Super Duper Vegan Chili

We’ve been having mad cravings for vegan chili as the weather is still cool for this time of the year.  The weather has actually been really wacky… lots of rain, and cold days.  The weather is usually in the 80s this time of year, but today it’s only reached a high of 65.  I’m not complaining.  At all.  Trust me.  The month of May just means the summer is around the corner, which means hot summer months.  Ugh.  Such a drag.  So as much as I would like some days in the high 70s/low 80s, I’m going to enjoy this weather now because it’s gonna get hot in herrre.  Okay, now I’m complaining.

We decided to take advantage of today’s weather to make some spicy vegan chili to satiate our cravings.  And satiate it did!  I would love to eat this chili all year around, but the thought of cooking and eating it during the summer when the temperatures can range anywhere from 100-110 degrees F seems torturous. In fact, anything involving the burners or the oven inside the house during the summer heat sounds unpleasant.

Interestingly, I enjoy this chili more than I do a hearty and meaty chili! Don’t get me wrong, I’m a total carnivore. In fact, my initial thought before I tried this chili for the first time was how vegan chili could taste better than a meaty chili? Well, let me tell you, I was completely blown away after my first bowl. The texture of the “ground meat” fooled me, and the beans, vegetables, and spices were so flavorful that I didn’t need or miss the meat.  This chili even fooled my dad who says no one can trick him with vegan meat products.  Hah!  Take that, dad!

This chili is truly the best prescription for the soul.

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 small yellow onions, diced
1 red bell peppers, seeded and diced
4 large garlic clovies, minced
2 large jalapeno peppers, minced
1 large serrano pepper, minced
12 ounces textured vegetable protein (aka, original Smart Ground)
1 cups water
1 cans (28 ounces each) crushed tomatoes
1 cans (15 ounces each) red kidney beans, drained
1 can (15 ounce) black beans, drained
3 medium sized fresh tomatoes, chopped
1.5 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

In a large dutch oven, heat the extra virgin olive oil over medium high heat. Add the garlic and onions, and saute for five minutes or until the onions are translucent.

Add the textured vegetable protein and water, cook for 5 minutes, while stirring occasionally. Add the remaining ingredients and cook for another five minutes. Reduce the heat to a medium to medium-low (depending on your burners), and let it “stew”, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes (or until the bell peppers are tender).

Remove from heat and serve with your favorite toppings!

Posole Rojo

I was recently turned to shredded chicken red posole at a Christmas pot-luck while at work.  It was definitely authentic, as it was prepared by one of our coworkers who always brings the most delicious homemade Mexican dishes to our work potlucks.  I loved all the condiments that went along with the already flavorful soup itself.  I just about died and went to foodie bliss when I had my first bite of the posole.  It was the perfect blend of acidity from the limes and spicy from the chiles, plus other complex flavors of the stewed pork, cilantro, and hominy.  I only had one word to describe how it tasted… yum.

I was craving posole after my initial tasting.  In fact, I would go to bed dreaming of his red posole and wake up salivating for it.  So I sought out for the most “authentic” recipe that I could find.  I suppose I could have asked my coworker for the recipe, but some people can be very secretive about family recipes.  I digress.  I perused through a number of posole recipes, and came across one that seemed to be authentic.  We made this a few days before the New Year, and then realized that this is something enjoyed as a New Year’s celebration, which explained why there were only a few cans of hominy left at the grocery store.  This recipe yielded a very flavorful posole, one that we will certainly make again in the near future.  This is a wonderful prescription for a cold, wintery day.

Posole Rojo (from Rick Bayless’ Mexico One Plate At A Time)

3 1/2 pounds pork shanks, cut into 1 1/2-inch thick pieces (ask the butcher to cut this for you)
1 1/2 pounds (2 medium) pork trotters (aka, fresh pig’s feet), cut lengthwise in half (ask the butcher to cut this for you)
1 1/2 pounds bone-in pork shoulder, cut into 3 or 4 large pieces (again, ask the butcher)
8 cloves of garlic, minced
2 white onions, finely chopped
8 medium (4 ounces total) dried ancho chiles (or dried New Mexico chiles), stemmed and seeded
Salt
2 cans of white hominy

Toppings

Lime wedges
6 cups thinly sliced cabbage
15 radishes, thinly sliced or diced
Cilantro, chopped
3 to 4 tablespoons dried Mexican oregano
2 tablespoons coarsely ground dried hot red chile

Place all the meats in a large pot, cover with 4 quarts of water, add 2 tablespoons of salt, and bring to a boil.  Skim off the grayish foam that rises during the next few minutes, then add half the chopped onions.  Partially cover the pot and simmer over medium-low heat until all the meat is thoroughly tender, about two hours.  Cool the meat in the broth for the best flavor and texture, then remove it.

Skim the fat from the broth; you’ll have two generous quarts of broth.  Pull the meat from the pork shanks and pull the shoulder meat into large shreds.  Cut the bones and knuckles out of the trotters.  Discard the bones and knuckles, then chop what remains into 1/2 inch pieces.  Add the shredded meat (there will be about 6 cups of meat in all).  Cover and refrigerate if not serving within an hour.

While the meat is cooking, rehydrate the ancho chiles in enough hot water to cover (lay a small plate on top to keep them submerged) for about 20 minutes.  Puree the chiles, liquid and all, in batches if necessary, in a blender or food processor.  Press the chile mixture through a medium-mesh strainer (this removes tough chile skins) directly into the simmering liquid.  Add the pork broth and 1 tablespoon salt, partially cover, and simmer for 1 hour.

Add the meat and the hominy to the simmering posole, and allow to simmer for an additional 30 minutes.  The consistency of the stew/soup should look hearty – full of hominy with bits of meat – but brothy enough to be thought of as a soup or brothy stew.  If necessary, add water.  Taste the posole and season with additional salt if you think it is necessary; since hominy soaks up a surprising amount of salt, you may need as much as another tablespoon.

When you are ready to serve, set out bowls of the condiments for your guests to add to their steaming, fragrant bowlfuls or posole with the lime wedges, sliced cabbage, cilantro, sliced or diced radishes, oregano, and optional ground chile and onions.

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