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A&E >  Food

Dorothy Dean presents: Take the chill off with slow-cooker Mexican chili and jalapeño-cheese corn bread

Chili and cornbread are the perfect winter dinner combination (Audrey Alfaro/For The Spokesman-Review)
Chili and cornbread are the perfect winter dinner combination (Audrey Alfaro/For The Spokesman-Review)
By Audrey Alfaro For The Spokesman-Review

There are essentials needed to stay warm – and sane – during the cold, dark winter months.

While everyone’s list includes the obvious – gloves, boots, beanies, hot toddies and scarves – there’s one particular thing at the top of mine that always warms me to my core: chili.

But not just any chili, I’m talking about my Mexican-style chili.

It’s full of robust flavors, hearty bites of chorizo and beef, tender veggies and velvety beans. And it’s made in the easiest – and best – way chili can be made, in a slow cooker.

Slowly cooking chili allows all the flavors to develop and meld together, while simmering the meats and veggies to tender, tasty perfection.

Sautéed garlic and onion, along with cumin, oregano, chili powder, and paprika, coalesce to give this chili that signature Mexican taste.

To add some fresh and citrusy creaminess, it’s topped with a cilantro-lime sour cream, along with shredded cheese, fresh tomatoes and cilantro. Onions, olives and avocado are other options.

And I have the perfect accompaniment for it: jalapeño cheese cornbread.

This cheesy, spicy, sweet and moist bread is cooked in a skillet and served by the wedge.

Loaded with cheddar and pepper jack cheese, green chilies, jalapeños and spices, it complements the chili to a T. (If you’re not big on heat, just omit the jalapeños.)

For a busy weeknight meal, game-day party or potluck, my slow cooker chili has you covered. It can also be made a day or two in advance. And while it makes a pretty big portion, know it’s one of those meals that tastes even better the next day. Leftovers can be used to make chili dogs, chili mac, nachos, chili fries, taco salads or chili loaded baked potatoes.

Slow-Cooker Mexican Chili

1 pound ground beef

1 pound chorizo

3 tablespoons butter

1 onion, diced

1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced

1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 cup beer

1 (14.5-ounce) can Mexican stewed tomatoes

1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce

1 (15-ounce) can seasoned diced tomatoes, medium chili

1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 (15-ounce) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed

1 (4.5-ounce) can chopped green chilies

3 beef bouillon cubes

1 tablespoon sugar

2 teaspoons oregano

1 1/2 teaspoons cumin

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon cayenne

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

Cilantro-lime sour cream:

1 cup sour cream

Zest from 1 lime

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1/3 cup chopped cilantro

For serving:

Shredded cheese

Chopped cilantro

Lime wedges

Fresh chopped tomatoes

In a large skillet, cook ground beef and chorizo until browned. Drain fat, and add meats into slow cooker.

In same skillet used to brown the meat, add butter, onions, peppers and garlic; cook until softened. Add mixture into slow cooker, along with all of the remaining ingredients. Stir until combined. Cover and cook on low for 5 to 6 hours.

Meanwhile, make the cilantro-lime sour cream by placing all ingredients into a bowl and mixing well. Cover and chill in refrigerator until ready to serve.

When chili is done, serve hot and topped with shredded cheese, chopped cilantro, a squeeze of lime, dollop of cilantro-lime sour cream and chopped tomatoes, along with a slice of jalapeño cheese cornbread.

Jalapeño Cheese Cornbread

Adapted from

3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon butter, divided

1 cup white sugar

3 eggs

1 1/2 cup buttermilk

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 cup cornmeal

1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon chili powder

1/8 teaspoon cayenne

1 cup pepper jack cheese, shredded, divided

1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded, divided

4 ounces chopped green chilies

2-3 jalapeño peppers, seeded and finely chopped (save some slices for garnish)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease cast iron, or oven-safe skillet, with 1 tablespoon of butter and place in heating oven. Melt remaining 3/4 cup butter in a medium sauce pan over medium heat. Remove from heat and stir in sugar. Add eggs and beat until well blended. Stir in buttermilk. In a medium bowl, combine baking soda, cornmeal, flour, salt, chili powder and cayenne and add into mixture in pan. Mix until well blended and few lumps remain. Fold in 1/2 cup pepper jack cheese, 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, green chilies and chopped jalapeños. Carefully pour mixture into hot skillet in oven.

Bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Top with remaining cheese and sliced jalapeños, and broil until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

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