Slow-cooker chili to break a fast

Michelle DiFranco

More than ever, there is a great need for healing in our world. So much so that Pope Francis declared 2016 as a Jubilee Year of Mercy. Our pastor recently encouraged everyone in our parish to fast and pray every Wednesday until the end of the year. The purpose is to pray for the Lord’s mercy upon our nation.

My husband and I embraced this charge. And on the first day of fasting, we didn’t just get our feet wet; we dove in. We went full-force – no food, just liquids. If the nation needs healing, we are here to fast it into shape!

It was brutal.

By late afternoon, my husband’s disposition had deteriorated to an unpredictable and volatile state, like a domesticated grizzly bear that has missed several meals.

Earlier that morning, I threw together a crockpot of chili to have ready when we returned home from Mass. Now, my husband is not a fan of slow-cooker food. He insists that the expression “that’s a crock” is an etymological derivative of the crock pot. But upon returning home from Mass after not having eaten all day, he inhaled every morsel of it.

I recognize that the purpose of fasting is not to get your spouse to accept certain foods. Fasting is a sacred and powerful exercise that can transform ourselves and the world, spiritually and otherwise. But fasting taught my husband to enjoy something that he previously would not accept. He was, indeed, changed.

Our pastor explains how fasting, combined with prayer, is a recipe for heightened, transformative meditation. When we lack what we want or need, we value it more. When we deny ourselves something and endure the discomfort of its absence, we come to appreciate it more and, most importantly, we come to love and appreciate more the God whose divine providence supplies us everything we need.

Slow-Cooker Chili

  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeds removed and chopped 
  • 1-2 jalapeno peppers, finely chopped 
  • 2 pounds lean ground beef 
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder  
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin  
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika  
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper  
  • ½ cup white wine 
  • ¼ cup Worcestershire sauce  
  • 2 beef bouillon cubes
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar  
  • 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes (undrained)
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 15-ounce can dark red kidney beans (drained)
  • 1 15-ounce can black beans (drained)
  • Additional salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • Chopped cilantro
  • Shredded cheese
  • Sour cream

In a skillet, brown and drain ground beef. Combine ground beef and all remaining ingredients in a large slow cooker. Cook on low for 6-8 hours, stirring once or twice midway (to evenly distribute dissolved boullion). Add additional salt and pepper to taste. Top off with cilantro, shredded cheese and sour cream when serving.