When the mercury dips down below -20°F up here in Alaska, I take advantage of the fact that I will spend a majority of the day feeding my woodstove. With it running hotter than normal throughout the day, it’s a perfect time to turn my plain old woodstove into a renewable crock pot.
When I mention crockpot around here my neighbors know one of two things. Either I’m making my legendary Northern Pike Chowder or I’m whipping up a batch of Woodstove Chili. Both don’t last long, even though I make it 5 quarts at a time!
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To clarify I don’t modify my woodstove at all, I just take my crockpot out of the electric base and set it onto my woodstove. It can be tricky cooking on a woodstove so you can always throw it in the base on high for a couple hours and then just keep it warm on the stove for the rest of the day.
The USDA states that all ground meat should be cooked to 160°F. This is why you brown the meat first before adding to the crock pot.
This recipe makes 5 quarts. It can be reduced in half pretty easily but chili is like most soups, it’s always better the second day. You can eat off from this batch for a few days and then freeze the remainder for a quick meal or an awesome nacho topping.
- Reynolds Kitchens Slow Cooker Liners (Regular Size)
- 2 Lbs. Ground Burger
- 2 Lbs. Frozen Mixed Veggies
- (1) small onion chopped
- (2) 28 oz. Cans of diced tomatoes
- (2) 6 oz. Cans of tomato paste
- (2) 16 oz. Cans of dark kidney beans
- (2) 16 oz. Cans of light kidney beans
- (2) 16 oz. Cans of black beans
- 1 Tbsp cumin
- 1 Tbsp chili powder (add more for more heat)
- Garlic to taste (no such thing as too much!)
- Italian Seasoning
- Montreal Steak Seasoning
- 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
- 1/2 of a Beer (can be omited)
- Optional: sliced mushrooms, pepperoni, peppers,
First Off, Wash Your Hands! Just because we live in the wilderness, doesn’t mean we’re animals.
Before you start cooking, let’s make crockpot anxiety disappear (when you love to cook in the crock but dread the soaking & scrubbing of baked on food.) Use a Reynolds Kitchens Slow Cooker Liners (Regular Size), to line your crockpot.
Start by opening all the cans and dump half of them into the crockpot.
Next sprinkle on the spices.
Now add the remainder of the canned goods and mix thoroughly.
Place the cover on the crockpot.
Pour some olive oil into a frying pan over medium-low heat.
Chop up the onion. Add to pan. If you have minced garlic add to pan if not garlic powder will do. If you have mushrooms saute them with the onion and garlic.
When fully cooked add to crockpot.
With the same hot pan brown up the burger, sprinkling with garlic and italian seasoning. Drain the meat once it is fully cooked (160°) and add it to the crockpot. If you so incline add half of a beer. Stir very very thoroughly and cover.
Even though the beans and veggies aren’t cooked yet, take a clean spoon and taste the “sauce” to make sure it has enough seasonings. Add more if necessary.
When the chili has been properly stirred and the taste is to your liking, place the cover on the crockpot. It’s time to load up the woodstove and pick up a good book.
You’ll have to keep the fire steady for at least 6 to 8 hours. This is why it is perfect for a -20°F or colder day. You’ll already be keeping the fire blazing all day.
Start by stirring the chili every 15 to 20 minutes, after two hours you can stir every 45 minutes to an hour. The longer it cooks, the better it will be.
If you are uncomfortable about cooking on a woodstove then you can cook the chili on the crockpot base on high for 2 hours then on low the rest of the day. You can also start it on the crock pot and then keep it warm and simmering on the stove.
Let this chili keep you warm through this cold spell. Stick around and the next time that the mercury drops I’ll teach you how to make my Pike Chowder. Enjoy.
Stay warm and we’ll see you a little farther down the trail!