Last weekend, I cooked chili in something that looks like a cross between a travel pillow and a cat bed. Oh, and I used apple cider as a substitute for some of the chicken broth in the chili. I know, all of it sounds weird. I promise it’ll make delicious sense in a minute. Read on to find out about my experience cooking with the WonderBag.
The WonderBag is a simple but revolutionary eco-friendly slow cooker. You just bring food to a boil on the stove (in one of your own 2 – 9 quart pots), let it simmer for just a few minutes (depending on what you’re making), then put a lid on it and tuck it into the insulated bag. The drawstring will securely cozy it up in there, and your food will slow cook for up to 12 hours. Because there’s no direct heat involved, your food will never overcook or burn (and believe me, I’ve burned more than a few pots of chili).
I packed my chili up and took it to a Michigan football tailgate. Electrical outlets are at a premium there, but my chili didn’t require one! And here’s the part where I tell you I was actually a bit surprised by how well cooking with the WonderBag worked. I guess I’m sort of skeptical by nature, but I was expecting the chili to be warm after sitting in the WonderBag for 3 hours, but maybe not hot. I nonchalantly dunked my finger into the pot and came away with a scalded finger. The chili was just as hot as when I took it off the stove, and it stayed warm for hours at the very cold, very rainy tailgate. I simply instructed people to pull the drawstring shut again after they’d served themselves.
Aside from tailgates, I can see myself cooking with the WonderBag as an everyday eco-friendly slow cooker, or to take hot dishes to dinner parties or on a road trip. I’m already planning to use it this Thanksgiving to keep at least one finished dish hot, and away from the cluttered stove.
As convenient as the WonderBag is for me, I’m definitely not the one who needs it most. I have so many luxuries when it comes to cooking a meal that many women around the world simply don’t have. Women living in poverty in third world countries can spend 4 to 6 hours a day preparing meals and tending to wood-burning fires (which are also a major source of environmental issues). That makes it impossible for many of them to take a job outside the home to help support their families. That’s why the WonderBag was created. Plus, for every one WonderBag sold in the U.S., one is donated to a family in need in Africa to help change this situation. Families who use WonderBags save up to 30% of their income otherwise spent on fuel for wood stoves!
Back to that chili that burned my finger. Nobody knew the secret ingredient was apple cider until I mentioned it, but I think the cider, along with the fall herbs, added a unique depth of flavor to a basic chicken chili. I hope you’ve been inspired to give cooking with the WonderBag (and this recipe) a try. I love the fact that every WonderBag purchase benefits women and families in other countries. You can buy your own WonderBag on Amazon, or even just donate one to a family in need. Also, be sure to connect with WonderBag on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Autumn Chicken & Apple Cider Chili
- 1-1/2 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 celery stalks, chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
- Meat from 2 roasted/rotisserie chickens
- 1 (40 ounce) can + 1 (15.5 ounce) can Great Northern beans, rinsed and drained
- 3 cups Knorr Homestyle Chicken Stock
- 2 cups apple cider
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
- Chopped apples, for garnish
- Heat oil in large stockpot over medium-high heat. Add celery, garlic, bay leaves and onion; cook 4 to 6 minutes or until vegetables begin to soften, stirring occasionally. Add cornstarch, sage and thyme; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.
- Add chicken, beans, chicken stock, cider, chili powder, salt, pepper, paprika and cayenne. Bring to a simmer; simmer 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Put a tight-fitting lid on the pot and transfer it to WonderBag* for at least 3 - 4 hours, or up to 12 hours.
- Serve chili garnished with chopped apples, if desired.
*If desired, prepare this recipe in a traditional slow cooker: Combine all ingredients except apples and cook on low 8 hours.