Chili is an RV favorite classic that works with everything from basic canned goods to savory homemade recipes. You can cook inside on the stove, in an electric crockpot or outside over a fire. The possibilities are endless and a hearty chili meal is filling and gratifying after a long day of playing outdoors. After some experimentation, any recipe can be easily customized to add or remove spice ad flavor.
Skip the Canned Chili
Canned chili is great in a pinch and is also easy to pack in an RV but homemade recipes are so much better. Keep your favorite canned chili around for solo meals and toppings for things like nachos but start from scratch if you really want something that will knock your socks off. Slow cooking chili throughout the day will surely grab the attention of your neighbors and before long, everyone in the RV park or campground will be hot after your recipe. The canned stuff is great as a backup plan as well.
Slow Cooker Recipe
Boondockers can skip this one unless a serious off-grid battery system is available. While the power consumption is not exceptional, a slow cooker will run all day, requiring a steady supply of electrical current. Boondocking is more efficient with gas stovetop and campfire recipe options that will save battery power for water pumps and accessory charging. In an RV park or camping situation with shore power, utilizing a slow cooker makes for some seriously delicious chili. Throw the ingredients together in the morning, turn on the cooker and go about your day. Come dinner time, it’ll be ready to eat.
For a simple and delicious slow cooker chili, brown a half pound or pound of ground beef, drain the fat and add to the cooker. Sautee a yellow onion and add to the cooker as well. Next, add two cans of red kidney beans, two cans of stewed tomatoes, chili powder, cumin, a dash of red pepper and cumin. Add the chili powder to taste. It helps to start light and slowly add more throughout the day until it tastes perfect. The ground beef is easily substituted with ground turkey. Cook on low for 5-8 hours and prepare your sides before serving.
Stove top Chili
The stove top is similar to the slow cooker but the chili will typically cook quicker and require more maintenance during the process. It’s a great way to cook when you don’t have all day to wait and want to get the chili going and served within a few hours of starting the process. Unlike electric slow cookers, gas stovetops should never be left alone and monitoring is necessary. Cooking on the RV stovetop is a perfect way to heat the camper during cooler weather.
Add a chopped yellow onion and 2 cloves of diced garlic to a large cooking pot. Sautee lightly in oil before adding 1 pound of ground beef or turkey. Next, add one can of dark and one can of light kidney beans along with two cans of stewed tomatoes. A few ounces of tomato paste is an option for thicker chili but it’s not necessary. Add a chopped green pepper and a whole jalapeno for spicy chili. Pull out the jalapeno pepper before serving. Cook on low for several hours and add cumin, paprika and chili powder until the flavor is right. A dash of salt and the recipe is ready to serve.
Use the same recipe for cooking over a campfire. A Dutch oven is ideal but a large cooking pot will suffice. The key to cooking over the fire is controlling the heat. Low and slow is ideal and will prevent the ingredients from burning in the pot. Either shovel the coals to direct the heat or cook on a hanger to elevate the pot to prevent burning. You can leave the pot uncovered but adding a cover or partial cover will prevent moisture escape and will help hold and distribute the heat. Stir regularly as well.
Chili is great as a standalone dish but it’s always better with sides. Fresh baked cornbread is a favorite addition to any chili feed. Mix soft butter and honey in a dish for the cornbread as well. Potato salad and coleslaw are easy additions and are also great for guest assignments at a potluck style chili feed. Throw in your favorite dessert and the meal is complete.