It’s a good time to think about making a giant steaming crock of chili, because it’s cooling off outside. Also, if you have a garden, you probably have a ton of tomatoes and peppers.
When we realized it was a three-day weekend, and that we really didn’t want to go anywhere, that started sounding exciting, making a few buckets of chili, eating it, freezing it.
Marilyn’s a vegetarian and I’m not, so I can lean either way when I make chili. The tofu hamburger that they sell you in the organic section is perfect for chili, because tofu doesn’t really taste like much on its own. It’s really the texture you’re after, when you buy that kind of tofu, and it soaks in the flavor of whatever it’s cooking in.
I am a huge fan of tofu chili, but I am also a huge fan of meat chili. I tend to think it’s a little rude to clutter up the kitchen for three hours (two days, really) making a bunch of chili that my wife can’t eat, so I developed this method of simultaneously making both kinds of chili.
I don’t think my recipe is very revolutionary – three or four kinds of peppers, three or four kinds of beans, onions, garlic, chili powder, a decent amount of curry (that might be weird). Then I get two packages of Ives meatless burger, two pounds of actual hamburger, and a pound of pork sausage.
The night before, if I get the chance, I cook the hamburger with some onions. I usually buy three or four pounds of hamburger, and then have hamburgers the night before I start the chili, cook the rest of it while I’m at it. Then I put the cooked hamburger and onions back in the fridge.
Next day I start two crocks, both with three kinds of beans (chili, black and northern), and I use cans because I am lazy. I add peeled, diced tomatoes, garden fresh if I can get them and I handcut the onions and the peppers.
I don’t like to use a food processor. I am the opposite of lazy there. I like to cut them up into big chunks and I always appreciate the big chunks later. When I’m cutting the vegetables, for some reason I feel pretty good about myself. Very odd.
I sautee the onions and peppers in olive oil, and I add chili powder and some italian seasoning and some diced garlic. I have been told that it is wrong to add the garlic so early, but I do it, and since I can’t smell, I use italian seasong for pretty much everything.
I like to use four or five different colors of peppers because I think it looks cool, and if I have any celery then I sautee it, too. I cook it all until some of it starts to brown, then I put half of it in one of the crocks of beans and tomatoes. I add the hamburger and onions from last night, from fridge to crock. Put a lid on that, let it cook on low.
Then I add the tofu to the remaining peppers and onions. That doesn’t take long to cook, and the tofu soaks up the remaining olive oil – something the vegan chili needs. Also, if I have a portabello mushroom, I cut it up and add it now – I didn’t have one this time.
After about fifteen minutes, I dump all that in the other crock.
Then I cook the sausage in the same pan I just cooked the tofu and peppers. I cut it up into small pieces as if it’s going on a pizza. After it’s cooked all the way through, I dump the sausage in the first crock, and then if there’s any room left at all, I add more beans, whatever I have left.
For the most part, I’ve used one skillet and the two crocks which are now full of chili. I can clean that skillet and the countertops in about five minutes, and then I look pretty cool, because the kitchen is clean and there are two fantastic crocks of chili bubbling on the stove, and everybody gets to eat all weekend.
When I have chili, I like to have chili dogs, so now’s a time to point out that Marilyn is not a vegan. It happens to be vegan chili because I don’t add cheese to chili. But when I make chili dogs, I have to thicken it up a little, so I ladel some of it into a smaller pan, and add some shredded cheese.
If you’re a vegan, of course you’d have to use the vegan cheese you’re probably used to. Marilyn is fine with regular cheese, so we dirty two small sauce pans and everyone gets chili dogs – yes, she has vegetarian hot dogs, too. But we don’t bring out the sauce pans until I’ve already cooked the chili and then cleaned up after myself, so it’s not the mess it seems to be.
We eat it all weekend, and then a freezer bag or two goes into the freezer, and I’ll probably do something like that every weekend for the next couple weeks, as long as it’s raining tomatoes, then we have a freezer full of chili all winter – carefully labelled.
That’s what I’m doing all day, so I’m afraid you got the play by play. Chili turned out awesome – digital camera for the blog is on the way.