October 13, 2008 6:05 PM   Subscribe

How can I make chili like they do at Ben's Chili Bowl in DC? But with beans, too? And in a crockpot?

Ben's chili is the food of the gods. Sadly, I no longer live anywhere near Ben's, and so I want to try to make it myself. Although I'll probably be adding beans, to make it more meal-like (since I most likely won't be pouring it on hot dogs and french fries). And I want to make it in a crockpot.

I know the recipe is "top-secret," but I bet I'm not the first person to ever attempt it at home. I did find this recipe in Yahoo!Answers, but, well, we all know how reliable that site is.
posted by lunasol to Food & Drink (4 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Crock pot chili isn't hard to do, you might be best off just trying to come up with the best recipe you can and going from there. It might not taste like the stuff you want, but it will be fun to experiment.

I usually soften onions and garlic in a pan, add the meat to brown it, throwing spices on during the process. More spices as it enters the crock pot, mixing in the other ingredients. I typically opt for canned beans; while they aren't necessarily ideal they have always worked well for me. For thicker chili drain as much liquid as you can from the cans before adding them. Add tomatoes (paste, sauce, whole, diced or crushed, or any combination thereof) as you see fit. In my mind the only required spices are chili powder and cumin; anything else is worth a try if it sounds good to you. Fresh, canned or dried peppers can be used for extra heat. Put that sucker on low and let it go all day. Perfect for fall weekends - make it the night before, and either let it go on low all night or put crockpot in fridge, then take it out and turn it on high first thing Saturday morning. Chili will be ready for your Saturday football game.

As far as I'm concerned there is no real recipe for chili. If you are following something written down, it isn't really chili. The absolute best thing to do is to find a concoction you like, get as close to it a possible, then make it your own by borrowing recipe details from anyone you meet. Heck, one of my favorite add-ins came from a brief mention of a character making chili in a novel, my wife's contribution came from something she tried and liked at a chili cookoff (she didn't think anything there was better than mine, but she liked one add-on idea), and there are always friends, family, etc. to offer ideas and compare recipes. Odds are you won't be able to emulate a restaurant batch, but you might just find that your own personal concoction tastes better to you than the restaurant stuff. See, anyone at all can get Ben's Chili at the restaurant, but your personal recipe is an exclusive, invitation-only meal.
posted by caution live frogs at 6:49 AM on October 14, 2008

Caution live frogs: thanks, good tips. I have actually made chili before, but I have a yen for this particular chili, and so I'm hoping someone knows how to make a similar version. It doesn't have to be exactly the same, just similar.
posted by lunasol at 7:55 AM on October 14, 2008

I'm still in DC, and I couldn't agree with you more. I'll be staying tuned to see if you can get an answer... even for a regular Ben's recipe. The other stuff you can futz with at will.
posted by indiebass at 11:10 AM on October 14, 2008

This looks like a reasonable facsimile.
posted by EarBucket at 8:32 AM on January 10, 2009

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