A few years ago, I found the One.
Oh, O is great, too, but when I say *the One*, I’m talking about the One, people. The one ultimate chili recipe, meaning I could put to rest my search for the greatest out there. I posted it a couple years ago, before I learned how to use a camera…. just saying.
So what’s so special about this chili, eh? Well, the original version technically starts with chunks of meat–nothing ground–sautéed, smothered with loads of onions, rich tomato paste, and an aromatic, full-bodied stout. Top ‘er off with chile pequin and masa harina, and you’ve succeeded in creating a chili that is everything good and nothing gratuitous–no green bell peppers, no corn, no beans, nada. I never thought that sounded too excellent, because growing up I’d only ever eaten a very different type of chili, but it was love at first bite. My chili coming-out party!
But these days, we eat way less meat and so I knew I had to develop an equally perfect vegan version. Enter.. ground seitan! Having never truly been a fan of the frozen “soy crumbles” forced onto you at the grocery store, I developed a ground seitan recipe a few months ago that’s the perfect stand-in for veganizing otherwise carnivorous recipes. Why?
It’s tender and flavorful and literally never toughens. It’s made in your own kitchen, so you know exactly what’s going into it, yet is so painfully affordable you’ll take to laughing maniacally at the fools–the fools!–who pay for the exorbitantly overpriced prepackaged stuff at Whole Foods. And it is my absolute favorite meat substitute to date.
The result is a chili that’s rich and spicy, a chili that focuses on just the necessities, a chili that would fool any omnivore. A chili that could win championships, like its meat-laden counterpart! A chili that will provoke a dramatic ripping-to-shreds of all your previous chili recipes. Go ahead, press delete. You won’t be needing that *other* vegetarian chili recipe anymore.
After all, you’ve found the One.
Ultimate Vegan Chili
- 4 tablespoons neutral oil , such as canola or a light olive oil, divided
- 20 ounces ground seitan
- 16 ounces baby bella mushrooms , halved
- 2 1/2 medium onions , chopped
- 4 cloves garlic , minced
- 1 6- oz . cans tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons dried oregano
- 3 tablespoons chili powder
- 1/2 bottle dark beer , stout recommended
- 1 cup not-beef broth or water
- 1 teaspoon ground chile pequín or cayenne pepper
- 1/2 tablespoon sweet paprika
- 1 tablespoon Tabasco
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 2 whole chipotle peppers
- 2 tablespoons masa harina or corn meal
- chopped white onions , to serve
- jalapeños , fresh or pickled, to serve
- chopped cilantro , to serve
Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a 6-qt. pot over high heat and sauté ground seitan 'til slightly browned. Remove with slotted spoon and set aside. Add 1 tablespoon oil and sauté mushrooms 'til browned; remove with slotted spoon and set aside.
Heat 1 more tablespoon oil, then add onions and garlic; cook until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Return ground seitan to pot; stir in tomato paste. Cook, stirring frequently and scraping bottom of pot with a wooden spoon, until tomato paste is caramelized, about 12 minutes. Add oregano, chili powder, chile pequín, paprika, tabasco, and cumin; cook, stirring frequently, for 1 minute.
Add broth or water, beer, mushrooms, and chipotle peppers; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer, stirring occasionally, about 2 hours. Stir in masa harina; season with salt. Simmer, stirring, until thickened, about 5 minutes. Serve with chopped white onions, jalapeños, and chopped cilantro.