I have never let my schooling interfere with my education. - Mark Twain

Sunday, March 4, 2012

And the winner is...

Not me. The chili cookoff mentioned in the last post had 12 entries, 3 of them vegetarian! I was impressed. Mine didn't win (it was adapted from a recipe here), but frankly it wasn't very good that day. I did it in the crockpot overnight, but something happened to the veggie sausage during the lengthy cooking period . It almost tasted bitter (but it got burned a little on the surface, too).

Note to self: do not use veggie sausage next time, and do not crockpot overnight. Four hours on low would have been plenty.

The second and third days it was a whole different animal. About a tenfold improvement, so I think the bitter edge mellowed out with resting. But it really didn't need the sausage anyway, as I also used veggie crumbles, so here is the winning (at my house anyway) version.

I wouldn't change anything else, except for maybe a bit more chile powder next time. The last bowl had the most heat, naturally, because it infused the longest; the problem was I forgot to take a picture of ANY of the bowls. So pictured instead is my fave chile powder, ground at home from whole dried New Mexico chiles. It beats out any chile powder I have ever purchased commercially.

To make your own homemade chile powder, just break well dried chiles into small pieces and whirl in a spice grinder a little at a time. But don't stick your face in the cloud of chile dust when you open the grinder (why did I think that was a good idea?)!

Chili with Red Wine
At least 8 servings

2 Tbs. oil

2 cups diced onion
2 cups diced sweet pepper
4 large garlic cloves, minced
2 jalapenos, minced

12 oz. ground veggie crumbles

2 Tbs. chile powder (such as New Mexico; I will probably try a little more with the next batch as New Mexico chiles are not way up there on the heat scale)
1 Tbs. brown sugar
1 Tbs. cocoa powder
1 Tbs. ground cumin
1 tsp. dried oregano
½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. salt
2 bay leaves

1 (28 oz.) can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 cup Pinot Noir or similar red wine
2 (15 oz.) cans kidney beans, rinsed and drained, or mix with another good chili bean
4 Tbs. tomato paste

Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion through jalapeƱo, and cook until beginning to soften. Add veggie crumbles and heat through, stirring frequently.

Add chile powder through bay leaves and cook for a minute to coat all ingredients. Stir in tomatoes through tomato paste and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. (Alternatively, add everything to a crockpot, and cook on low for a few hours).

Uncover and simmer another 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Discard the bay leaves. Adjust seasonings to taste, and serve with toppings of choice.

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