Make a Pot of Simple Chili

Let me guess. Still trapped indoors by COVID-19? Of course you are. And I bet you’re probably hungry. So it’s time to make a simple pot of chili.

Building on my post for pulled pork, here’s a quick-prep recipe for a pot of delicious chili.

You’ll need your crock pot for this one. It makes a pretty large batch.

If you’re weathering COVID-19 solo (like me), go ahead and freeze as much of the yield as you like. Looks like we’ve got at least another month of social distancing ahead.

But (ahem) before we begin, please read the following public service announcements:

Public Service Announcement #1

As everyone knows, we’re all supposed to self-quarantine. The Washington Post has provided this free story, which explains why this makes sense.

Public Service Announcement #2

Dear COVID-19,

If you’re reading this blog post, fuck you.

And now …

Break out your slow cooker. It’s time to rock some chili.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is IMG-3822-1024x768.jpg
Say yes to the crock pot. Yeeeeeesssssssss!

This recipe is simple. Total prep time comes to about 20 minutes. That’s a lot of bang for your buck.

Once you’ve got your slow cooker going, you can get right back to the typewriter.

Damon DiMarco's Typewriter Collection
A 1946, Remington Rand Deluxe Model 5. The latest addition to the Vintage Manual Typewriter Collection.

As a bonus, this recipe makes your kitchen smell better than your neighborhood Mexican restaurant.

My neighborhood Mexican restaurant smells awesome.

Unfortunately, it’s closed because of the virus.

This pot of chili is made in their honor.

Let’s Make That Chili!

Please note: I’ve compiled a complete list of ingredients at the end of this post.

1. Brown your beef.

The recipe calls for 2 pounds of ground beef. I prefer beef that’s 80% lean. The extra fat boosts the chili’s flavor.

Grab a sauce pan and put it on your range. Drizzle some oil in the bottom. Add your ground meat and start to brown it over low heat.

This can take place while you move on to other steps in the recipe. Like:

Love the smell of browning meat. Love it!

2. Crack open your tomato ingredients.

At one point, I cared very much about which brands of tomato product I put in my chili.

Not anymore.

Life’s too short.

It’s chili, folks.

Any brand should do.

For best results, I drain the diced tomatoes. It makes the chili thicker.

Go on. Get eclectic. Use different brands. It’s all good.

Go ahead and add all that to your crockpot.

While you’re at it, turn your crockpot on.

If you plan to simmer your chili all night, say 10 to 12 hours, set it to LOW.

If you want this recipe done in just a couple hours, set it to HIGH.

That’s a pot full o’ tomatoes, boyo!

3. Pour in your salt, Italian spices, and chili powder.

Go ahead and give this concoction a good stir before you:

4. Process your onions and garlic.

This is the part that hurts.

Anyone who’s read this blog knows I cry like a baby when I cut onions.

Damon DiMarco cutting onions
Me cutting onions.
Sort of like me doing my Marlon Brando imitation from the Godfather.
But with culinary panache.

Chop your onions and garlic as finely as possible while muttering, “Bonasera . . . Bonasera . . . What have I ever done to make you treat me so disrespectfully?”

Stroke the white cat while doing odd things with your lower lip.

Kidding. Get this done as quickly as possible.

Then add your garlic and onions to the crockpot.

5. Add the browned meat to your crockpot and stir.

Self-explanatory, right?

Your concoction should now look like this:

6. Put the lid on your slow cooker and go back to writing.

Apart from eating, this is my favorite step.

7. Add your beans about an hour before cooking time is up.

Or add them in the beginning and let them cook the whole time. Whatever.

Some people like firm beans. If so, wait until just before you’re finished cooking to add them.

For best results, I drain the beans. Again, it makes the chili thicker.

8. Serve with cornbread and butter.

Cornbread is easy. I still use the Jiffy cornbread mix my mom used to make when I was a kid.

Chili rocks with corn bread.

As with any crockpot recipe, this one tastes MUCH better after you’ve let it macerate in the refrigerator.

But hey. If you can’t wait and want to eat right away, have at it.

Here’s wishing you and your family health and security during these extraordinary times. Happy quarantine!

Damon DiMarco


  • 2 pounds ground beef (I prefer 80% lean; more fat = more flavor)
  • 2 large onions
  • 5 cloves of garlic
  • 1 14 oz jar of marinara or pizza sauce
  • 56 oz of diced tomatoes (canned will do just fine)
  • 1 14 oz can of white, red, or dark red kidney beans
  • Chili Powder (2 tbsp)
  • Salt (2 tsps)
  • Oregano or mixed Italian spices (2 tsps)
  • Vegetable oil (for browning the meat)
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Damon DiMarco

Damon DiMarco (born October 16, 1971), is a New York City author, actor, playwright, and historian. His oral history work has been compared to that of Studs Terkel. He was born in Princeton, New Jersey.

5 thoughts on “Make a Pot of Simple Chili

  • April 6, 2020 at 3:17 pm

    Having an Instant Pot makes it possible to do this all in one pot. I looooove my Instant Pot! Also tickled to see your choice of book next to the typewriter.

    • April 7, 2020 at 12:24 am

      Anne! I love the Instant Pot too, but it’s at my girlfriend’s place. She (ahem) got it for my birthday one year and I never saw it again. We use it constantly at her place and love it. The choice of books was natural. Still love those books with Bill. Hope this message finds you and yours well. These are extraordinary times.

  • December 3, 2020 at 12:36 pm

    I am not a good cook… But I think I could pull this off! Just have to find the Crock Pot…


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