Vegetarian Chili recipes

May 13, 2012

These are adapted from “Black Bean Chili”, The Greens Cookbook.
I cooked both of these for a party, several people liked them enough to ask about the recipes, so I am documenting exactly what I cooked for reference. This is doubled from the cookbook recipe, so you might want to either cut it in half or refer back to the cookbook, unless you really like beans or intend to freeze some for later. The cookbook includes other options for garnish; this is just what I cooked. (This is a great cookbook, and Greens is a great restaurant.)

The *first recipe* is just a particular set of choices from the cookbook recipe, doubled.
The [second recipe] is heat-reduced, because just before the party I realized that some people in the crowd would prefer less heat, guessed at some changes, and they tasted okay. There are only three ingredient differences between the two; the choices are indicated both with color and decorations. This is the *spicy choice*, this is the [cool choice]. The main rule is to cut out the hot chili peppers, and substitute paprika (less hot) for ancho powder (somewhat hot). The result is a LOT of paprika in the cool recipe (about 3/4 of a cup).

If you can’t find the powdered spices (ancho and chipotle chili, in particular), try Penzeys, either mail order or in Arlington Heights on Mass. Ave.

One thing to note is that this recipe is aimed at producing soft beans; this means that adding the tomatos and salt should be delayed as long as possible to ensure that the beans are soft (acid slows softening). Fresh beans are better; a bag that has been sitting on a shelf at home for who-knows-how-long is not a good bet. I bought mine from the bulk container at Whole Foods; I imagine La Chapincita in Waltham is a good choice.
I tried a pinch of baking soda and that seemed to help (a pinch here is perhaps 1/16 teaspoon, added to 2 pounds of beans) but I read that this can destroy vitamins (thiamine, in particular). There’s additional discussion here: apparently there is a tradeoff between preserving vitamins and making minerals and proteins accessible, and who knows what effect hours of boiling has.

See also:
Effect of Different Soaking Solutions on Nutritive Utilization of Minerals (Calcium, Phosphorus, and Magnesium) from Cooked Beans (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) in Growing Rats
Most of the other relevant documents were behind paywalls.

  6+ quart pot
  small skillet
  4 quart skillet/pan/pot
  mortar, spice mill, or chopping coffee grinder
  (you can clean a coffee grinder somewhat
  grinding dry oatmeal)
  cup-sized containers for staging spices
  one larger heat-tolerant container for spices
  a heat-tolerant silicone spatula is helpful

2 pounds black beans
   Soak overnight.
   Drain, rinse, refill an inch above beans.

2 bay leaves
MAYBE a pinch of baking soda
   Add to beans (bury leaves in beans)
   Boil beans at low-medium.
   Barely boiling is fine, you don't want them to stick.
   They can cook for a while;
   too little is worse than too much.

9 Tablespoons cumin seeds
9 Tablespoons dried oregano leaves
*9 Tablespoons* [13 Tablespoons] paprika
*1 teaspoon* [NO CAYENNE] cayenne powder
   Heat a skillet over medium heat;
   Add the cumin seeds, heat and stir till they begin to color;
   Add the oregano, stir/shake so they don't scorch;
   When the fragrance is robust,
   add paprika and cayenne, remove pan from heat, stir,
   pour out of pan into cool bowl.

8 cloves garlic, crushed/chopped
1 teaspoon salt
*5 Tablespoons* [1 Tablespoon] ancho chili powder
  Grind cumin/oregano/paprika spice mixture above
  (in a mortar, which is tedious, or using a coffee grinder)
  Combine garlic/salt/ancho with spice mixture, set aside.

6 Tablespoons olive oil
6 medium onions diced into 1/4" squares
  Heat oil in a LARGE skillet, saute onions over medium till
  they soften.  Stir intermittently.  This takes a while.
  (You might start this before crushing the garlic etc.)
  When the onions soften, add all the combined seasonings
  above, and cook for five minutes.

2 28oz cans crushed or diced tomatoes
*2 teaspoons* [1/2 teaspoon or less] chipotle chili powder
  Add to onions and spices in large skillet,
  cook at low-medium for 30 minutes.

  Add tomato/onion/spice mixture to beans.
  Add water if beans are not covered.
  Cook for at least an hour; three is fine.
  Be sure heat is low enough that beans do not
  stick and burn; intermittent stirring that
  scrapes the bottom of the pot can help.

Goes well with sour cream, chopped cilantro, cheese.
Sour cream and cheese are helpful for knocking
back the heat if that is a problem.

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