Chili challenge - need input
My roommate and I are having people over for the Super Bowl, and one of them is vegetarian. I was asked to make chili - since everything else on the table will have meat in it, I was going to make a big batch of chili with veggie crumbles for all... until my roommate decided he would also make chili, with ground beef, because "meat has so much flavor" and he didn't want to cater to "the lowest common denominator". Now I eat and love meat, but I found that both impolite to our guest and offensive to my cooking.
SO I have decided my veggie chili needs to be the best chili ever so that the Meat King will have to admit that you don't have to have meat to have flavor. I make a mean chili, but it admittedly normally has turkey and bacon in it, so I'd like some input.
I was thinking of roasting the onion and peppers and maybe even the canned tomatoes, but I'm afraid that will make it too sweet, rather than smoky. Is this a good idea?
I've heard soy chorizo is really good in chili, but I've never had it. I wouldn't normally put meat chorizo in chili, so why would this be good? Is it the spices, the meaty texture, or what?
I'm going to saute some tomato paste, I'll add some chipotles in adobo, some cocoa powder and cilantro if I can get my hands on some this time of year. What else can I do for a flavor boost?
What about mushrooms? I don't think the sponginess would be a good texture, but the umami could help.
ETA: I've also got homemade veggie broth, but again, worried it will be too sweet. Or I could add some beer. I am also going to cook up some pintos from scratch for another flavor layer.
Please help me kick his butt. :)
Sorry I didn't update sooner, but I WON!!! We gauged this by the fact that twice as much of mine was consumed as his, and we did make clear to everyone which was veg and which meat. I also have to say the veggie crumbles were pretty good. I wouldn't have guessed it wasn't meat if I didn't already know. I had several people come up to me on the side and say his chili tasted like meat, but it just wasn't very good chili. So... meat doesn't automatically win just by being meat.
I did make my own beans from scratch and I roasted all the veg except the canned tomatoes.
The recipe is actually vegan:
2 pkgs Smart Ground (Mexican flavor), sautéed in oil with salt
2 28 oz cans tomatoes, blended with 2 chipotles in adobo
1 lb. dried pintos, cooked with epazote, garlic, bay leaves, oregano and salt, drained
2 large onions, roasted, whizzed in FP, sautéed in oil
1 red bell pepper, roasted “
2 poblano peppers, roasted “
6 cloves garlic, minced, sautéed in oil with 2 T tomato paste
Oregano to taste
¼ C chili powder
Garlic powder to taste
1 T cocoa powder
1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
I started the beans (in the crock pot) and roasted veg the night before. The next day, I pretty much drained the beans and tossed it all in the crock pot for about 4 hours and stirred in the cilantro late in the day. It ended up having a nice, medium heat that everyone could tolerate.
Toppings available: shredded cheese, sour cream, Frank's hot sauce, Sriracha, cilantro and chopped red onion.
I'd skip the meat substitutes -- they're not necessary and most aren't great anyway. Also, be careful not to add too many different flavours in trying to make it "special."
Chipotles and cocoa will work, plus any good quality spices (toast them first). Beans from scratch are awesome, but I'm sure you could do just as well with canned. I personally love chunks of roasted sweet potato or squash in chili, but if you're going for more traditional flavours, skip it.
And yeah, good toppings are key. Maybe make your own fried tortilla strips, julienne some jicama (hey, I like it), season some sour cream, and chop some cilantro.
Try to make it in advance (e.g. the night before serving) so the flavors can meld.
I've only ever used soy chorizo from Trader Joe's in soup, and found it a little disappointing in how much the flavor "washes out" from the product itself into the liquid.
Using the cocoa powder will help with counterbalancing anything sweet, as well as spice, acid and smoke. If you find it tasting too sweet, add a little more chipotle, ancho chili powder, and/or cocoa powder. Also, overnight resting can help with harmonizing of flavors.
Chili is the only thing I make where I think canned beans are fine. But I add them at the end and my chili is very aggressively seasoned so the taste of cooked dried beans would be lost. And I only use Goya.
But otherwise I agree very much about the merits if using other than canned.
If your guests tolerate scoville units, simmering a few fresh habarneros gives your chile a great taste plus heat.
chili is a meat based dish, Heck a "Major" chile debate is if chile should have beans!
