Chili con Conscience

OK, I admit this is months overdue, but better late than never. Besides, it’s starting to get cooler, and autumn is the perfect time for chili, right? I’ve been promising my Instagram friend, @food.health.fit, that I would share this recipe. So, here it is!

Chili was one of the very first meals that I veganized.  While the concept is relatively easy, the tricky part was layering and developing flavors that were bold and not just spicy.  After tinkering with it, I developed a pretty solid recipe and decided to test it out on Christmas Eve with my family. Traditionally, my family does 7 fishes on Christmas Eve, so I needed something for my wife and I.

I was very happy to see it was well-received by everyone, especially my mom, who planned on hoarding the leftovers. However, my cousin Justina beat her to it. As Justina packed up the last of the chili to take home, she asked who made it, and didn’t believe it was me, since she was sure it had meat in it. I’m still not sure she believed me that it was vegan!

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I continued to make chili, tweaking the recipe now and then,  for family and friends. Then, I heard about a vegan chili competition, hosted by V Marks the Shop, in February 2017. It was the first of its kind in Philadelphia. With some encouragement from friends and family, I decided to enter.

The night before the competition was a marathon cooking session, making 4 large batches of chili to be sure I had enough for the anticipated 250 guests. As it turns out, I had enough for all 250 guests and their families, but better too much than not enough! It was a long night, but a lot of fun, and I was really excited about the cookoff.

The morning of the competition came, and I thought I was prepared for anything. Anything, apparently, except a leaking chafing dish. Thanks to my wife, who ran to a nearby market for some extra wide aluminum foil, we could patch the hole, and begin to serve a seemingly endless line of hungry attendees. While I was initially pretty nervous about the competition, I started calming down as people arrived, and I really enjoyed talking to everyone and handing out chili samples. Thankfully, my chili seemed well-received, and many people came back for seconds.

At the end of the day the winners were announced by Dustin Harder, the Vegan Roadie. I didn’t really expect anything, so I was really surprised when I won second place!

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It was so much fun, I’m already working on updating my chili for next year’s competition! Hope to see you there!

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Here’s the recipe. I hope you give it a try. If you do, please let me know what you think!

Chili Con Conscience

2 tbsp vegetable oil

2 lbs mushrooms, minced (Can use a food processor)

2 red bell peppers, chopped

2 green bell peppers, chopped

2 poblano peppers, chopped

2 jalapeño peppers, minced

2 medium onions, chopped

3 stalks celery, chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 tbsp tamari

6 oz can tomato paste

32 oz vegetable stock

15 oz can black beans

15 oz can red kidney beans

15 oz can white beans

1 package (11 oz) Beyond Beef crumbles

3 tbsp chili powder

1 tbsp cumin

Salt and pepper, to taste

Sauté mushrooms in oil until brown and moisture has evaporated.  Add onions and sauté for 5 minutes. Stir in tamari. Add remaining vegetables and garlic and cook for 10 minutes. Add salt and pepper and tomato paste. Stir to combine. Add chili powder and cumin and stir. Add vegetable stock, beans and beef crumbles. Stir to combine. Simmer for at least 1 hour, taste and adjust seasoning as needed.

Serve and enjoy!

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