I’ve been craving a chili dog for months. I’m in the mood for a messy, chili and cheese oozing hot dog. When we had a family birthday party recently I thought a chili cheese hot dog bar would go over well. We could cover our dogs with whatever combo we liked. My P.S. was agreed it would be a good idea, so I decided to get to work.
The chili was easy; I adapted my own beef and lentil chili recipe. I thought having lentils in the chili instead of beans would thicken it so that it would maybe stay put in a hot dog bun better. My guess was correct; it was the perfect thickness for a chili dog. Score!
I heated my slow cooker pan on medium high heat and browned the beef, then broke it into pieces. I added the onions and peppers and sautéed it for about 5 more minutes.
My P.S. (Pantry Supplier/hubby) has a habit of picking up cans of whole tomatoes. I think he does it to annoy me. I emptied 2 cans into a bowl and used my hands to squish them apart. Yes, I ended up with tomato juice squirting all over me, the window, the wall, everywhere. The blender would have been a better idea, but I was trying to keep my dish washing down to a minimum. Instead I washed a window, a wall, and myself. Bad trade!
I added the squished tomatoes, water and seasonings to the chili pot and stirred. I brought it to a boil, then added the lentils.
I also chopped a chipotle pepper and added it to the pot along with a little of the chipotle paste. I put a lid on the pot and turned the heat to low, simmering it for 30 minutes.
I stirred the chili and taste tested it. It was great, no further salt or seasonings were necessary. I let the chili cool then refrigerated it overnight.
The next day I put the chili pot onto the slow cooker base and reheated it for our chili dogs. It had become quite dense and thick; the lentils had absorbed a great deal of the sauce. I added about a cup of water and broke it up to get the thickness I wanted for ladling over the hot dogs. I’d probably have added another cup or so if we were eating it as chili.
My P.S. had bought hot dogs that plumped as they heated and almost jumped out of the kettle we were heating them in. We set up the hot dog bar across the counter near the stove with the platter of buns. I also had a small crockpot of melted cheese as well as shredded cheese to top the chili dogs.
The chili was SO good on the hot dogs! It was just what I’d been imagining for months and months. The chili had only a slight heat due to the event being a kids’ birthday party. Kids and parents were all happy with their chili dogs.
Beef Lentil Chili
3# ground beef; 90% lean
1 medium onion; diced
2 sweet red bell peppers; diced
2 15 ounce cans tomatoes
¼ cup chili powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon cumin
1 teaspoon Mexican oregano (or regular oregano + dash of cayenne)
1 chipotle pepper; diced with 1 teaspoon paste
1 cup red lentils
2 cups water (or more to adjust consistency)
In a dutch oven or slow cooker that is stovetop ready, cook the beef over medium high heat until browned in places. Add onion and red pepper and cook another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add tomatoes, water and spices and bring to a boil. Stir in red lentils. Cover and cook over low heat for 30 minutes.
Stir and add water to adjust consistency if desired.