Chili Takedown? Bring. it. on.
I crave a little healthy competition. I would say on a scale of 1-10, my competitiveness level when it comes to cooking is about an eleven. A few years ago I competed in the Tofu Takedown (also a Matt Timms event - he's awesome). So when I heard the call for a Chili Takedown at Bell House in Brooklyn (Sun, 11/21), I decided to break out my Secret Spicy Chili Recipe and give those meat-based chilis a run for their money.
I'm so ready to takedown the competition! I'll also be serving a side of my Sweet Soft Corn Cake. Here's my chili recipe - but warning, lots-of-ingredient-phobes, lookout!...
*UPDATED: scroll down to past the recipe to see my post-takedown reflection*
OK, so like I said, a lot of ingredients go into Chili. Mine is no exception. But here are a few highlights of this recipe:
* Mostly used organic ingredients.
* Dark chocolate-espresso squares add depth.
* A hint of molasses adds warmth.
* Ginger powder adds a warm spiciness
* Multiple types of chilis used: jalapeno, poblano and chipotle in adobo - plus chili powder.
* I roasted the veggies (most of them) before adding to chili mixture - intensifies and caramelizes the flavors.
* I used dried beans instead of canned. Better texture and flavor.
* I used fire-roasted organic canned tomatoes in my base.
* A wide variety of garden veggies: carrots, celery, bell peppers, onions, corn, spinach, parsley and more..
* A hint of nutritional yeast adds a savory flavor - a pinch of Daiya cheese too
* Ultra fresh, high-quality spices used
* I used organic beans: dark kidney and pinto.
* A hint of fresh lime zest and lime juice really boost the overall flavor.
* Optional crushed peanuts and pumpkin seeds on top.
* Multiple spicy flavors: cayenne, chipotle, jalapeno, ginger, chili powder and poblano peppers.
* Slow simmering method (this took me about 5 hours, not including bean soaking time).
* Soak the beans in 1/2 water, 1/2 veggie broth to maximize flavor.
* A bay leaf adds another level of flavor.
* Veggie protein: Field Roast Spicy Chipotle Sausage wins over taste buds.
* Light use of EVOO and a pinch of vegan buttery spread.
*Apple Cider Vinegar is a nice touch in roasted veggies.
Side of corn cake..
Now, onto the recipe...
Kathy's Spicy Roasted Veggie Vegan Sausage Chili
vegan, makes 3.5 quarts
A) Roasted Veggie Tray:
1 small poblano pepper, diced (about 1/2 cup)
1 small jalapeno pepper, diced (seeds removed)
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes
1 large carrots, diced (organic)
1 small tomato, diced (organic)
1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
1/2 red onion, diced (about 3/4 cups)
1 small green bell pepper, diced (organic)
1 T Apple Cider Vinegar
1 1/2 Tbsp EVOO
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp chili powder
2 tsp nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp garlic powder
drizzle of agave syrup
B) Veggie/Protein Pot, then Roast:
2 tsp cumin
1 1/2 T vegan buttery spread
1 tsp ginger powder
2-3 T molasses
3 cloves fresh garlic, chopped
3/4 cup red onion, diced (organic)
1 cups fresh baby spinach, chopped (organic)
2-3 Field Roast brand Spicy Chipotle vegan sausages, diced
1 1/4 cups celery, chopped (organic)
3/4 cups red bell pepper, diced (organic)
1/4 cup canned sweet corn, drained
2 T EVOO
1-2 canned chipotle chilis in adobo
1-2 tsp adobo sauce from can
C) Tomato Base:
4 cups canned fire-roasted tomatoes
1 tsp salt (to taste)
2 T chili powder (or to taste)
1 chipotle in adobo
2 Tbsp agave syrup
1/3 cup tomato paste
2 dark chocolate-espresso squares
1 lime, squeezed and zested (about 2 tsp zest) (organic)
1 bay leaf (optional, remember to remove after simmering process)
1 lbs organic kidney beans (dried) (organic)
1/2 lb pinto beans (dried)
7-15 cups water
8 cups veggie broth
1 T sea salt
-reserve 3+ cups of soaking liquid (to add as needed)
1 cup Daiya cheese (optional)
crushed peanuts (optional)
tip: chili is one of those recipes that is better the next day! So if you have time, make this mixture one day ahead and reheat in oven or on stove top.
1) Note that there are several ingredient sections A-E. First off, soak those beans! In the mixture of veg broth and salted water. You can either fast-soak them or soak overnight.
2) Drain beans, reserve 3 cups of soaking liquid.
3) Prep the veggies for your entire recipe. Chop, dice, peel, etc. Arrange your roasting veggies (A) on baking sheet and toss with seasoning ingredients. Roast in oven at 400 degrees until caramelized (about 30 minutes). Turn oven to low and leave veggies to stay warm.
4) Set aside your roasted veggies (A). Next toss all your pot/roast veggies (B) into a large pot over high heat. Bring to high heat, then reduce to simmer. Cover with lid and allow to simmer on low for 20 minutes. Finally, toss these veggies on a large, high rimmed baking sheet and roast for another 20 minutes.
