Can you guys believe this weekend is Labor Day weekend?! I know I can’t. We’re currently on our first family vacation of the year, down in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. We’re beaching it up this week and trying to soak up the last official week of summer as much as possible. (Side bar: special shout out to my mom and sister who are tending to our furbabies/home while we’re away!)
While I’m sure the summer vibes are not going anywhere anytime soon, Labor Day signifies the end for me. It means back to school. Perhaps we never lose that mentality, even as adults who haven’t been in school for years (more years than I care to admit)? But in reality, I’ll still be grilling a few times a week, losing my mind over juicy summer tomatoes and corn as long as I can, and wearing sundresses all through September. All while gearing up for the fall by watching copious amounts of football (accompanied by copious amounts of buffalo chicken dip), developing recipes for everything pumpkin and butternut (I already have THREE in mind to test once we’re back from our trip), and lighting an embarrassing amount of fall-scented candles from Bath & Body Works.
Maybe that’s why fall is my favorite of all the seasons? You get the best of summer and fall all at the same time. Being tan and eating a plate of pumpkin-stuffed shells is the best of all worlds, am I right? I know I am.
If you’re feeling a little down in the dumps about the changing seasons, I made you something ridiculous to help you cope this upcoming weekend. And if you’re still riding the good summer vibes (and desperately clinging to them), you’ll like this one too. There really isn’t much NOT to like about this one. Unless you’re a vegetarian. Sorry?
If you’re looking to send out summer with a bang, then you must (and I mean MUST) make these chili dogs with beer cheese. They are astoundingly delicious. And really easy to put together! They are the perfect end-of-summer party food.
I’m still resisting cooking with any indoor heat source as much as possible (despite the fact that I shared RAMEN with you last week. I know, I know), but I’m starting to crave those cozier foods of fall. So, enter one of my most under-utilized kitchen tools: the slow cooker!
This simple and straightforward beef chili recipe takes place in the slow cooker and can be made hours (or even days!) in advance. All without you needing to stand over a hot pot on the stove. The chili recipe is my tried and true recipe (I actually shared it with you guys right after Kieran was born) with a few small tweaks. It never disappoints and hits all those traditional chili flavors we have come to expect. It’s a fairly basic chili recipe that I make time and time again…because sometimes, simple really is best.
Another great reason to make this recipe for any parties you have coming up this weekend is that it feeds a crowd. The chili can serve 8-10 people, and the other ingredients are easily adjustable. The hot dogs are as easy as well…grilling up some hot dogs! There’s nothing overcomplicated about that. And the cheese sauce is pretty much foolproof.
It’s creamy, spicy, and tad tangy from the pickled jalapeños, and of course, CHEESY. It’s deliciously beer-y, too. If you’re a beer and cheese fan (and, really, who isn’t?), than this sauce is definitely for you. We had leftovers and ate it as a queso on chips. Good LORD, do I ever recommend that you do that! Make extra!
I highly recommend that you set out a toppings bar for these chili dogs. My favorites include finely diced red onion, diced dill pickles (it just works), additional pickled jalapeños, and some fresh herbs. Other options are some scallions, additional shredded cheese, or even just regular ol’ ketchup and mustard. Give people an option and they’ll come up with their perfect chili dog, all whilst giving you the credit. It’s a win-win for all involved.
The only thing that’s missing is a big, frosty glass of beer to wash these down.
Dare I say it? A PUMPKIN beer would work fabulously. I know. Don’t hate me.
For the Chili:
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- 1 lb lean ground beef
- 1 onion, diced
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons ground coriander
- 2 teaspoons onion powder
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 (28-oz) can crushed or diced tomatoes
- 2 cups beef broth
- 2 tablespoons hot sauce (or to taste)
- 2 (15-oz) cans pinto beans, drained and rinsed well
- Salt and pepper, to taste
For the Beer Cheese:
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon flour
- 1 cup beer (I used a lager)
- ½ cup half-and-half
- 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar
- 1 cup shredded jack cheese
- ½ cup drained and chopped pickled jalapeños
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 8 hot dogs (all-beef dogs are my preference)
- 8 hot dog rolls
- Finely diced red onion
- Finely diced dill pickles
- Additional chopped pickled jalapeños
- Any other condiments you desire
For the Chili:
- Heat the oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Add the beef and cook until rendered and browned.
- Add in the onion and garlic and cook until the onion is softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the spices and tomato paste and cook for an additional minute.
- Transfer the beef mixture to a slow cooker. Add in the tomatoes, broth, and hot sauce, along with 1 teaspoon each of salt and pepper.
- Cover the slow cooker and turn on HIGH for 6 hours. If possible, stir the chili from time to time (if not, no biggie!). After 6 hours, taste the mixture for seasoning and adjust as necessary. Stir in the beans and cover and cook for another 30 minutes.
- The chili can be made several days ahead of time (it tastes better the next day!). You can also make it on the stovetop.
For the Beer Cheese:
- Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and stirring constantly, cook for 1 minute.
- Slowly stream in the beer, whisking constantly. Then, stream in the milk, whisking constantly.
- Stir the mixture over medium heat until it thickens, about 3-5 minutes.
- Whisk in the cheeses and jalapeños and stir until the cheeses are melted. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper.
- Keep the cheese sauce warm until you are ready to serve.
- Grill your hot dogs to desired doneness (I like mine super well done and crispy). Place the hot dogs on warmed rolls and top with some of the chili. Drizzle the cheese sauce as liberally as you wish over top and garnish as desired. Finely chopped red onion and dill pickles are heavenly on top.