You do have to do a couple of prep steps before dumping
everything in the crock pot to give it better flavor, but it's really
not hard at all! It's good, too -- even my carnivorous friends like
1. Dice all of these and fry til well browned (it's the frying that makes them flavorful)...
-- 16 oz mushrooms
-- 1 onion
-- several chilies, seeds removed (use whatever chilies you like -- I
use one each of: serrano, jalapeno, poblano, bell, and anaheim)
-- miscellaneous other veggies (I shred in carrot and zucchini,
personally. you could also put in corn, but I'd do that at the end of
the cooking time instead of now)
2. At the end of the frying time, toss in 6 finely diced cloves of garlic and cook til fragrant.
3. Toss into the crock pot and stir to mix:
-- the fried veggies
-- two 14-oz cans of petite dice tomatoes, including liquid
-- a can each of black, pinto, and kidney beans (or any combo thereof) rinsed and drained
-- a few tablespoonfuls of chili powder and about a tablespoon of
ground cumin (you might need more -- taste the chili after stirring it
in to be sure it's flavorful enough). if you're just being healthy and
don't mind a little meatiness, toss in a couple of buillion cubes for
even more flavor.
-- 1/2 teaspoon of unsweetened cocoa powder or dark chocolate (yes, really! it helps make the flavor a little more complex)
-- about 6 oz beer or veggie stock
4. Cook on low for 2-8 hours. Since there's no meat to tenderize,
you're really just blending the flavors. For the last 30-60 minutes,
depending on how thick it is and how thick you want it, uncover the
crock pot and turn the heat to high. Just before serving, season with
salt, pepper, and cayenne to taste. If it still tastes flat or too
bland, start experimenting -- flavors that work well include chili
powder, cumin, worstershire, lemon/lime, whiskey, oregano, tomato
sauce, etc. Just toss stuff in there and see how it tastes!
FWIW, my meaty version of this is identical, except that I swap out the
mushrooms for 2lbs cubed beef. Both are really good, if I do say so