In Texas, the preferred chili is called “Bowl of Red”. No beans. Slightly to very spicy. Lots of chiles. Beef. Slow stewed.
Now, of course, this could be seen as sacrilegious in certain quarters, but I do have a recipe for vegetarian chili. At one time, my husband, Steve, was vegetarian. So, I came up with this recipe for him some time ago. (He has since returned to the dark side. He relapsed on barbecue.)
It is a recipe, if I do say so myself, even ardent chili lovers will enjoy. Well, I’d like to think so, anyway.
I use canned pinto beans in this recipe. (If you know anything about traditional Texas chili, beans are always verboten.) They work great and are inexpensive. However, if you want to use different beans (i.e. black, cannellini, garbanzo, etc.) or a combination, feel free.
I admittedly have a lot of spice in this chili. Feel free to adjust it to your taste. And, instead of commercial chili powders, I use dried, ground chiles and spices you would normally see in mixed chili powders. I find I can adjust the flavors much more easily. However, if you have a chili powder blend in your pantry, feel free to use it. However, you will have to omit and/or adjust the other spices.
Now, to the recipe.
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 med. onion, minced
8 cl. garlic, minced
3 tbsp. Ancho chile powder
1 1/2 tsp. Chipotle chile powder (very spicy; use less or omit if you want less spicy)
2 tbsp. paprika (if you want a smokier flavor, substitute some or all with Spanish paprika)
1 tbsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. Mexican oregano
1 bay leaf
2 tsp. brown sugar (doesn’t matter whether it’s light or dark; dark is sweeter, though)
1 tsp. salt (kosher or sea)
1 tsp. ground black pepper
1 lg. (28 oz) can chopped tomatoes (I like Muir Glen Fire Roasted)
Vegetable broth or water as needed
2 ea. 15-oz cans pinto beans, drained
2 tbsp. masa flour, mixed with 2 tbsp water or vegetable broth to make a slurry (optional)
1. In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, heat the oil. Add the onions and garlic and saute until the onions begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Stir frequently.
2. Stir in the spices and cook until the aroma begins to come up, about 1 – 2 minutes. Stir frequently to be sure the spices don’t burn.
3. Add the tomatoes and 1 cup water or vegetable broth. Mix well, cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, keep the saucepan covered, and cook for 20 minutes. Stir frequently.
4. Add the beans and cook another 20 minutes, uncovered. The chili will begin to thicken as the beans cook.
After 20 minutes, if using, add the masa slurry. Cook for another 5 minutes. Taste for seasoning.
5. Serve the chili with cornbread or tortillas, chopped onion, shredded cheese, and sour cream, if you like.
And, like other chilies, this tastes even better the next day.