Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Chili Recipe

I'm making chili today.  We're visiting David's grandparents again this weekend and in an effort to make things a little easier on them, I'm bringing chili and cinnamon rolls (Why do these things go together?  I don't know, maybe you should ask the people who designed school lunches when I was in grade school and cinnamon rolls were always the dessert on chili day.)

I like to brag about this recipe because (1) it's delicious (2) I'm not great at cooking, but I have mastered this and (3) even meat eaters like my chili.

So here is my ingredient list:

big can of tomato puree
black beans
kidney beans
chili beans (are kidney beans and chili beans the same thing?  I have no idea)
green pepper
tempeh (for those of you not in the know, tempeh is vegetarian deliciousness, pronounced "tem-pay."  It's a combination of grains and who knows what else, and it packs lots of protein.)
salsa verde
plus a SECRET INGREDIENT. (Now you're intrigued, right?  Keep reading.)

Chop your veggies.  I use a big knife, but it's not very sharp.  Because I'm clumsy and I don't want to slice off a digit while making chili.

Drain your beans.  As I'm draining beans, I always think about how I wish I had that Pampered Chef tool that fits over the tops of cans and drains them easily, but then that would be one more gadget to store in the limited space of my kitchen and I want to be one of those people who doesn't buy lots of material objects, but that's not really happening, so maybe I should just give in and buy one, and then I wonder if my old college roommate is still selling Pampered Chef, and by the time I get done thinking about all that, the beans are drained and I promptly forget about the can-draining gadget until the next time I'm opening a can of beans.

Get out your big ol' chili pot and put the burner heat on medium.  Sautee the onion and garlic in a little bit of oil until they're nice and fragrant and the onions are translucent.

Add your peppers and carrots to the pot to soften them up a bit.  At this point, I always mentally pat myself on the back because my chili has vegetables in it and is therefore very healthy, which is why it's totally fine to bury it under a pile of cheese and Fritos before eating.

Also at this point, I usually remember to turn on some music.  For making chili, I really like Jeff Buckley and also old Tim McGraw.  Something homey and nostalgic.

While your veggies are softening, chop up your block of tempeh.  You can also use Boca or Morningstar soy crumbles, but I prefer the tempeh.  It just feels less processed or something.

You want your tempeh to crumble up, kind of like ground beef, except BETTER, and a cow doesn't have to die for this pot of chili.  Win-win!  Add your tempeh to the pot, stir it all around, and then add whatever chili powder floats your boat.

I really like Penzey's spices and I live near a Penzey's, so I usually stock up.  But I have not yet replenished my chili spices from last fall!  So I'm going old school with my favorite grocery store brand of chili powder:  Williams.

Williams was the last name of my great-grandparents, so as I sprinkle it in, I pretend it's an old family recipe.  Is that weird?

The tempeh will take on the flavor of whatever it's hanging out with in the pot, so now you have a delicious mixture of onion, garlic, pepper, carrot, and chili seasoning, and the texture is somewhat close to ground beef.  At least, from what I remember.  I haven't eaten ground beef in ten years, so my memory could be fuzzy.  At any rate, tempeh doesn't have the "tofu texture" that David complains about, so he likes it.

Time for your beans.  Dump 'em in.  Sometimes I only use two cans of beans, but this time I am feeling crazy! Also I originally got this recipe from my friend Natalie, and she says that every cook makes a chili recipe his or her own.  So here I am, personalizing it.

It's looking pretty chunky now, and so healthy and full of veggies!  So it's time to add the tomato puree.

I also stir in some salsa verde.  Except my neighborhood grocery store didn't have salsa verde in stock.  What the what?  We live a block away from "The Hill," which is the Italian section of St. Louis, meaning that it's a neighborhood of Italian restaurants and Italian grocery stores and Catholic churches.  Evidently even the chain grocery store has been influence, so Mexican food gets the short shift.  If I go the opposite direction, there is an adorable little Mexican grocery store within walking distance of my house, but it's raining today.  So we're going with this green taco sauce!  Because it's green!  Verde!  And it has roughly the same ingredients--green chilies.  And Natalie gave me permission to improvise!

Dump in about half of whatever green Mexican sauce you have on hand and stir.  One time I made this with real salsa verde that my uncle in Arizona had made himself from super hot peppers he'd grown in the desert.  It was so spicy and delicious!

Then it's time for the SECRET INGREDIENT!!!!

That's right.  A bottle of beer.  The darker the better, but any kind will do.  I'm using Dunkelweizen, an Amber beer from Trader Joe's.  If you have the option, adding one at room temperature is the best idea, but I've popped the top straight out of the fridge and it's fine.  Just fizzes a little more.

Pour it in.

Watch the chili foam!  And froth!  And smell delicious!

Stir it all up really good.  Crank up the heat and bring it all to a rolling boil.  Let it boil for a minute or two, then take the heat way down.

