Sunday, September 9, 2012

Vegan Chili: A great football tailgate fake out!

Whoa!  It has been over 9 months since I have written a new post.  I used to write blogs while I was bored at my old, not so cool job, but now I have a job that I love at The Cleveland Foodbank, so no time to blog at work.  That doesn’t mean I haven’t been cooking and coming up with new delicious vegan treats that will trick all of the biggest veg critics.
So it is now football season again and as an avid Food Network/ Cooking Channel/ Football watcher I can’t help but be sucked into all the shows about football tailgate parties and burger fests.  I have realized there is not a lot that annoys me more than everyone’s weird obsession with bacon.  I mean I agree as much as the next person that salty, savory, things are delicious, but this is just getting to a bizarre level.  It is becoming the US of Bacon.  And if you don’t like Bacon you are somehow seen as less American.
So 2 years ago it was cool to like avocado so it was on everything, avocado sandwiches, hair products, burgers, and even avocado soup (which will forever be gross to me).  Now don’t get me wrong I love avocados, but these over the top food trends are starting to wear on me. When I saw the 4th bacon special in a row (I know it took me 4 for it be a line crosser, but I am a sucker for comfort food so it takes a while) and someone created a bacon chili, consisting of loads of hamburger, pounds of bacon, topped with more bacon, wrapped in bacon, and then served with glazed bacon, I realized it was time for me to give football fans a chili recipe that is tasty, but not so trendy.  (Now I am cool right?  Rebelling against what is trendy?  ---that’s the goal!)
So last night, knowing that today was the season opener for The Browns, I preemptively made a huge pot of delicious chili that will fool any bacon chili lover into eating their veggies and loving them. No serious business this veggie based, black bean, sweet potato masterpiece sounds weird but tastes awesome and is SO healthy, but no one has to know that.   There is not a better way than losing football friend fans than telling them you made them something healthy, so keep it a secret. Tell them you made them your secret, super fattening, triple meat chili and they will be none the wiser.
Ingredients: (Ok this is going to sound like a lot of things, but it is a GREAT use up for veggies left over in your fridge, if you have other things that you want/ need to use throw them in.  As long as you use the recommended spices it will be yummy and taste like awesome chili)
·         2 table spoons vegan butter
·         2 small sweet onions- finely diced
·         1 green pepper- diced
·         1 yellow, red, or orange pepper- diced
·         2 large carrots- finely diced
·         2 stalks of celery- diced
·         3 table spoons of pre-diced garlic
o   Keeping the big jars of garlic on hand saves your prep time and the smelly fingers.
·         12 crimini mushrooms halved and then sliced. (If you don’t have crimini use your favorite)
·         1 half of a large sweet potato, peeled and diced
o   Quick tip for peeling a sweet potato: because they are very hard you can actually use your spoon to scrap the skin off the outside and you don’t lose any of the yummy orange potato.
·         1 Can of Black Beans
·         1 can fire roasted tomatoes chopped or crushed
·         1 can tomato sauce
·         1 cup of spicy tomato juice
·         Agave Nector to Taste
·         Vegan Ground Meat ( If you have a gluten allergy just leave this out or substitute extra firm crumbled tofu, that you have frozen, defrosted, and then crumbled)
 ** Don’t use the gimme lean that comes in a tube, even though I love their sausage their ground beef tastes like cardboard. L**
·         Spices:
o   Onion Powder- 2 teaspoons
o   Garlic Powder- 2 teaspoons
o   Bragg’s Amino Acids or Soy Sauce – 3 table spoons
o   Chili Powder- 2 table spoons
o   Smoked Paprika- 1 table spoon (smoky taste will make them think there are two pigs in the pot)
o   2 teaspoons Indian curry powder
o   Cumin- 2 table spoons (more meat fake out)
o   Basil- ½ tablespoon
o   Oregno – ½ tablespoon
o   Savory seasoning blend- ½ teaspoon
o   4 bay leaves
o   Vegan Beef Bouillon – 2-3 cubes, or 2-3 teaspoons (meat fake out trick of the week, but if you can’t find beef the chicken will work too, no one will be able to taste the difference)
o   Black Pepper- 1 table spoon
o   Crushed Red Pepper (if you like spice)- 2 teaspoons
Get to Cooking:
WARNING : If you are trying to impress the bacon loving ground please chop all your veggies as small as possible that crowd, hates to think they are eating some healthy.  Even if they love it and they see a big carrot they will probably tell you they don’t.

Start by melting the butter and adding in the carrots, celery, and onions. (If you are ever playing trivia and you are asked what the word “Mirepoix” pronounced “meer-pwah” means it is just that, chopped carrots, celery, and onions.)

Let them cook for about 5 minutes stirring often, so they start to caramelize and gain some color.  Next add in the mushrooms and left cook for another 2 minutes.  Then add half of all the spices (So some of each- again to remind you I don’t usually measure spices so if you want more of any one thing, then by all means add it, but be careful with the smoked paprika if you add too much of that it will become bitter.)  Let the spices coat all of the veggies that you have added in then add the peppers. (If you add them at the beginning they will become too mushy.)
Continue to cook over medium heat until things starts sticking to the bottom (about 1-2 minutes) then add in all of the tomato products and 2 cups of water, scrape the sticky stuff off the bottom of the pan.  Bring this mixture back to a boil.  After it reaches a slow boil add the sweet potatoes, vegan ground beef, and black beans.  Bring everything back up to a boil and add the remaining spices and the agave nector. (By adding a little sweet it will bring out all of the savory flavors.)
After everyone is in the pool then you just have to continue to cook over medium low heat until the sweet potatoes are cooked through, this should take about 15-20 minutes. After the potatoes are soft (you can check by seeing if you can cut through one easily with a spoon.) it is ready to eat.  I suggest serving this topped with vegan cheese, sour cream, and green onions with a few corn chips on the side.

When I make this recipe I am able to eat on it for almost a week.  A good way to transform it is to eat it over nachos with melted diaya cheese, eat on top of a baked potato, on a hot dog with some vegan slaw, or add a little taco seasoning and have it in a shell!
This is a great way to eat your veggies, feel full, and stay of a part of the cool bacon loving in crowd. Now after they have eaten their 2nd or 3rd bowl, let them in on the secret and watch their hilarious reactions!  “Oh, I knew that the whole time!” “I knew it tasted healthy!” or the best “Oh gross, I was just pretending I liked it.”
You will get the last laugh with this recipe!!!

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