About time I started another crock pot of the type you describe, Joe, but recently we have been using cured ham shoulder rather than beef (and we always used cubed rather than ground- easier to control the fat). And we use pure New Mexico chile powder and add cumin, oregano and garlic rather than the store-bought chili powder, which is largely filler.
We have been using tepary beans, soak overnight in the pot before the start-up. We get them from a place in Idaho, offered on the internet. The brown tepary are more expensive, but we prefer them. Order early in the year, they are often out-of-stock.
Also very good, we have a brand of canned beans here, "O", organic, no additives, and several types. We use the pintos.
Haven't tried the sausage (fat?) and rice, but I'm sure it's good.
Occasionally I made up a crock pot with chopped root vegetables in addition to the beans and ham, but my wife prefers the chile with ham and no vegetables.