Chili cook-off test recipe #5 – Bacon chili

It’s that time again – time to prepare for the annual chili cook-off at work! October is almost here again which makes me extremely happy. I’ve already decorated my apartment for Halloween so that’s taken care of, and now I can turn my attention to fall cooking. Usually I’d be focused on baking, especially cookies and cakes with pumpkin or apple, but this year is going to be different. I’m not saying that I won’t be making any seasonal goodies (I’m actually baking some pumpkin bread for my co-workers tonight), but I won’t be eating too many of them since I’m working on eliminating grains from my diet. I even bought gluten free soy sauce on Saturday (for some amazing cashew chicken that I’ll post another time). Yep, I’m that committed to making a change. So instead of scouring Pinterest for new and exciting pumpkin cookie recipes (although my favorite pumpkin oatmeal chocolate chip cookies are pretty much perfection), I started searching for Paleo-friendly chili recipes to try. When I saw this recipe for bacon chili I was really excited to try it. How could chili + bacon be bad? Anything with bacon in it is bound to be a hit with my co-workers, which will give me an edge during the cook-off. And the bacon chili turned out to be not just good, but great! The bacon and bacon grease made the flavor out of this world. Next time I think I’ll try adding more bacon (because why not?) and some other vegetables (carrots, at least). This is an excellent jumping off point for this year’s chili cook-off!

6 slices bacon (~1/2 lb)
1 c diced sweet onion (about 1/2 large onion)
1 c diced red bell pepper (about 1 large pepper)
1 lb ground beef (preferably grass-fed)
2 Tbsp chili powder
1/2 Tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
2 cans (14 oz each) diced tomatoes

Cut the bacon slices into 1/2 in pieces. In a large nonstick skillet, cook the bacon over medium heat. Once the bacon is cooked though, remove the bacon from the pan and set aside for later. Add the diced onions and peppers to the pan with the leftover bacon grease and cook until the onions get tender and start to brown, about 10 minutes. Add the ground beef to the pan and cook until no longer pink. Add the chili powder, cumin, coriander, garlic powder, oregano, salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper. Stir and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the reserved bacon and diced tomatoes and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cover, and cook for about an hour, stirring occasionally. Remove lid and let the chili simmer for an additional hour or so to thicken up. Enjoy!

Note: Rather than simmering on the stove, I made this in the slow cooker. However, cooking it on low for 8 hours made the vegetables way too mushy. If you’re going to finish this chili in your Crockpot, I’d either not pre-cook the onion and pepper, or just cook it on low for no more than 6 hours. Maybe less. I’ll make a few changes next time and see how it turns out.

Based on Kate’s Healthy Cupboard’s Bacon Chili (Gluten Free).