Now the hard/easy part.  Let it simmer for as long as you can.  Let it infuse your home with delicious chili smell.  I try to let it simmer for two hours.  Why?  Because I like my chili to be delicious, that's why.  It also gets thick (soupy chili = gag) and all the flavors mix perfectly.

It's best to let it simmer uncovered, but that's totally impractical because it sputters and bubbles and makes a big chili mess.  So I put the lid almost all the way on, allowing space for the steam to escape.  I also stir it occasionally.  Like whenever I walk by the kitchen, or during a commercial break, or in between student essays, or at the end of a chapter, or at that point when you realize you've been staring at Pinterest so long that you've forgotten to blink and you need to step away from the laptop.

Once it's simmered to your preference, it's ready to go.  Ladle it into cute bowls and serve with extra sharp cheddar cheese grated on top to make it extra good.  I also like to serve it with beer bread (because it's a THEME!) but it's great with Fritos, tortilla chips, or Saltines.


OK, now here's the short version of the recipe without my commentary.  It occurs to me that my commentary is probably not as cute as the Pioneer Woman's and that's why she's written a famous cookbook and I have not.  Or maybe it's that this is really my only successful recipe and a one-recipe cookbook does not a cookbook make...

chili seasoning
chili beans and/or kidney beans
black beans
tomato puree
salsa verde

Chop veggies and drain beans.

Sautee onions and garlic until softened.

Add carrots and peppers, stir until softened.

Chop tempeh and add to veggie mixture.  Stir in chili seasoning.

Add beans.  Stir.

Add tomato puree.  Stir.

Add half a jar of salsa verde.  Stir.

Add the SECRET INGREDIENT - a bottle of beer.

Stir well. Increase heat and bring to boil for 1-2 minutes.

Turn heat down to super low.  Let simmer, not fully covered, for 1-2 hours.  Stir occasionally.

Serve with bread, chips, or crackers, and grated cheese.



    I've been a vegetarian for 21 years (!) and I've never had tempeh. Ever. I know. I actually have quite a bit against Boca and processed soy protein products, so I usually just make my chili with lots of veggies, tomatoes, and beans. I would totally try yours though. I actually boycott all restaurants that force the Boca upon me. It's too chewy and I don't like the texture or look of ground meats, hence the reason I don't eat it! Though I know that some veggies (like yourself?) are strictly in it for the animal treatment reasoning. To that I respect, but mine is more a health/appeal issue. And also I was traumatized as a child.

    I will 100%, absolutely be trying the beer. Darker the better is usually my motto for drinking as well. ;)

    Kidney beans are not pinto beans. Kidney are red and long while pinto (aka chili beans) are the cheap bean they use to make refried beans but instead they throw in some seasoning to flavor them. I use black beans in mine almost always because (for some reason) I feel like they have more protein and are healthier. Probably a complete crock of crap. I think it's also fun to have color. Love chili recipes because they're always so different.

    p.s. Do you make the beer bread, too? Because man, it MIGHT be worth a drive to STL. Maybe. That drive is so freaking boring. :)

  2. Looks yummy!! I love chili and wish it would get cold in Texas so I could make a big pot soon!

    I have a friend from college who always insisted we make cinnamon rolls with chili because that's what her family always did. So we had that as our dessert after the chili- pretty good!

  3. Do you own those cute bowls? I've never noticed them at your house before.

  4. Don't want you to be jealous, but I just ordered from Pampered Chef today. ;) ha.

    I vote you write a cookbook. I could buy it and say things like, "oh this? I know the author/chef! And I've tried every recipe (aka the only one!)."

    Looks yummy Brooke!

  5. I read the comment by another Caroline and thought "wait a minute - I didn't write that. I've never been to her house" . . . I'm special.

    But this sounds great and I want to try it. How long does it take to make? Where does one find tempeh?

  6. Yummers!!!! I must try this! I love veggie chili and also have a good recipe. You just started a craving that I may have to feed this weekend. :)

  7. Definitely going to try it very soon. I might force myself to wait until our first cold Saturday because being home all day with a simmering pot of chili and football on TV when it's cold outside sounds heavenly. But I don't know if I can wait that long because I'm really curious about the tempeh!

    If you send me your address I'll mail you some salsa verde. As you might imagine, it's very easy to find here! Our store brand is delicious.

  8. Yum!! I am also going to make that chili-- sounds way better than my usual recipe!

  9. This looks fantastic, it sounds super good. Also? LOVED the commentary. :))

  10. Hi Brooke~ Thanks for the recipe. I have been a vegetarian for 16 years. I have a really great chili recipe too but it has no tempeh or soy product in it. Meat eaters love it too! I will eat fake meat but am pretty picky about it. I like tempeh personally especially on sandwiches. I will have to try your recipe. :)

  11. ok my capcha is seneor - close enough to spanish to make me giggle :)
    i just shared this recipe with a vegan friend on twitter. speaking of twitter, come and join us! plenty of blms and fun. much better than the FB.
    @LeLeIsMe if you decide.