When my husband declares that there's nothing to eat, and we need to go to the store before dinner, I take that as a challenge and try to come up with something delicious based on what we have sitting around the kitchen. It's probably why I love the show Chopped so much. This particular chili was the result of one of those evenings, and it turned out so well that we made sure to write down all the ingredients so we could re-create it on purpose some other time. We've been making it for the last four years, and sometimes I substitute green peppers for the orange/yellow ones, olive oil and red pepper flakes for the fire oil, and any sort of tomato product for the Amy's bisque, but it always turns out great. You can also add some frozen corn to give it more color. And if you prefer real ground beef to veggie crumbles, I'm sure it would be just as good (or leave it out entirely and use another can of beans). And don't forget the cornbread! The leftover chili makes awesome Frito pie. Yum.
2 tablespoons Mongolian fire oil (or any sort of chili oil -- look for it at Super Cao Nguyen or the Asian-specialty section of your grocery store)
½ medium red onion, chopped
½ cup chopped red/orange bell pepper
1 package frozen veggie crumbles (or the real thing, cooked and drained)
3 large cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 tablespoon cumin (or more)
1 tablespoon chili powder (or more)
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or more, depending on your spiciness preference)
6-ounce can tomato paste
7.5-ounce can Amy's tomato bisque
1 12-ounce can light beer
1 cup water
1 tablespoon vegetable-base Better than Bouillon
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can kidney or pinto beans, drained and rinsed
Grated cheddar or Monterrey Jack cheese
In a large soup pot, sauté the onions and peppers in the fire oil over medium heat until soft (about 5 minutes).
Add the veggie crumbles/meat and crushed garlic cloves, then stir in the spices.
Sauté 2-3 minutes longer.
Whisk in tomato paste, bisque, beer, water, and bouillon. Stir well.
Add the beans.
Simmer for 30 minutes (or longer -- this stuff is even better the next day).
Top each bowlful of chili with cheese, sour cream and cilantro. Serve with yogurt cornbread (recipe below).
I got this simple recipe off a yogurt container some years back, and it's the only corn bread recipe I make now. The yogurt is similar to making baked goods with buttermilk -- it gives the cornbread a perfect texture.
¼ cup sugar
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¨ø cup cornmeal
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup plain yogurt
¼ cup butter, melted and cooled
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs, then add the sugar and mix well.
Whisk the flour, baking powder, soda, cornmeal, and salt together in a large measuring cup.
Add the dry ingredients alternately with the yogurt to the egg-sugar mixture.
Stir in the melted butter.
Bake in a greased 10-inch cast-iron skillet for 25 minutes.
Watch it closely after the first 15 minutes to make sure it doesn't burn.
Cool in the pan (but remove quickly, or it'll get that iron skillet taste)