October is National Chili Month (the dish not the pepper) and in celebration, I thought I would bring this tried and true recipe to your attention. Having grown up in the Southwestern United States, making a good chili carries with it a sense of pride.
A few fun facts about chili:
- It is the state food of Texas.
- There is dispute about its creation. Cowpokes get the credit, but long before the cattle trail the Chili Queens of the military plazas in San Antonio and other towns were selling this hearty concoction to road weary travelers.
- The Incas and Aztec also had versions of a combination of beans and chili.
- While the chili trail is well documented and guilty of very tall Texas tales, chili con carne simply means “peppers with meat” in Spanish.
Here’s a really great article for more information. http://www.chilicookoff.com/History/History_of_Chili.asp
I learned to cook this dish when I was young, at my grandmother’s side, and during my time as a cook I learned more varieties of chili. These were the creations of the chefs I worked under, not my own. As a vegan chef I’ve experimented with various plant proteins, instead of those chunks of beef that trail cooks threw into their pots.
Tempeh is my chosen protein. It is a fermented soybean cake that comes in a variety of flavors. I’ve tried firm tofu, tvp (not a fan, bad childhood memories), and other non-meat proteins. Through experimentation I’ve found that tempeh holds up the best to give this chili recipe a firm texture.
I use several different chili peppers to give it a fiery flavor. The addition of lime adds the acidity that makes this dish such a crowd-pleaser. It’s best to use my basic vegetable stock to add a depth of flavor — and don’t forget the onions.
You will notice the absence of tomatoes in this recipe. I’m not sure of the how or why tomatoes were put in chili beans or chili con carne, but where I grew up we use peppers, beans, onions, stock (suet in the original recipes), and meat. I continue this time honored tradition by keeping to chilies, beans, and veggie protein.
- 2 tbsp sunflower oil
- 2 carrots, diced
- 1 red pepper, diced
- 1 green pepper, diced
- 1/4 cup onions, diced
- 4-5 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 jalapeno, diced
- 1/2 poblano chili, diced
- 1 anaheim chili, diced
- 1 yellow waxy chili
- 1 tbsp cumin powder
- 1 tbsp. coriander powder
- 2 tbsp red chili powder
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (more if you like it hot)
- 1 lb tempeh, minced
- Juice of 2 or 3 limes
- 1 cup cooked black beans
- 1 cup cooked red kidney beans
- 4 cups Vegetable Stock
- Chopped cilantro for garnish
- Lime wedges for garnish
- In a sturdy stock pot, heat up the oil. Add the carrots, peppers, onion, garlic, and chilies.
- Saute on a medium low heat until the onions are translucent.
- Add cumin, coriander, chili powder, and cayenne. Cook for a minute or two more.
- De-glaze with the lime juice.
- Add the tempeh and stir to incorporate all the ingredients.
- Add the beans and vegetable stock. Bring to a boil
- Turn down the heat and cover. Simmer on a low heat for 2 hours. This ensures that all the flavors infuse together and makes a tasty and comforting chili.
- Serve garnished with cilantro and cashew lime crema.