Rachel Ray Cowboy Chili (Our Answer for a 30-Minute Yummy Meal With Our Leftover Meats and Veggies)

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I have mentioned a number of times how we often end our week of meals with a soup, stew, stir-fry or CHILI! Why? Well, it gives me the opportunity to throw in left over veggies and protein that need to be used up and not let any food go to waste.  Plus it is so delicious!

So this next recipe is a very common meal in our home (and changes slightly depending on any leftovers or fresh veggies we have left at the end of the week). The recipe I am going to share with you is called Cowboy Chili as inspired by Rachel Ray!

First, why is it Rachel Ray Cowboy Chili? Well, many years ago (probably more than 6 years ago) I was watching 30-Minute Meals by Rachel Ray show and she shared taking leftover steak to turn it into Cowboy Chili. So I loved the idea as I was apparently just closed-minded and always just making chili with beans only or ground beef.   For her cowboy chili, she actually puts in bacon, potatoes and a can/bottle of beer and then beans and the usual suspects.  I mostly turn our leftover pot roasts with the potatoes into Cowboy Chili.  But honestly, I now call it Cowboy Chili if it includes any leftover proteins or veggies at all – which means it is pretty different each time :) I also rely on the juices in the cans already as I do not drain any of the juices from the beans, tomatoes and corn and it makes for a perfect thickness.  But you can use beer or water to add more liquid as needed just like Rachel Ray.

However, I am going to share my version of the basic recipe and then if you have leftover veggies or multiple proteins (like leftover pork chops and roast) you can throw it all in there!

Also, I find this to be a very quick meal too if you use canned beans – like literally less than 30 minutes.  If you can plan ahead and soak your hard beans overnight, then you can do that too!

Finally,  I often have more than 1.5 cups of leftover meat that need to be used.  So I just double, triple, quadruple the recipe as needed based on what I have left over and then freeze the rest! It freezes and defrosts well! I love to cook once but have a few meals made in the process :)

In the picture, you will notice the yummy looking cornbread.  This is my secret recipe, but I will share it with you in the next day or two as it is the most delicious addition to this one-dish meal!

Please note: if you are reading this recipe in our email newsletter or your RSS feed and you do not see the recipe, click HERE to be taken to it!

Cowboy Chili as Inspired by Rachel Ray
Recipe type: Main Course
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 6
A very yummy way to use up leftover protein and veggies that need to be used!
Basic Ingredients: (change the amounts if you have more leftover protein - this item freezes well!)
  • 1.5 cups of leftover meat (steak, pot roast, pork, chicken, turkey, etc.)
  • ½ medium onion
  • 1 Can Pinto Beans
  • 1 Can of Kidney Beans
  • 1 Can of Black Beans
  • 1 Can of Corn
  • 1 Can of Tomatoes
  • 4 tsp. of chili powder
  • 1 tsp. of cayenne pepper
  • ½ tsp. of turmeric
  • 2 fresh garlic cloves or ½ TBSP. minced garlic
  • Dashes of Black Pepper and Salt to taste
Optional Ingredients and enhancers:
  • Most any leftover cooked veggies - our favorites are celery, carrots, potatoes, zucchini, green/red peppers, hot peppers
  • Most any fresh veggies needing to be used up (if you use fresh tomatoes, omit the canned tomatoes)
  • Additional proteins - combining meats is also very yummy. Bacon is a good add-in too.
  1. Throw your leftover meat into the bottom of your empty stock pot and sear it to where it is blackened. Often, you do not need to add any oils or butter, but the fats on the meat already would naturally take care of this. If you have a very lean meat, you can consider using a dash of olive oil.
  2. Add in the onion in diced pieces and sear with the meat until it too is soft and blackened.
  3. Add the garlic and cook for another few minutes.
  4. Then add all of the other ingredients (fresh, canned and spices) mix well and bring to a boil. Please note, do not drain the liquids from the canned items.
  5. If it is too thick, you can add beer or water to reach desired thickness.
  6. Boil for a few minutes and then drop the temperature to low and simmer for 20 minutes.
  7. Serve warm topped with fresh onions/garlic or even a dollop of sour cream and pinch of shredded cheese!
The original recipe with pictures can be found at thethriftycouple.com.

Head on over here if you would like to see the original Rachel Ray Cowboy Chili recipe.

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