Slow Cooker Chili con Carne

Chile con Carne
Slow Cooker Chili con Carne

It is 5am but I have given up on sleep. I awoke from a nightmare at 4am, and have been up since. Writing this post seemed like the thing to do when I finally gave up on sleeping, because in the quiet it's easy to write, and because the warmth of my own kitchen was exactly the comfort I needed in that moment. It is a bit to early to eat Chili con Carne, so I'm drinking coffee as I write this instead, and it'll do. 

I knew it was a dream, because I wasn't me, and I didn't know the people I was with. Still, it was vivid. I drove down the highway, with a passenger--a man- in the seat to my right, and two people in the back. I saw it as it happened, some twenty cars ahead of me: a collision. And then before I even had time to blink an eye, the car in front of me had halted. It seemed bigger than it had before. Is that possible? Either way, the vehicle in front of us was closer to my windshield than felt possible, and even though I was already braking it was too late. I felt myself flying forward, now in slow motion, and wondered for a split second if the airbags would go off, and what they would feel like. 

I woke then, with a start. My heart racing, panic in my breath, and a scream in my throat. For a few minutes, I could still picture it perfectly, and wondered their fate. But I knew. It seemed an odd dream to me: I had no idea who the people were, and for the life of me I couldn't remember the beginning of the dream, the part that gave some context. I hardly ever remember my dreams, once a year at most. 

And there I was, back in my own room, under the covers (which were much too warm), with no sounds but the wind lapping the window and my own elevated heart rate. I rolled over and checked the time: 4am. I knew I wouldn't be able to get back to sleep, but I tried anyways. For an hour I laid there, thinking first of the dream and then letting my mind wander. It stumbled straight to this chili con carne. Perhaps it was just the growing anxiety that I needed to write this post and was procrastinating, or perhaps I was seeking comfort. The kitchen--cooking- has always been comfort to me. And what is more comforting that a steaming bowl of spicy stew? Plus, my tummy rumbled.

My mind hovered there for several minutes: guajillo chilis aren't very spicy but they have solid flavor, especially when turned into a sauce. This particular slow cooked chili con carne also calls for a tablespoon of cocoa powder--something my roommate was skeptical of- but it lends a smooth, rich note that you wouldn't otherwise get. There's no taste of chocolate, just an added richness that provides the chilis with a backdrop. 

Sauce aside this stew is simple, and exactly what it sounds like. Meat in chili sauce. You put beef chuck in your Instant Pot/Slow Cooker (affiliate link), and you add the sauce. That's it! I also like to add some red kidney beans, but this is completely optional (skip them for Paleo). And since the stew is so simple, it gives you time and room to play with toppings. Fresh cilantro, avocado, slices of lime, or minced red onion. Cheese is pretty good too (duh). 

Slow Cooker Chili con Carne
Slow Cooker Chili con Carne

Slow Cooker Chili con Carne

Published January 9, 2018 by
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Serves: 6   |    Total Time: 12.5 hrs


  • 4 dried guajillo chiles (find them in the ethnic food isle, or online here (affiliate link))
  • 3 cups broth (beef or chicken)
  • 2 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
  • 1 tablespoon ancho chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne (optional, adds spice)
  • 1 teaspoon salt 
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper 
  • 1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes 
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice 
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice 
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil 
  • 2 pounds beef chuck, cubed
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 bay leaves 
  • Optional: 1 14-ounce can red kidney beans, strained and rinsed (skip for Paleo-friendly)
  • For serving: cilantro, red onion, avocado, limes


  1. Heat a skillet over medium heat, and toast the chiles until they are fragrant. Then, carefully remove the stems and place the chiles in a blender jar along with the broth, chipotle chiles, chili powder, optional cayenne, salt, black pepper, can of tomatoes, cumin, oregano, coriander, allspice, cocoa powder, and lime juice. Blender until smooth, and set aside.
  2. Set your Instant Pot or Slow Cooker to the Sauté setting, and heat the coconut oil. Once it glistens, add the beef chuck, browning the pieces on all sides (about 3 minutes each side). Add the onion and garlic, and sauté, stirring occasionally, until fragrant. (Note: if your slow cooker does not have this setting, use a skillet on the stove over medium heat, and then transfer meat, garlic and onions to your slow cooker).
  3. Pour sauce into slow cooker over meat, and add two bay leaves. Add red kidney beans at this time if using. Stir and then secure lid on pot. Set to medium heat and cook for 12 hours.
  4. When ready to serve, garnish with cilantro, red onion, and lime wedges.


Green Chile Smother Sauce

Green Chile Smother Sauce

This green chile smother sauce was created for a good friend after we went to a Mexican restaurant and fell in love with their smother sauce. The Mexican restaurant is a little hole in the wall across the street from the DMV. You wouldn’t think much of that little restaurant if you were just driving by, but those that know it love it. The burritos come stuffed full of ingredients, making them bigger than anyone person could ever really need. And key to this story, each burrito gets coated in smother sauce.

What is smother sauce, you ask? Well, it’s a sauce, for smothering. But it can be used in a kajillion ways (I’ll share some ideas later in this post). Mostly, it’s a spicy sauce that you can pour over burritos, tacos, eggs—really anything. 

After eating at this restaurant, we realized smothered burritos didn’t have to be restaurant-only food. Why not make our own smother sauce? That’s how this happened. Introducing Green Chile Smother Sauce.

Green Chile Smother Sauce
Green Chile Smother Sauce

This green chili sauce is really similar to what you would use in my Pork Chile Verde. The difference is that this smother sauce can be used in 1,000,001 ways. It is a dip for chips when you want something zesty and tangy. It is the drizzle your eggs need in the morning. It is the sauce to smother every burrito, tamale, and taco with. Basically, it is everything. Still need ideas for how to use it? 

