Meatless chili for Lent.

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by mdboatbum, Apr 4, 2015.

  1. mdboatbum

    mdboatbum Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Fridays are meat free for us during Lent, so I try to be creative and not do the same fish every week. Really wanted chili yesterday, so i set out to make a meatless version that didn't taste like a compost heap.

    Ok that picture might LOOK like a compost heap, but it tasted like....well like chili. If somebody handed me a bowl I really wouldn't know it was meatless. As an added bonus, the only fat involved is 2Tb of oil for the browning of the mushrooms.
    I'll start off with the quick (ish) and easy (ish) recipe I used last night then I'll add my thoughts on how I might improve it.

    1 package Carroll Shelby's chili mix
    1lb "Baby Bella" mushrooms, minced fine
    6 oz. of mixed chopped tomato, jalapeño and onion. (2 oz each.)
    1 8oz can tomato sauce
    1 28oz can black beans.
    1/2 ounce dried porcini mushrooms ground to a powder.
    1TB each cumin, oregano and sugar
    1tsp each granulated onion and garlic
    1/2 tsp allspice
    Dash Worcestershire sauce
    Dash Balsamic Vinegar
    16 oz of liquid. I used a white IPA made by Harpoon, but water, wine or stock would work.

    Start off my browning the baby Bella mushrooms in 2tb oil over medium high heat in a wide, heavy bottomed skillet. This will take about 15 minutes as they will first give off all their liquid, then it will gradually evaporate, THEN they'll start to brown.
    Once the mushrooms have a little color on them, add the tomato, jalapeño onion mixture. Stir that around for a minute or 2 just to take the raw edge off.
    Then add the seasonings (in my case the spice packet from the chili mix, the onion, garlic and oregano) and stir for a minute or two to open up the flavors in the chili powder.
    You should be starting to have a little build up on the bottom of the pan by now. Add the tomato sauce, deglaze the pan and then transfer to a Dutch oven. The reason for the transfer is that the mushrooms do better in a wide skillet because you want the liquid to evaporate. The chili will need to simmer for a while, so I put it in a 3.5 qt dutch oven so the liquid wouldn't evaporate as quickly.
    Then add the rest of the ingredients and simmer for a half hour or so. If it's too thick add liquid. If it's too thin you can add masa flour or just simmer it longer.
    I served it over pasta with cheese and sour cream.
    The baby portabellas mimick the texture of ground meat, while the ground porcini give it that "umami" you normally would get from meat. Believe it or not, it doesn't taste the least bit like mushrooms. As I said, if somebody handed me a bowl of this I'd have a hard time figuring out it was meatless.

    As for what I'd do differently, I think smoking the mushrooms before mincing would be incredible. I also think I'd use vegetable broth rather than the beer, or at least use a lighter Pilsner. The hoppy IPA gave it a slightly resinous flavor that got stronger as the water cooked out. Funny thing is, I've made chili with IPA probably 10 times, and I always swear I'll never do it again. Then time passes and I forget. Plus I pretty much always have IPA on hand.
    Lastly, the chili mix is sort of cheating I guess, but the chili powder in it is always fresh and packs a punch. I might try with my own home made chili powder next time. I basically use Alton Brown's recipe.

    Hope you try this one. Despite my usual hatred of beans in chili, I did want some protein and I think the black beans really went well with it.
    Thanks for looking!!
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2015
  2. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Sounds tasty MD! We Put beans in our chili out west!

    When I was a freshman in College at the University of Oregon the dorm food court had tofu chili and tofu chili dogs. Needless to say I quit eating there!
  3. mdboatbum

    mdboatbum Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I thought for about half a second about using ground firm tofu, but then decided the mushrooms would be less offensive.
    Most folks do like beans in chili. I just remember being fairly poor as a kid and my mom making chili with very little meat and lots of kidney beans. It was more like a bean soup, so I guess it sorta put me off beans in chili.
  4. welshrarebit

    welshrarebit Master of the Pit

    We eat a lot of chili here and always put beans in them! My wife made some a few days back and she thought it was too watery and added lentils to soak up some of the stock. Good stuff...

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