carte Partners
Joe’s Slow-Cooker Chili
makes about 12 servings
1 lb. ground beef
1 lb. ground Italian sausage (hot or sweet)
1 bottle (12 oz) beer
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium-sized onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 cans (28 oz. each) crushed tomatoes
1 can (8 oz.) tomato sauce
1 can (6 oz.) tomato paste
2 tablespoons chili powder (more for spicy)
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons oregano, crushed
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper (optional)
1 package (10 oz.) frozen corn
1 package (10 oz.) frozen chopped spinach, thawed
1 can (15 oz.) red pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (15 oz.) white kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (15 oz.) black beans, rinsed and drained
- In large skillet brown ground beef and sausage; drain and spoon into Crock-Pot.
- Add remaining ingredients. Cover and cook on Low for 8 to 10 hours.
- Leftovers can be frozen.
- Any combination of beans can be used.
- Seasoning can be adjusted to your taste buds.
- To make a vegetarian version, remove the beef and sausage and add your favorite vegetables such as zucchini, carrots, yellow squash, butternut squash, bell peppers, etc.