5) Next we will start assembling our final chili mixture in its large chili pot on stove. To a large pot add the roasted veggies (A) and the soaked beans (D). You can also add about 1-2 cups reserved soaking liquid. You will need more liquid if your beans are still quite al dente. If they are perfectly tender, you won't need much excess liquid. Simmer this mixture on very low heat for right now - covered.
6) In a sauce pot ad all the tomato base (C) ingredients. Bring to a boil and simmer on medium heat, uncovered for at least 15 minutes. This allows the tomatoes to boil down and intensify in flavor.
7) When the tomato base is reduced a bit, add it to your main chili pot with the veggies and beans. You can also add in your (B) mixture which has been roasting in the oven.
8) Now all your ingredients will be in your pot. Stir well, cover with lid and simmer on low for 1+ hours. You can also alternate by uncovering the lid a bit to let some steam escape.
9) You can either serve now, or the next day as I mentioned in my tip above. Add some vegan sour cream, crushed peanuts, pumpkin seeds, chopped parsley, lime zest or vegan cheese as chili garnish.
Enjoy!! Side of corn cake is a very nice touch...
Takedown Reflection. Live and Learn...
Disappointed, yes. Discouraged, never. Regrets, none. Motivated by critics, always.
Event over. A few things. 1) Different from this event, the Tofu Takedown event I did last year was awesome! So much fun. Lots of veg-ppl there. 2) My vegan chili was freaking amazing! Vegan sausage, organic beans, roasted farm veggies and fresh spices. Healthy too. I was glowing with pride to present this recipe. I would (and did) eat bowl-fuls of the stuff. And the feedback about my dish (from those who tasted it) was great.
But overall, my heart is a little sad after attending this event. I was shocked by how many people discounted my chili even before tasting - all because they heard the word 'vegan'.
Boy: Yours is really good. My favorite. Voted for you.
Girl (overheard boy): wow, that sure says something. ..since it is vegan!
Post event thought -> Well that was interesting. I like a challenge. And I always give people the benefit of the doubt. I am open-minded, respectful and kind. I surround myself with people who are the same way. So when I take a leap of faith and expose myself to people outside the veg community, hoping to joyfully expose them to something new, I expect, and usually receive warm glances, happy smiles and curious conversation. I was a bit, no actually, a lot disappointed when a lot of the people at the Chili Takedown in Brooklyn didn't greet the word vegan with excited faces. And automatically judged it to be 'less than' the 'mainstream meat chili'. Confused faces muttered and shrugged shoulders, "Veg-en? Oh, I guess I'll try that." "Ohhh, huh?" "Interesting. Vay-gan you say?"
My face had a plastered on smile the entire two hours of serving. I cheerfully spouted for every of the 200+ guests: "this is a lime-infused vegan chili with a side of coconut milk corn bread." Cheerful tone. Big smile. Friendliness is my way. But really, I felt like Tony Bourdain in a sea of vegans, I muttered to myself, "wow, these are just not my people. Darn." My optimists' heart was kinda crushed. I didn't need to win, I really just wanted to see the meat-lovers get excited to try something new! And, OK, some of them did...
Thank goodness for the folks at the event who "got it" the "wow yours is my favorite!" And "cool, vegan chili, love it." "I'm back for thirds! I want more!" "I voted for yours, it is the BEST!" "the cornbread is fantastic."
But for every positive comment, those very few snarling, negative stares when I said the word "vegan" really broke my heart.
My husband was there helping me, thank God. But I was rudely awakened to the fact that (lightbulb) some people aren't a fan of vegans. The word communicates so much. Good to some and bad to others.
And when I had to get up on stage and Matt Timms shouted, "oh here comes the vegan!" And everyone clapped and made a fuss, I put on a smile, did a slight bow and gave my mini shpeel on my chili. I smiled and laughed, like always. But on the inside I felt very small. Very quiet. Very under-appreciated. Very discouraged.
I was proud of myself for having the balls to stand up there and smile and share my food. But, I kept thinking, damn, I wish I had a vegan cheering squad right about now.
So the end result - did my vegan experiment work? Did I influence anyone? Yes. But will I continue to trek through unknown territory to spread my message of "vegan can be cool and delicious!" - you betcha. I won't let a few snarls get me down. My real tears are shed for the many animals who die. My real tears are not for me but for the voiceless animals who deserve a better world.
(sunset/sunrise) The Day After: yea, OK I wrote this when I was emotional. My readers know I rarely ever talk like this on my blog. I hate dwelling on negative things. It's Monday, and I've totally moved on.
But yes, I am very passionate about my love of animals. My kitty. The ducks in the pond. Farm animals. Birds in the sky. Deer in the woods. When people ask me "why are you vegan." I always say "for animals." Most people at the event were incredibly respectful, but it was those (As I said) very few scrunched up or blank faces that got me sad. Overemotional last night? maybe. Yes I'm a sensitive girl - but really I'm just human. And I decided to share that here on my blog. So for anyone reading this who rolls their eyes. Sorry, but I'm a human - not a machine. Everyone cries for different reasons. You cry. I cry. We all get sad. I am allowed my reasons just the same as you.