Meatless Fridays #1– Vegetarian Chili
This is the first in a series of meatless Friday posts. Today we are having vegetarian chili. Lately even if I make chili with meat I add just a little bit. As it happens the older I get the more I seem to appreciate non meat dishes. This is not to say that I am a burgeoning vegetarian,I still love steak, ribs and chicken, But I eat them in moderation.
The origin of chili,although somewhat vague, seems to go back to a Spanish nun named Sister Maria de Agreda who, in the late 1600, was reported to have taught the Indians how to make a stew of Venison. Later an American version became popular. it was Made of Dried Beef,Suet,Dried Chili Peppers and Salt that were pounded together in to a brick and dried. This could then be carried on the trail,without refrigeration, and boiled in a pot of water to rehydrate the mix. During the 1880’s Mexican women in San Antonio known as”Chili Queens” would build fires and reheat Cauldrons of Chili to sell to passersby.
In 1893 Chili went national when the”San Antonio Chili Stand was a feature at the 1893 worlds fair in Chicago. It was so successful that Chili became the official dish of the state of Texas. In the early 1900 Chili parlors began popping up all through the Midwest cementing Chili’s place in the American kitchen.
Purists will say that real Chili has no beans but the truth is that the majority of people who make Chili add beans. Meatless Chili or “Vegetarian Chili” became popular in the 1970’s and 1980’s as the Vegetarian movement became firmly established the the country, as a whole, became more health conscious. Whether you like your Chili with meat or without one thing is certain,Chili is one of the most popular dishes in America.
This is my version of Vegetarian Chili. It contains all the usual stuff with a few surprises.
1 medium onion diced
2 stalks of celery diced
1 carrot diced
1 tablespoon on minced garlic
2 tablespoon vegetable oil
4 tablespoon Chili Powder
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 can diced tomato (14.5 oz)
3 cups vegetable stock or water
salt to taste
1 can kidney beans,drained and rinsed
1 can black beans,drained and rinsed
1 square bittersweet chocolate
3-4 tablespoon cornmeal
Sauté Onion,Celery,Carrot and garlic in vegetable oil for approx 2 minutes
Add Chili powder,cumin and Italian seasoning and continue sautéing until vegetable become translucent.
Add diced tomato, vegetable stock and bring to a boil.Then lower to a simmer. Simmer for 45 minutes.
Add both cans of bean and simmer for 15 minute longer.
Add chocolate square and stir until melted.
Sprinkle cornmeal on the top of the Chili and then stir in.
Allow to simmer until thickened.
Serve with your favorite topping (mine is Cheddar cheese and sour cream!)
- I add the Chocolate because it adds a depth of flavor (Umami). Its not so far fetched when you think about Mole sauce and the use of Chocolate and Chiles in Mexico.
- I use cornmeal as a thickener because it adds flavor. It works great and it gets soft as it absorbs the liquid so there is no grit.
Hasta Luego! (See you later!)