Crew’s Mess: Crockpot Chili Con Carne

Jul 13, 2019 by Capt. John Wampler

Crew’s Mess: by Capt. John Wampler

If there is one recipe that every crew should have in the book, it’s what 17th century Spanish priests in the New World called “the soup of the devil.” There really is nothing better for a hungry soul than a steaming bowl of “Texas Red.” 

It was no accident that chili claimed a special place in the belly of America. What began as a no-nonsense dish on the wild frontier has evolved into a staple dish for many Americans. The wide appeal of chili con carne is impressive – from tailgate parties to county fairs and national chili cook-offs. It is also the official food of Texas, the Lone Star State. 

I have often stated that if there is one cooking appliance that every yacht should have aboard, it is a crockpot. The recipe below costs less than $12. Prep time is about 30 minutes. Once everything is in the slow cooker, just set it in a sink and go about the daily chores of the boat, with dinner ready at the end of the work day. Also, with proper canning procedures, it can be kept for months unrefrigerated. 


  • 2 pounds lean ground sirloin (90%/10%)
  • 4 medium-size Vidalia sweet onion, chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 large jalapeno, seeded and chopped
  • 6-ounce can tomato paste
  • Two 14.5-ounce cans diced tomatoes, drained
  • 15-ounce can unsalted pinto beans, drained
  • 15-ounce can unsalted kidney beans, drained
  • 7-ounce can salsa verde
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 bottle brown ale
  • Green onion, cilantro and cheddar cheese for garnish


  • In a large skillet, brown the ground sirloin and drain. Do not break up the ground beef too much – allow for big chunks of ground sirloin.
  • Transfer beef to crockpot. 
  • In the same skillet, saute onions and bell pepper for 8 minutes. Add garlic and saute an additional minute.
  • Stir in tomato paste for 1 minute, then stir in the beer (I used Kentucky Bourbon Ale) and cook for another minute.
  • Transfer the contents of the skillet to the crockpot.
  • Add the beans, chili powder and paprika.
  • Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours.

Serve on a bed of white rice, with a side of cornbread. Enjoy.

Capt. John Wampler ( has worked on yachts for more than 30 years. His recipes are casual enough for anyone to prepare. Comments are welcome below.