This dish made me think of Masterchef for some reason – you know when they’re talking about the contestants and they say “that guy really knows how to get flavour into his food”? I always remember them saying that and kinda thinking – what does that actually mean?? But that’s basically all that happens in Masterchef, a bit of cooking and lots of nonsense comments and Gregg making those “oooooer” noises while scarfing a dessert…
In any case that is what I’ve tried to do with this chilli recipe – get lots of flavour into it. Because if I’m honest, I often find vegetarian chilli a bit bland and disappointing. But I had a really nice one the other day and it inspired me to try again and see if I could create a chilli I can be a bit more excited about. This is that chilli and it is pretty damn tasty…
Anyway, chilli first! So the idea here was to get flavour in so I’ve used pretty much every technique I know for doing that. I started out with a range of flavourful veg like onion, carrots and celery. I added lots and lots of spices. I used dried chillies and, importantly, their soaking liquid for extra flavour. I used the liquid from the cans of beans. I used good quality tomatoes. And I added booze and even some stock mix. Oh and some bulghur wheat instead of that slightly chewy fake mince for texture. And ya know what – it worked. It worked pretty damn well, if I do say so myself.
Tasty Vegetable Chilli
Adapted from BonAppetit
- 1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
- 2-3 stalks of celery, diced
- 2 small carrots or 1 large, diced
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tbsp each cumin, cayenne/chilli powder, oregano
- 1 tsp each smoked and sweet paprika, cinnamon
- 5 cloves of garlic
- 1 red pepper, diced
- Dried Mexican chillies, whatever you can find, I used 2 ancho chillies and 1 chipotle (make sure to save the water when rehydrating them as this will be used for the chilli)
- 250ml beer to deglaze the pan (leave open for a bit first to remove the carbonation) I used a Harveys porter, I think dark beer works well but a regular ale would be fine too.
- 1 can of kidney beans
- 1 can of black beans or pinto beans if you can find them. Or even refried beans could work and will give a creamier, thicker texture.
- 500ml of passata or 800g (2 tins) canned plum tomatoes (I find these give a better flavour than chopped tomatoes, you can just press the with your spoon to break them up. Or in America they sell fire-roasted tomatoes which would add even more flavour! Yum.)
- 1 tbsp each light brown sugar, cocoa powder and stock powder
- 100g (½ cup) bulghur wheat (substitute some quinoa for a gluten-free version)
- Sea salt and black pepper to season
- Garnishes: sour cream, red onion, scallion, jalapenos, grated cheese, coriander, jalapenos
- Rehydrate the dried chillies if using, reserve the soaking liquid.
- Sweat the onion, carrot, celery and spices in a bit of butter and oil over medium-high heat until the vegetables are a bit soft, about 10 minutes.
- Add the garlic and pepper and rehydrated chillies (chopped) if using. Cook over medium-high for another 3-5 minutes.
- Pour in the beer to deglaze the pan. Cook until the alcohol smell is gone, about 5 minutes.
- Add the beans, their liquid, tomatoes, sugar and cocoa and stock powder. Bring to a simmer.
- Add the bulghur wheat, reduce the heat slightly and cook until done, about 15 minutes.
- Season to taste and serve with lots of garnishes, over rice, a baked potato or with cornbread. Yum!
Corn Bread Muffins with Cheddar, Jalapeno and Green Onion
Adapted slightly from SmittenKitchen
Makes about 18 regular muffins or 36 mini-muffins
- 300ml (1.25 cups) buttermilk (or same volume milk and 1 tablespoon white vinegar)
- About 2 tablespoons butter
- 165g (1.5 cups) medium-grind cornmeal (often packaged as ‘polenta’)
- 55g (1/2 cup) all-purpose flour
- 1.5 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 5 tablespoons sugar
- 1 eggs
- Other bits to add: one cup grated extra-sharp cheddar, two thinly sliced scallions, and 2 tablespoons minced jalapenos
1. Preheat the oven to 190C / 375F degrees.
2. To make your own buttermilk, make sure the milk is at room temperature (about a minute in the microwave should work for milk straight from the fridge), then add the vinegar. Put aside while you prepare the other ingredients.
3. Put a tiny knob of butter in each section of the muffin tin, then place in the oven until the butter melts. Meanwhile, combine the dry ingredients in a bowl. Mix the egg with the buttermilk. Stir the liquid mixture into the dry ingredients until combined, add cheddar, scallions and jalapenos and mix briefly. Pour the batter into the preheated muffin tin and place in the oven.
4. Bake about 15-20 minutes for muffins (10-15 for mini muffins), until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean.
5. Serve hot. They also freeze well and can be defrosted and reheated in the oven (or microwave).
Enjoyed this post? Why not leave a comment or subscribe via email or RSS (see boxes on the right). Or find another post to read…