Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Vegan Black Bean Chili

On the Cheap:
Vegan Black Bean Chili

15+ years ago my mother clipped a recipe for black bean stew out of the local newspaper. It was right around christmastime, I was a newly minted teenage vegetarian, and she was looking for something a little different for holiday dinner. The recipe was decidedly un-vegetarian but with some substitutions and, not factoring in the mouth burns from excessive chili powder, we banged out a pretty good vegetarian stew. Every year since, when the weather turns cold,  mom still cooks up a big pot. There's always some waiting for me when, after a long drive down the east coast, I arrive home for Christmas. You might say its something of a tradition.

Clockwise from topL minced garlic, diced red peppers and spice blend. 
Once I was off on my own, and much in need of a cheap way to feed myself, I began making something similar, a vague approximation of quantities and ingredients. Over the years the recipe became more chili than stew and is now a staple in our house. When the cooler months roll around you're likely to find a big pot of this on our stove every week. Its a go to for parties, great and perfect for a veggie/omni mix crowd. I like to cook a big pot of polenta as an accompaniment. Creamy polenta atop a big bowl of chili is the perfect one-bowl meal.

Dried black beans and canned tomatoes are a pantry staple around here. I prefer the dried beans to canned, mostly as a cost saving measure. You can buy them in bulk or find cheap 1lb bags at a traditional grocery store. And whether its the more expensive organics or the cheaper option, canned tomatoes are a must have. I like to use a mix of diced and puree/juice in this recipe.
Pre cooked chili ingredients, ready to simmer for an hour or two.
Vegan Black Bean Chili Recipe 
(feeds 8-10)
11b dried black beans (approximately 6-7 cups cooked)
3-4 15oz cans
1 28oz can diced tomatoes in juice
1 28oz can whole peeled plum tomatoes in juice, diced or broken apart by hand
2 cups tomato puree
2 cups tomato juice

2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium diced yellow onion
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 medium red bell pepper, diced
1 cup of water
1tbsp chili powder
1 1/2 tbsp cumin
1 1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1tbsp Tabasco (you can add more/less)

Dried black beans, quick cook method:
Place dried beans in a colander and inspect for any small stones/ grit
Thoroughly rinse beans and drain
Place in 5qt pot and add water until beans are completely covered
Bring to a boil, boil for 2-5 minutes
Remove from heat and allow to soak on the stove overnight
Drain pre-soaked beans

If using canned beans, drain and rinse in colander and set aside

In a large pot heat olive oil over medium heat.
Add diced onions and saute for approximately 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently,
until they begin to appear translucent.
Add minced garlic, continue to stir for 2-3 minutes more.
Add diced peppers, chili powder, cumin, sea salt, and ground cloves.
Stir and cook for one minute more, until well incorporated and fragrant.
Add in cooked, drained beans or canned drained beans, stir to combine.
Add your tomato puree/juice, diced tomatoes, water and Tabasco,
stir to combine.
Bring all ingredients to a light boil, then reduce heat to low.
 Cover pot slightly; not tightly, just enough to catch splatter.
Simmer for approximately 2 hours, returning to stir every 20 minutes or so.
If the liquid has reduced too much, add a bit more tomato juice/water as needed.

Taste after cooking time is up to make sure your beans are cooked through.
Add more hot sauce according to your preference.

 I usually continue to fill this chili out for a couple of days, adding more cooked beans, tomatoes, and spices as we put a dent in the pot.

Great with a scoop of polenta, a crumbling of corn chips or cornbread over the top, and/or a sprinkle of cheddar daiya.
FYI, the daiya/corn chip combo?
Pretty hard to beat.
Finished chili with a side of no-fail cornbread. Yum.

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