Hello fall! Although I will always miss those heated days, it is time to sit down, cozy on up with your favorite blanket and dive into some warming meals.
No no, we are not discussing pumpkin spiced foods today, we are looking into something more chil-i.
A friend of my recently decided to start eating a plant based diet. While enjoying the way he feels and exploring new foods that he would have avoided in his carnivore days, he doesn’t feel vegans have mastered the art of chili. From his experience the vegan community has nailed many interpreted dishes. Veggie burgers are layered with texture, flavor and a fattiness that is present in beef patties. Vegan pastry and cakes are now just as indulgent as their buttered-up counterparts. Even vegan barbecue has made strides in locking in the slow-cooked and smoked flavor.
But vegan chili has remained bland and uninspired. Sticking to the basics of veg and beans, vegan chili has become no more than a vegetable soup. Nothing of the hearty, stick-to-your-bones, fuel that chili was initially intended to do.
After this discussion, my friend challenged me to the ultimate chili cook off… to create 4 flavor packed, indulgent and mouth-watering chilies that even a cowboy would approve of.
As I began to wrap my brain around the task I realized I actually haven’t made many chilis (meat or vegetarian) and certainly not one beyond canned beans and diced squash swimming in canned tomatoes. So I went to the drawing board to research what makes a great chili and the traditional variations of chili in the United States. Don’t worry, I will just summarize what I found…
TOP 5 CHILI REQUIREMENTS:
1. Rich dynamic flavor. A chili needs to incorporate sweet, bitter, spicy flavors rounded out with a fresh element.
2. Your traditional “beefy flavor,” which for vegan purposes we are going to attribute to umami.
3. Luscious beans, that add a creamy element to the chili without breaking apart.
4. Traditionally, a deep red sauce.
5. The chilies. No use for “chili powder” here. Unique, homemade blends of dried and roasted chilies are needed to achieve the perfect chili base that adds heat and depth of flavor.
5 TRADITIONAL CHILIS:
1. Chili Verde – a base of fresh peppers and tomatillos paired with white beans and shredded chicken or pork.
2. Texas Chili – deep red sauce with hearty pieces of red meat. NO beans and vegetables are best unseen.
3. Rocky Mountain Chili- deep red sauce with notes of chocolate and coffee, packed with meat and beans.
4. Cincinnati Chili- ground beef in a tomato based sauce, mixed with beans atop a bed of spaghetti. Always found loaded up with diced onion, cheddar cheese, sour cream and oyster crackers.
5. Vegetarian Chili- red tomato based sauce, various mixture of beans and large diced vegetables.
To boil it down, I am on a mission to recreate 4 traditional chilis into delicious vegan versions that can stand on their own. Every Monday for the month of October we are going to “chili out” as I post photos and recipes for the 4 variations.
First up, we have a Chili Verde with Jackfruit and White Beans. This classily lighter chili, packs a punch of fresh chilies paired with hearty pieces of jackfruit and beans to achieve a meaty mouth feel.
Let me know what you think!
Jackfruit + Cannellini Bean Chili
Yields 10 - 12 servings
4 poblano peppers
2- 3 jalapenos, depending on heat levels
4 cloves of garlic
3 cups white onion, about 1 ½ onions small diced
3 cups celery, ½ head of celery small diced
1 ½ cups carrots, 4 carrots small diced
1 green pepper, medium diced
2 cans Green Jackfruit
2 cans cannellini beans
1 tbsp ground cumin
½ tsp dried oregano
Tbsp yellow miso
7 cups of Vegetable Stock (recipe below)
Unsweetened coconut yogurt
Toasted pumpkin seeds
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Toss poblano peppers, garlic, tomatillos and jalapenos with olive oil and salt. Depending on your desired heat level, remove the seeds from the jalapeno before roasting. Place vegetables on sheet trays and roast for 20-25 minutes until soft and slightly charred.
While the peppers and tomatillos are roasting, small dice onions, celery and carrots. In a large soup pot, heat 3 tbsp olive oil. Add diced vegetables and a heavy pinch of salt. Allow vegetables to sweat until translucent and tender, about 10-15 minutes.
Add diced green pepper, ground cumin, oregano and miso allowing it to cook for another 5 minutes until cumin is fragrant. * If using store bought stock use 2 tbsp miso. Reduce heat to avoid burning.
Remove peppers and tomatillos from the oven. Remove stem and seeds from poblano peppers and jalapenos (if you have not already done so). Blend ingredients together, in a bowl using an immersion blender or blender.
Add the tomatillo paste to the sautéed vegetables and 6 ½ cups of stock, stirring to incorporate. Keep heat low as you prepare the jackfruit and beans.
De- can and rinse jackfruit. Pull the jackfruit apart into ½ inch pieces, it should resemble pulled chicken. Toss in olive oil, salt, 1 tsp cumin and 1 tsp chili powder. Transfer to a sheet tray and roast at 400 degrees for 10-15 minutes. The jackfruit should have some browned edges and should feel dry.
De-can and rinse off the cannellini beans and toss into the chili base. Add all of the roasted jackfruit to the base. Bring mixture up to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Season to taste.
Allow to simmer for at least 20 minutes, and serve. Garnish with toasted pumpkin seeds, coconut yogurt, lime and avocado.
This chili can be made ahead and stored up to 4-5 days in the fridge, or portioned and frozen for up to 4 months.
Adapted from Bon Appetit’s Vegan Umami Broth
4 tbsp yellow miso
2 yellow onions, peeled and rough chopped
½ head celery, rough chopped
4 carrots, rough chopped
2 cups dried shitake mushrooms
½ bunch parsley
1/2 head of garlic
3 tbsp Olive oil
¼ cup tamari
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a small bowl whisk olive oil and miso together to be a thick paste. Add a splash of water to thin so that it is thick but pliable.
Combine all prepped vegetables in a bowl tossing with the miso paste to coat. Transfer to a sheet tray and laying everything evenly in one layer, you may need two trays.
Allow to roast at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes. Stirring occasionally to avoid burning. You want your vegetables to be browned, tender and fragrant.
In a large soup pot, place all of the roasted vegetables. Add in a ½ bunch of parsley and a ¼ cup tamari. Cover with 8-10 cups of water.
Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, uncovered. Allow broth to simmer for 1 hour.
Strain broth through a fine mesh strainer into a large bowl or pot. Discard vegetable solids. Store liquid for 3-4 days in the fridge or freeze for 3-4 months.