My husband and I love chili, but we never really make it the same way twice. I started with a basic recipe for Old-Fashioned Chili and doubled it because we were taking it to serve a crowd. But instead of doubling the ground beef, I added a pound of turkey Italian sausage to give it even more flavor and texture. I used 1 can of spicy chili beans and a can of dark red kidney beans. I added about 1/4 teaspoon of ground red pepper, which is plenty of heat for me. When my husband is making the chili, he adds more. I also added about 1/4 teaspoon of cumin and topped with some shredded Mexican cheese.
Cooking chili in the slow cooker is definitely the way to go as cooking over low heat for a longer time allows all the flavors to blend and become really rich. I know I'll continue to play around with the ingredients in the quest for the perfect chili, but I'm pretty sure I'll stick to cooking it in the slow cooker. I cooked it over LOW heat for about 4 hours, but it would have been fine to cook even longer.
I"m actually a big fan of while chili, but sometimes you just need a traditional bowl of chili. This one turned out great, according to all the folks at the Fall Festival who devoured it. Let me know about some of your favorite tricks for making chili. It might be a long winter.