Monday, March 30, 2009

Winner, Winner, Rubber Chicken Dinner?

Maybe you just screamed, "Blackjack!" Maybe you're waiting for the Monty Python Knight to come hit me over the head. Okay, maybe not.

Rubber chickens are like veggie bacon, they gross me out.

There. I did it, I said it. Can someone please clue me in on the whole fake meat thing? I kinda get it, I mean I eat rice flour pasta. That's kinda like fakey fakey pasta, but if you look at the ingredient deck they're fairly similar: Rice Flour, Water vs Wheat Flour, Water. So how does veggie bacon stack up? You're gonna have to trust me on this one: thirty-seven ingredients for Veggie Bacon vs five for this little piggy clogged my heart bacon...

There's no judgment here, just me, as usual, looking a bit confused. Why would someone who doesn't eat meat, want to eat something that's a) manufactured and b) designed to look like meat? It can't be for health reasons, look at all of those ingredients. Yes, quite a few are vitamins and egg whites, but others are artificial colors, and let's face it, hard to pronounce.

Isn't this kind of like getting a blow-up doll fashioned after an Ex?


It is isn't it?

That Monty Python Knight is standing right behind me... I can feel it.

So, here's the deal, I'm not trained in the ways of the Veganista, so I'm not sure what rules can and can't be broken. It is my hope that this is a truly vegan chili, one that came out my desire to use up some "not so desirable, but not quite ready to compost" veggies. You know the type.

You'll need to go shopping and ask for things in Spanish. You could also order them at, but that's not as fun as mouthing Guajillo in your rear view mirror as you navigate your way to the nearest Latin market. The dried peppers will be fresher there (oxymoronic, I know.) I guess you could start with a local market, but only if you live in the barrio.

Alvarado's throw everything in one pot wonder.*

The variety of dried chile peppers really make the dish, and if you can make tea, you can make this dish. If you have a blender.

1 medium yellow onion diced
1 large carrot diced
2 tbsp white corn meal
Canola Oil
3 Chile De Arbol
3 Chile Mulato
2 Chile Guajillo
2 bunches scallions
3 large zucchini
3 large yellow summer squash
2 gargantuan red bell peppers
2 cloves garlic minced
14oz or so can of sweet corn (drained)
27oz (or less if you like) canned diced mild anaheim peppers (drained)
32oz (or more) canned white hominy (drained and rinsed)
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 tbsp veggie base (Better Than Bouillon-Whole Foods-is it vegan?)
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
2 quarts hot water (divided evenly)
Salt and Pepper
Toppings for your chili

So start with getting the water hot, grab your Guajillo and Mulato peppers and put them in a bowl, cover them with a quart of hot water and cover with plastic wrap. You might want to rotate/flip the peppers after 10 minutes or so to make sure they are fully hydrated. Once they are nice and soft, remove the peppers and hang on to that water. Remove the stems and seeds, and blend them with about a half a cup of the water. Leave them in the blender, even if your loved one wants you to clean it out immediately after use so it doesn't sit for a week "soaking."

If you have a grill or gas stove, roast your red bell peppers whole, throw those in yet another bowl when they're done and cover them with plastic wrap too. If you don't have a gas stove or grill, add them to the roasted squash. Halve your zucchini and squash and then cut them into 1/2" to 3/4" pieces. Grab one bunch of scallions, cut off the roots, and cut them into 1/2" pieces as well. Put these on a sheet pan, toss in canola oil, add a little salt and pepper and roast at 425 for 15-20 minutes or until roasted. You're looking to get a good color on them, they won't be cooked through.

Get your wonder pot out and over medium heat, add some canola oil. Dice your yellow onion, and carrot, throw those in the pot with the three Chile de Arbols (whole.) Saute until the onions are almost cooked through. Remove the Chile de Arbols, pop off the stems, and add them to the blender. Quickly. Go back to that pot and add the garlic to the pot along with the green chile, corn meal, and vegetable base. Continue to cook for another 3 minutes or so and add a quart of hot water. Reduce heat to a simmer and add in the hominy, tomato paste, oregano, cumin, and coriander.

Peel your red bell peppers and dice them to 1/2" to 3/4". Add the roasted squash and scallions, bell peppers, and canned corn to the pot. Go back to your blender and puree those Chile de Arbols into the others. You can add a "See, I told you I wasn't done with this!" here if you want to. You can also add a pour or two of more "pepper" water if it's too thick. Think ketchup consistency. Once you're there, add about half of the puree to the pot, stir and taste for heat. A little dab will do ya. I ended up using all of the puree, but you might not want yours that strong. Don't worry about the bitterness yet, the sweetness of the corn, peppers and carrots will help balance that out once it's in the chili. If you must, you could add agave or more tomato paste, but I really don't think you'll need to.

Chop up the other bunch of scallions, grate your favorite soy cheese, maybe some cilantro and diced white onion, and get ready to eat a hearty vegan dish with no fake meat! Yeah yeah yeah, a vegan dish with twenty-seven or so ingredients (more if count subs :P) but NO FAKE MEAT!

Now, go eat a bowl of chili after you wash out that blender. Go.

Wash it now. if you don't want to shop at Super A or Vallarta. if you need to substitute peppers.

* "One pot wonder" in no way shape or form means that you will only need to clean only one thing for the evening. Sorry to disappoint.


  1. Wow, yum! That looks amazing, and yes, as far as I know the better-than-bouillon from Whole Foods is vegan. We use it.

    Grain, soy, or plant-based meat: for some people who are transitioning into a vegan or veg diet, having the grain/soy/plant-based-meat products makes it easier to figure out what to eat, but often as people get more adept at cooking all plant-based meals, there is less need or desire to use those.

    And in my experience, when sharing vegan food with people who still eat meat ... do NOT try to give them grain/soy/plant-based meat! Better to stick with wholesome, whole-cooked flavorful dishes (like your chili!) that stand out with their awesome tastiness.

  2. Oops - I meant to write "wholefood" not "whole-cooked." Vegan raw dishes are yum, too!

  3. Man, that sounds spicey! You aren't kiddin' around with those Darbo Chili dealies.
    I want some!

  4. Tera,

    Thank you for the insight. I just feel like whenever there are vegetarians or vegans at a dinner party, people whip out a crudite or veggie corndogs from TJ's. If (maybe when?) I go Vegan, I want to know that there's more out there than just peeled carrots, celery, and bell peppers. I am working on a Vegan Mac N 'Cheese' for a future post. Let me know if you want me to FWD it to you, I'd love some Veganista insight!

    -m :)

  5. The ad for the TM31 is the foodie's infomercial x10.6875! Hard to believe that it can ....
    I guess that's because it is equipped with a maintenance-free Vorwerk reluctance motor, Solingen blades and a stainless steel bowl. Or is it because it is made in France?

  6. This may be the first instruction booklet I'll ever read!

    I believe it's made in Germany, yet it's sold in Canada...

    I'm not sold on the capacity, and I do love all my gadgets so. There is something to be said about having your Kitchen Aid out and about, and really, if you're not running back and forth between blenders, spice grinders, your double-boiler, scale, and whisk, you won't burn enough calories to eat that Zabaglione Cake in "Back to Square One."

    More importantly, it does have limitations, it can't record Blue's Clues ad nauseam.

  7. At the risk of sounding 'commercial' I'm going to get my two cents in here about the Thermomix. I am a user and huge fan. It's more than what it appears to be, and after two days of 'borrowing' one, just couldn't let it leave my kitchen. There is a very informative Canadian fan site that helps folks who want to order them into the US. -- Good luck and you won't regret it,