So you are therefore, one step behind.
OK so, what secrets can we give you? Urami is defiantly the boost. Add it as you can. Can your Veggie friend do cheese? Parmesan? That has a good Urami boost, as do mushrooms,. I would duxcelle them.
I do not think pinto beans from scratch will add any flavor component. Chipoltes and cocoa are definitely a flavor boost. Roast that cumin and don;t be shy on the abundance of it! Google prize winning or award winning chile, see what additions can add to yours.
I think you were set up so fight unfair, since you are roomies, pretend to add "secrets" pretend to taste on the sly....oh yeah make it ahead one day, reheating adds satisfaction. Don't waste the veggie broth. It will not add a flavor that will win.
How will this contest be decided?
BTW cheese does have urami, aged cheddar on top....
I agree with the Umami suggestion but I wouldn't let Parmesan cheese anywhere near chili.
The recipe above is a great place to start. It's big on beans and adds spices though not nearly enough, is light on tomatoes and adds corn.
Roasting vegetables caramelizes them and so will add sweetness. Not sure if you want that.
Tomatoes add Umami but also add some sweetness. My secret is to grind up a can or two of rotel with my hydrated anchos (don't skimp) and my cocoa powder to make a paste. I don't like chili with chunks of tomato and firmly believe that chili must have both anchos and chocolate.
Use a light hand with the chipotles in adobo or it will be the only thing you taste.
Cooking up dry pintos won't add much of a flavor layer. Canned beans are fine for chili.
Garlic, onion, bell pepper, cilantro, dry oregano, cumin, chili powder abd salt are musts. Don't skimp.
I'd use beer instead of veggie broth because veggie broth us always somewhat sweet.
Tomatoes give you Umami as do mushrooms as will a shot or two of SOY SAUCE, which is a restaurant tip.
Make sure your chili is served with a variety if great condiments. Cheese and onions. Fritos, spaghetti, cilantro, scallions, lime wedges, some habernero-infused tequila (trust me, it's good), hot sauces, maybe some interesting crumbly Mexican cheese.
re: C. Hamster
I respectfully disagree about the canned beans vs. dried in chili. I think the canned beans have much less flavor and taste mushy to start with. And you can season the cooking liquid as you please to really get the flavor into the beans. I use beer at that stage.
And you could use a variety of beans for color, texture and flavor . Canned beans all taste the same to me.
I think mexican oregano is really good in chili, and I use more onion and spices than this recipe, too. Light on the tomato is a good idea, anchos are key,
>>>>I respectfully disagree about the canned beans vs. dried in chili. I think the canned beans have much less flavor and taste mushy to start with. .... Canned beans all taste the same to me. <<<<
ICAM. I don't trust the taste buds of people who think canned beans are an acceptable substitute. And I love beans in chili.
I make the following vegetarian chili frequently and neither Mrs. Wineguy nor I miss the meat.
THREE BEAN VEGETARIAN CHILI
1 medium Onion, diced
1 medium Red Bell Pepper, diced
2 Serrano Chiles, minced
3 Garlic Cloves, minced
1 TBS Oil, any kind
1 can Tomato Paste 6 oz
1 can Kidney Beans 15 oz, drained and rinsed
1 can Pinto Beans 15 oz, drained and rinsed
1 can Black Beans 15 oz, drained and rinsed
3/4 cup Corn (frozen, canned or fresh)
2 cups Vegetable Stock
1 TBS Salt
1 tsp Black Pepper
1 TBS Cumin
2 tsp Chile Powder
1 tsp Dried Oregano
1/2 tsp Cayenne
1 TBS Apple Cider Vinegar
1. Add the tablespoon of oil and the first four ingredients. Saute the vegetables until tender and aromatic, about 5 minutes.
2. Leaving the flame on high, add the tomato paste. Using a spatula, move the tomato paste around vigorously to avoid sticking. Cook the tomato paste around 2 minutes and remove the pot from the heat.
3. Add the remaining ingredients. Return the pot to the stove top using medium heat and let simmer for one hour.
Sour Cream, Fresh Onions, Cilantro, Limes, Avocado, Salsa, Red Pepper Flakes