Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The great vegan chili cookoff

This last Sunday, Rob and I thought we'd have a mini vegan chili cookoff between the two of us. We each have a different chili style. I favor flavor and color, while Rob favors a more traditional approach with high heat. We visited the grocery store and thought about ingredients we could share to minimize costs. That's true love for you. Here's what we picked up (I already had the hot green chillies, Rob picked them up for me in Florida, and the acorn squash was from Trader Joe's) from Giant. We planned on splitting the onion, green pepper, tomato sauce, and tomato paste.

We started by chopping up our veggies. We also used some garlic we already had at home. When I went to cube up my acorn squash, I first cut it in half and removed the seeds. Then I microwaved it (face down) for 2 minutes to soften the flesh a bit, then removed the skin, and cubed it.

As I said before, Rob really likes his chili hot, so he left all the seeds in his jalapeños.  If you want to lighten the heat, remove the seeds. Also, if you are sensitive, you may want to deal with peppers wearing gloves, or at least wash your hands immediately after chopping them!

Here are the finished products. We each let our respective chilis cook for 2 hours. 
You may want to recreate and decide on your own who wins. I'll let you know what we decided at the end of the post.

Steph's Autumn Vegan Chili:
1/2 onion, diced
1/2 green pepper, chopped
3-4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 acorn squash, peeled & cubed
28 oz. can whole tomatoes
8 oz. tomato sauce
3 oz. tomato paste
1 can black beans, drained & rinsed
1 can canellini beans, drained & rinsed
1 6 oz. can whole kernel corn, drained & rinsed
1 tsp salt
1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp dill
1/2 tsp rosemary
1 Tbsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp ginger powder
1 tsp chives
1 tsp evoo
1 Tbsp beer

Sauté onion in evoo. Add curry powder, cinnamon, chili powder & cumin. Add green pepper, garlic cloves & remainder of spices & stir to coat. Sautee until onions are translucent. Add beer & squash. Stir & simmer 5 minutes (open your cans & drain your beans now). Add tomatoes, and with your spoon, crush the whole tomatoes, chopping them into smaller chunks. Cook about ten minutes. Add beans and corn, lower heat to low, cover and cook for 2 hours, stirring occasionally. Serve with sliced avocado and chives.

Rob's chili 2014:
1/2 onion, chopped
1/2 green pepper, chopped
3 cloves garlic, diced
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp Italian seasoning or basil
2-3 Tbsp chili powder ("You can't make chili without it!")
1 Tbsp oil
28 oz can whole tomatoes, cut into quarters
15.5 oz can light red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
15.5 oz can dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
6 oz beer
8 oz tomato sauce
1-2 Tbsp tomato paste (Rob's note "I have not used tomato paste in the past. I hope using this does not make this chili too tomato-y.")
2 fresh jalapeños,  diced (with seeds and membrane) (Rob's note "Taste the jalapeños,  if they aren't hot, use 5-10.")

Measure out the spices so that they are ready to go (Steph's note "Notice a distinct difference in cooking styles? I don't think he actually did this, I think he just said he did because I always use the palm of my hand to eyeball measurements!").
Sautee onion and green pepper in hot oil until the onion is almost translucent. Add garlic and saute another minute. Add spices and stir.
Add cut up tomatoes and juice, tomato sauce, tomato paste, kidney beans, jalapenos, and beer (Rob's note "Busch- gotta keep your priorities straight.-Bill Gawdy, Youtube)
Bring chili to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
You want the flavors to meld together, but you don't want to cook too long. You still want to see the form of the tomato quarters, the chunks of onion and pepper, the beans whole and not mushy. Also note the diced garlic.

Side by side, we each tested both chilis. With some TJ tortilla chips and Earth Balance crackers to cleanse our palates, we were ready to name a champion. 

We decided that for presentation, mine was the winner. Mine was more flavorful, but Rob's was spicier. In the end, I liked mine best, but also liked Rob's. Rob liked his the best, but also liked mine. Winners all around!

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