(Vegaint Chili Sin Carne, prepared 4.17.2014)
Chili. Con. Carne. Three innocuous little words that, when combined, can have tongues a waggin’ and salivatin’ as quick as you can say “cornbread”! I’m a huge fan myself, been eating it for over 50 years. My grandmother and mom made some bodacious chili in their day. I have had some pretty good vegetarian chili, but it lacked the consistency of its carnivorous cousin, leading me to say “yes, but where’s the BEEF???”
Nowadays, since I’m through with animal foods of any kind, it became quite a challenge to concoct a vegan chili recipe that had the consistency and appearance of having prodigious amounts of ground meat, and also is healthy as h-e-double toothpicks. After several months and iterations, I present to you my recipe for some pretty damn skippy Chili “Sin” Carne that will satisfy the hungriest appetite, and fool carnivores into thinking there is meat in that thar pot…this yields about 7.5 quarts…
3 – 28 oz cans diced organic tomatoes (I use fire roasted for flavor, but you can save a bit using regular)
3 – regular cans organic red kidney beans, drained
2 – regular cans organic black beans, drained
2 – large sweet onions, diced fine, by hand or in a processor
3 – large bell peppers, one each of red, yellow and green, diced fine by hand or in processor
8 – cloves garlic, chopped fine
4 – large stalks celery, chopped fine
2 – rounded tablespoons cumin
1 – tablespoon coriander
2 – rounded tablespoons chili powder
1 – rounded tablespoon red pepper flakes
1 – tablespoon coarse sea salt
2 – tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 bar dark chocolate, 80 – 85% cacao
1 – lb block of firm tofu, frozen, then fully thawed, but not to room temperature
What To Do, What To Do…
I use an 8 quart slow cooker (Kitchenaid, if you must know…), but you can use a large enameled cast iron pot as well…works great….
1. In a large enameled cast iron frying pan (if you are using a slow cooker) or pot at least 8 quarts in size, heat EVOO for 3 minutes over medium heat.
2. Add diced onions and saute for 10 minutes, turning down heat to low, and stirring occasionally.
2a.. While onions are cooking, place all beans and tomatoes into slow cooker and turn onto “High” setting (omit step if using cast iron pot)
3. Add diced bell peppers, celery, garlic and red pepper flakes to the onions. Stir and saute for an additional 10 minutes at same heat.
4a. Add sauteed onions, peppers, celery and garlic to slow cooker containing beans and tomatoes, if using a slow cooker.
4b. Add beans and tomatoes to cast iron pot if not using a slow cooker. as soon as mixture just starts to boil, turn heat down so there is a gentle boil in center.
5. Add cumin, coriander, sea salt and chili pepper. Stir well.
6. Open thawed tofu block. Wrap in cheesecloth or juicing cloth. Press tofu using juice press if you have one. Alternatively, you can use 2 metal pie pans. The point is to get as much of the moisture out as possible. One done, rehydrate under gentle cool water and repeat the process. I generally do this 4 times to remove the soy smell and taste.
7. Crumble half of the pressed, dry tofu over the pot or slow cooker, so that it resembles crumbled ground beef in consistency. Stir in well. Repeat with the second half.
8. Add chocolate, broken into pieces and let melt. Stir thoroughly after 5 minutes.
9. Simmer chili for 2.5 – 3 hours over gentle heat – low setting should be perfect. Tase periodically and adjust seasonings as you wish.
10. Serve in large bowls as is, or garnish with some cooked brown rice, fresh diced tomatoes, fresh avocado and a dollop of cashew cheese.
P.S. This recipe gets better with age. Additionally, you can make it last longer by adding another can of tomatoes and beans a couple days later. Just adjust the seasonings and you are good to go! As for the purists out there, yes, dried beans cooked from scratch are cheaper and less processed. Until our kitchen remodel is complete, and I purchase a proper pressure cooker, I’ll continue using canned beans…