If chili moved to Italy, it would become this steamy bowl of goodness.
When chili calls, I answer. I have always loved the stuff, and my chili obsession has increased dramatically since I moved to the Rocky Mountains 10 years ago – seriously, when it is below freezing, I start to crave chili. I even daydream about chili. And in one of my daydreams, I dreamt about chili translated into Italian.
The Italian sausage is the star of this dish, so make sure you get the good stuff – I like the kind my grocery store makes daily. Then, the rest are more traditional ingredients – like beans and tomatoes. But the flavors are Italian all the way.
Serve this up in bowls with Parmesan and crostini on the side. Warmth to the belly and the soul!
SLOW COOKER ITALIAN CHILI
1 pound sweet Italian sausage, casings removed (I used a low fat chicken sausage)
1 large shallot, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 cup red wine (I used Burgundy)
2 cans (15 ounces each) diced tomatoes (I used fire roasted)
2 cups vegetable stock
2 tablespoons dried Italian herbs (such as thyme,parsley or rosemary in any combination)
One Parmesan rind (approximately 2 inches by 3 inches, about 1/2 inch thick)
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 can (15 ounces) red kidney beans, drained
2 cans (15 ounces each) cannellini beans, drained
1 tablespoon Balsamic vinegar
Optional garnishes: Parmesan cheese, diced fresh parsley
Heat a large skillet to medium high heat. (NOTE: if your sausage is very low fat, add a little vegetable oil to your pan.) Add sausage and stir frequently, breaking up into small bits. Cook sausage until very well browned. Remove sausage and place in a slow cooker.
Add shallots to pan and stir and cook for about 2 minutes. Add garlic and tomato paste cook another 2 minutes or so. Pour in wine and scrape bottom of skillet to scrape up all browned bits. Pour skillet mixture into slow cooker.
Stir in to slow cooker: diced tomatoes with liquid, vegetable stock, herbs, Parmesan rind, red pepper flakes and red kidney beans. Remove about 1/2 cup of cannellini beans from one of the cans. Mash these beans well with a fork. Stir mashed beans into slow cooker.
Cover and cook for about 3 hours on low setting.
Remove cover and add in remaining cannellini beans and vinegar and taste and adjust seasonings to your taste. Turn slow cooker to high setting and cook another hour or so, stirring occasionally to remove liquid.
Serve in bowls with garnishes as desired.
A few brave bloggers have made Italian Chili: