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  1. #1
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    Alternative Chili

    This Super Bowl we, like many, will be having a few guests over. Wings, buffalo sauce, pizza, and ribs will all make an appearance. But not all of our guests are as meat positive. For them, I was going to do a chili. That's right, a vegetarian chili, already a-traditional in the realm of chili aficianados. But here's the thing, I'd like to skip the beans in favor of lentil and hominy. Maybe some farro as well. I've done a test run that turned out tasty, but not quite what I was going for. I'm already caramelizing the tomatoes, and using a nice roasted veg stock. Chipotles and home ground chili powder (predominantly ancho, but some others in there as well.) But it needs more depth. I'm thinking some beer in there, but I'm not entirely sure. Unfortunately, I don't have time to run another test batch, so this next one is the one that gets served, meaning I need to get it right.

    Any ideas guys? And don't "add beef". I agree with you, but it's gotta stay ... well ... vegan.

    Thanks!
    Ben


    P.S. I'm well aware of how heated chili conversations can become. I count a good number of Texans among my friends, and have had to listen to them talk at length about the virtues, and indeed, exclusivity of Texas Red, going so far as to claim it as the one true chili. So to be clear, I'm not trying to open up any of those cans of worms! I just need some help. I'm not trying to re-define the word chili.

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    Senior Member DeepCSweede's Avatar
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    Not sure if you are having a texture issue or flavor issue - but I believe a good darker beer would help (scotch ale maybe or a darker mexican beer)
    Masa Harina may thicken it without adding the hominy's texture. Another thought would be to use some grilled / chopped up portabella's to add a somewhat meaty level to the dish.
    Definitely use the lentils. Costco has a lentil mix that is very chili-ish that I like occasionally for a quick snack.

    Good Luck on your challenge.

    Eric

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    Thanks Eric! No, it's definitely the flavor. The first batch I made had great meaty feel to it from the hominy and lentil. The flavor profile was a bit... I don't know. Just lacking somehow. Not deep enough. The spice was nice, the seasoning was nice ... it was all around pretty dang tasty, but not what it could be. My gut is telling me to add a nice dark beer as well. But I do like the idea of charred portabellas. I'm also thinking of subbing out the masa as thickener (planned to do this with the first batch, but ended up being out and made a quick dark roux [but with canola... eww]) for either ground nuts or sesame seed... Maybe a bit of chocolate in there as well...

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    Senior Member DeepCSweede's Avatar
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    You may also consider using some Sazon Goya Seasoning Salt in it - I haven't ever used it personally but it has come up in conversation with a few people that I know.

    Be interested to hear how it turns out.

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    The one thing that always seems to be lacking in the Chili flavor arena for me is the Comino. Most people use it way too lightly for my taste. Get it whole, lightly pan toast then grind and add....salt to taste. ALSO...white wine brightens the flavor of Red Chili....not so much the green...something about the alcohol and carotinoids?????

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pabloz View Post
    The one thing that always seems to be lacking in the Chili flavor arena for me is the Comino. Most people use it way too lightly for my taste. Get it whole, lightly pan toast then grind and add....salt to taste.
    That's what I was thinking. Cumin. And lots of it.

    Also, some Mexican oregano if you can find. Coco powder or grated Mexican hot chocolate works well, but the hot chocolate wouldn't be vegan since it contains milk, but if you stick with coco powder you're still good.

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    A little age will help as well. Young chili is never as good as aged!
    Spike C
    "The Buddha resides as comfortably in the circuits of a digital computer or the gears of a cycle transmission as he does at the top of a mountain."
    Pirsig

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    I've had the same problem where time is short. I tend to make a large amount of the base chili, soup, etc. and then take a small amount and alter it gradually to taste and then go back to the big batch once I'm done. As for what to add aside from what's been mentioned, I might try something like a nut or bean paste of some kind or possibly a nut oil. I also like to add a bit of molasses to a lot of things at various stage of cooking.

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    I do vegan chili all the time. The two keys to the recipe I prefer are cumin, as has already been mentioned, and bulghur. The bulghur helps with texture and puts a slightly different background on the entire flavour of the dish.

    It makes decent chili, but what I mostly use it for is chili nachos. You can make it really thick and it won't give off much moisture in the oven, so your nachos don't get soggy.

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    It's funny you mention bulghur, as I almost made it with bulgur instead of the dried hominy. But who can say no to big fat hominy kernels?!

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