Really … the title says it all! The heat wave had broken it was a cloudy, rainy, lazy Sunday, and I celebrated by making a huge vat of chili. Not just any standard vat of chili – but a 12 quart vat of slow cooked chili comfort. Chili is one of those freezer staples that is like putting on your favourite ratty sweatshirt and sweats after a no-good-rotten day. With nothing else to do, I decided to challenge myself and make the Best Chili Ever. Whenever Top Chef has their chili challenges all the chefs’ whine about how chili is an all-nighter and it needs constant attention, so I looked for the most involved, complex, slow-cook recipe I could find while still being able to make it in time for dinner. And I found this recipe with a Million Ingredients (or close to), and I have found my comfort chili recipe.
Compliments of Kathy of Healthy. Happy. Life., this chili won her a chili cook-off. It is everything a standard, non-fusion chili should be. Tons of beans for stick-to-your-ribs goodness, mushrooms for a nice toothy-meaty texture, and a sauce that is half roasted, half simmered, with dark molasses lending a nice rich colour. Half the veggies are tossed in oil, spices, and roasted to add depth. The other half compose of a “Veggie Pot Roast” which is first simmered in a tangy molasses-based sauce and then roasted. The tomato base is simmered throughout the process, and everything is dumped into the one pot and simmered for at least one hour and however much longer you can resist the delicious aroma! All of these steps generate a lot of dishes, but with a lot of downtime in between by dinner you could even have a dishes-free cleanup if you use your time wisely. The end result is a delicious affair that could be served with rice or cornbread, but why waste valuable stomach real estate when you could dig into another bowl? It freezes and reheats exceptionally well, and for a quick lunch serving a bowl of chili on top of a pile of greens cannot be beat. So next time you find yourself having an Eeyore day, make this chili and a smile will be on your face by dinner!
The recipe can be found on Kathy’s webpage Healthy.Happy.Life here: Roasted Vegetable Chili
I made the following changes, due to last-minute planning and pantry constraints:
Part A: Roasted Veggies: I omitted the agave, as I am still not sold on sweet in savoury. Do not skip the cherry tomatoes! Putting these into the chili gave a tomato-duo combination at the end that is as unique as it is delicious.
Part B: Veggie Pot Roast: I used olive oil instead of butter, and used 6 dried shitake mushrooms (reconstituted) instead of the sausage. Personally I thought the meatiness of the sliced reconstituted shitake mushrooms matched the beans better than sausage, but this may be a departure from ‘classic’ chili. I like a toothsome quality to chili. I also used 3 jalapenos instead of the chipotle peppers in adobo, as that is not a pantry staple. Finally, I omitted the corn (personal preference).
Part C: Tomato Base: Again, more jalapenos instead of chipotle peppers in adobo. This may have made my chili less smoky and more ‘clean’ spicy, but I thought it was still delicious! In an attempt to compensate I threw in a dash of liquid smoke near the end. For the bean mixture I used a mixture of pinto beans, black beans, fava beans, and chickpeas. The more beans the better! After all, you do control the chili pot.
Do not be intimidated by the million ingredient list. The best part of chili is that at the end of the day you can clean out your fridge and use whatever beans you have and it will still be delicious comfort food. The method just seems complex, but there is a lot of down time. Due to pot restrictions (I own one) I had to do the recipe in steps instead of all at once, but this allowed me to prep the next step while the last one was cooking, so it seemed like no time at all! This also helped with dishes control (ups to the dishwasherless!)