Monday, January 7, 2013

Best Vegetarian Chili? If Not, Still Really Yummy

Over the weekend we traveled up to Andrew's parent's house to film a family movie. His family has been making just-for-fun home movies for a long time. In the 6 years that we've been married, this will be the second movie that we've filmed. It's hard to get everyone together, come up with ideas, plan a script, do make-up and costumes, then film and edit a movie that ends up being silly and only for the immediate family's enjoyment. We decided to make a big pot of chili on Saturday during filming since it doesn't require a ton of kitchen time and because there is still snow on the ground.

CI's Best Vegetarian Chili Recipe Using Bulgar, Walnuts, and Mushrooms
A few months back Andrew made a really good vegetarian chili when I wasn't feeling well. We couldn't find/remember the recipe he used, so we decided to turn to the wonderful cooks over at America's Test Kitchen. The December 2012 issue of Cook's Illustrated magazine had a recipe titled "Best Vegetarian Chili," but it looked time and labor intensive. Eventually we might try this one, but not for the first time at a family gathering. We ended up making a different vegetarian chili by them that called for more veggies and a lot less work. After making it, Andrew's mom said that it was a lot like (and maybe even better than) her Cowboy Stew. Since I don't know what that is, I cannot compare the two, but I can tell you that this was some dang good chili.

We doubled the recipe, but didn't follow it to the letter. We used a few bottles of  diced tomatoes that were canned from the Curtis family's garden this past summer (instead of store bought ones). We didn't run them through a food processor, we liked the chunkiness. We didn't use the slow-cooker. Yeah, I know it's right there in the recipe title, but we didn't want to haul it out. Instead, we started with a large pot, sauteed the onions, garlic and seasonings in the bottom (per step number one), then kept everything in that same pot for step number two. We let everything simmer while we were out filming and it was ready by the time we were. The chili had a nice depth of flavor and just enough kick. We did serve it with avocado, sour cream, grated cheese, and tortilla chips on the side.

Slow-Cooker Vegetarian Bean Chili

adapted from The Best Make-Ahead Recipe by Cook’s Illustrated / America’s Test Kitchen
Serves 6 to 8

2 (28-ounce) cans diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 medium onions, minced
8 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 8 teaspoons)
1/4 cup chili powder
2 tablespoons ground cumin
2 (15.5-ounce) cans pinto, drained and rinsed
2 (15.5-ounce) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1-3 tablespoons minced chipotle chile in adobo sauce
4 teaspoons sugar
2 cups frozen corn, thawed
1/2 cup minced fresh cilantro leaves
Ground black pepper

1 – Pulse the tomatoes with their juice in a food processor until slightly chunky, about 5 pulses; set aside. Heat the oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat until shimmering but not smoking. Add the onions, garlic, chili powder, cumin, and 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook until the onions are softened and lightly browned, 10 to 15 minutes. Off the heat, stir in the processed tomatoes.

2 – Transfer the onion and tomato mixture to the slow cooker insert and stir in the beans, chipotles, and sugar until evenly combined. Cover and cook on low until the chili is flavorful, 7 to 8 hours.

3 – Stir in the corn and cilantro, cover, and continue to cook until the corn is heated through, about 5 minutes longer. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.

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