  • Green enchilada sauce (do you have leftover turkey still? Enchiladas are the answer)

  • Green eggs in purgatory

  • A hot sauce for your breakfast (fried eggs or omellete)

  • Serve as a salsa

  • Slow Cooker Pork Chile Verde (use this sauce in place of the tomatillo, onion, garlic blend that the recipe calls for: they are pretty much the same thing)

  • A starter for guacamole

  • A smother sauce for burritos

...just to name a few.

The secret to making the sauce is roasting the tomatillos, onion, and garlic before you blend it up. That gives it a slow cooked smoky flavor that you wouldn’t otherwise be able to achieve. It cuts some of the tartness of the tomatillos. Then all you have to do is throw it in the blender and purée it. I use this blender (affiliate link)! And then you eat it, however you damn well please. That’s it! Easy peasy. 

Green Chile Smother Sauce

Green Chile Smother Sauce

Published November 21, 2017 by
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Serves: 6   |    Total Time: 20 minutes


  • 8 medium sized tomatillos
  • 4 cloves garlic 
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 1 tablespoon avocado oil
  • 2 cans hatch green chiles (I use the hot ones, but feel free to use mild if you prefer)
  • 1/2 cup cilantro 
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • Juice of 1 lime 
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano


  1. Preheat your over to 475°F. Peel the papery outer skins from the tomatillos, wash them, and slice them in half. Cut the onion into 4 to 6 large wedges. Arrange them all on a sheet pan along with the garlic cloves. Brush with 1 tablespoon avocado oil, and place in oven. Roast until the tops of the tomatillos are browned, 10-15 minutes.
  2. Add roasted tomatillos, onions, and garlic to a blender along with canned green chiles, cilantro, lime, spices (cumin, coriander, oregano, and optional cayenne), salt, and pepper. Puree. Mixture should be similar to a less chunky salsa.
  3. Store sauce in jars until ready to use. Stays good in fridge for 1 week.


Curtido, a recipe from Latin American Paleo Cooking

Latin American Paleo Cooking: Curtido

The best tacos I've ever had were served to me at a gas station in the mountain town of Glenwood Springs, CO. Let me guess.... you thought I was going to say something like, "on the streets of Mexico City" or "at this hole in a wall restaurant in Texas, just north of the border." Nope. A gas station in Glenwood Springs, while waiting for a bus. I know, that's just not as cool. But they were $1.00 each and simple. Super simple. Just a bit of shredded chicken on a 4-inch corn tortilla topped with this Mexican cabbage slaw that added acidity, crunch and freshness. That was my first taste of Curtido, and my last--at least for some time.

Latin American Paleo Cooking: Curtido

I didn't happen across curtido again until I visited Nicaragua, and then, boy, did I eat curtido. Many people credit El Salvador with this brilliant recipe, but it's eaten all through Central America. In Nicaragua, it came with virtually every dish I ate. Finally, towards the end of my stay, I attended a cooking class where sure enough, we learned to make curtido from a well seasoned abuela. Everything was done by hand: what most of us would do in a food processor, she did with ease on a small cutting board. She sliced that cabbage with more finesse than I've ever sliced anything in my life. The result was ribbons of cabbage were the most delicate, long and beautiful pieces of cabbage I had ever seen. (Every time I slice cabbage now I think of her, and attempt to mimic her motions. I still haven't mastered the skill). 

Latin American Paleo Cooking: Curtido

When Latin American Paleo Cooking cookbook showed up at my front door, and this recipe sat within its pages, I knew I needed to make it stat. Taco night anyone?

Getting your fair share of veggies on taco night is not always easy (some days you just don't feel like taco salad). But curtido! It's the answer. When you make curtido, you put your veggies in your taco, and it's the most delicious taco you'll eat. It's the crunch, acid, and spice your taco needs. And the recipe in this cookbook is awesome... along with the rest of the recipes in there. Want to hear a few? 

  • Mofongo Relleno de Camarones - Mofongo Stuffed with Shrimp 
  • Empanadas al Horno - Baked Meat Empanadas 
  • Pupusas con Chicharrón - Pupusas stuffed with sausage (or cheese!)
  • "Arroz" con Dulce - Grain-free rice pudding 
  • The list goes on...

So, if you have been on a grain-free diet for a while (or not that long) and are seriously craving some real Latin American food, this cookbook is for you. (I can relate to your cravings... case in point: those tacos in Glenwood Springs! And enchiladas. And tamales. Don't get me started on tamales. This cookbook is totally the answer to your cravings). 

You can get it on Amazon, here

Latin American Paleo Cooking: Curtido
Latin American Paleo Cooking: Curtido

YC Media sent me this cookbook to review. Thoughts and opinions are all my own. 


Published October 17, 2017 by
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Serves: 4-6   |    Total Time: 20 minutes


  • 1 small head green cabbage, sliced very thinly or grated
  • 4 carrots, grated
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced and cut about 1" (2.5 cm) long
  • 2 fresh jalapeño peppers, diced and seeded, or 1 to 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp (12 g) fine Himalayan salt
  • 2 tsp (4 g) dried oregano
  • ½ cup (120 ml) filtered water
  • ½ cup (120 ml) apple cider vinegar


  1. In a large, nonreactive bowl, combine all the ingredients and stir well. Depending on how large your cabbage is, you may need to add a bit more vinegar and water. Place it in the fridge for 15 minutes before serving. The flavors will continue to develop as it sits. Serve a generous portion alongside Pupusas con Chicharrón o “Queso” (page 63 of the Latin American Paleo Cooking cookbook)
  2. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 to 4 days.
  3. AIP compliant: Simply omit the jalapeño peppers and substitute minced garlic.