i called my sister yesterday. mostly because i missed her, but also because i wanted to make chili and i remembered a text message she’d sent me a few months ago where she’d made some crazy amount of chili for an event called gastro non grata. (seriously, how cute is she? and how huge is that pot of chili?)
based on this, i decided to forego my usual scouring of the web for 8 recipes i would mash together and adjust and just ask her how to make awesome chili. the one she made was a beef short rib version and i was going for vegetarian, but she assured me the most important part was a solid chili base, and i could just take it from there.
since i don’t have a gas burner (the horror, i know) she suggested getting a cast iron skillet piping hot and blackening the chilis and anything else i might want to add like onions and garlic and charring the heck out of it all.
i left the garlic in its paper, i quartered the onion, not bothering to peel it, and also threw in some tomatillos. i let them cook, moving them around with tongs until i could tell they were all starting to soften and then pulled it all off onto a plate, peeling what i could of the peppers, the garlic, and chopping up the onion.
i used an assortment of chilis and peppers: padrons, serranos, chipotles (which i rehydrated) poblanos, and a yellow pepper i had lying around. i then used cooked up some soyrizo in the bottom of a pot with some neutral oil and then let some tomato paste caramelize a bit as well before adding in all my roasted vegetables.
i used two different types of beans, both from rancho gordo. the rio zapes and the ojo de cabras both make a nice pot liquor when you cook them, and i made sure to reserve some of it for later.
i thought i’d share my notes from my phone call with ella. i’m probably the only one who can make sense of this, both because i wrote them, and because my sister sometimes doubles back on steps when explaining something to me, but i thought it amusing to look at while at the store.
i didn’t have enough fresh tomatoes to fill out the whole recipe, but i did use a nice can (san marzano) and also chopped up some fresh dry farm tomatoes i had in my kitchen. as for spices, i went with some chili powder, a bit of cumin and a good shake of smoked paprika. the soyrizo had a fair amount of paprika in it to begin with, but i added some extra because… well, because i wanted to. same reason i added a healthy glug of bourbon.
i blitzed some cilantro with creme fraiche for a bit of cool topping — this was hot. all in all, this was one of the better chilis i’ve made. my sister’s right… it’s all about the base.
vegetarian chili from two sisters
(approx. amounts only)
any assortment of chilis: serrano, habanero, jalapeno, chipotle (i used dried)
assorted peppers: bell, poblano, padron
1 large onion, quartered
5-6 cloves garlic, unpeeled
1 package soyrizo
1/4 c. bourbon
5 c. tomatoes, fresh or canned
3-4 tbsp tomato paste
juice of 1 lime
smoked paprika, to taste
chili powder, to taste
cumin, to taste
salt, to taste
2 c. dried beans or 4 c. cooked beans
this made a large pot of chili - my guess is about 6-8 servings. you can cut down on the amounts if you wish, and choose the chilis based on the spiciness you prefer. this is kind of a go-with-your-gut kind of recipe, not a careful measuring of ingredients, so feel free to add/adjust things as you see fit. just remember what ella said: it’s all about the base.
if using dried beans, set them to boil in a pot of water.
either blacken peppers directly over a gas burner, or roast in the oven or in a piping hot cast iron skillet, until peppers start to soften. do the same with the quartered onion, garlic and tomatillos, until they start to blacken. remove from the pan and peel off the blacked flesh of the peppers, the peel of the onion and garlic, and the outer paper of the tomatillos. chop everything and set aside.
heat some neutral oil (safflower, canola, grapeseed) in a pan and add any protein you wish (beef, pork, soyrizo). add the tomato paste, and caramelize a bit. add the bourbon, the chopped peppers, onions and chilis and sauté for 4-5 minutes. add the tomatoes, and simmer for 30-45 minutes.
at this point, i took about 1/3 of the chili and added it to the blender, leaving some of it chunky but mixing in a smoother mixture. add the blended portion back to the pot and season with chili powder, cumin, lime juice, salt, etc. i also used a bit of the pot liquor from the beans to thin it out just a touch.
to make the creme fraiche, simply add 1/2 c. to a food processor or blender and throw in a handful of cilantro. season with a touch of salt. you could also top this with shredded cheese or sour cream.