although we have to wave good-bye to the warmth of summer that inspires crisp salads, fresh fruit, and cold beverages... we can welcome the chill of fall because in inspires us to warm up with the hearty goodness of chili! Mmmmmm... I feel a little warmer just thinking about it.
Oddly enough, I didn't like chili until that last couple years. The truth is, I never really tried it because I'm not a big meat eater, nor do I like spicy things so I assumed I wouldn't enjoy chili. Boy was I wrong... chili has to be one of the most innovative and flexible dishes you can make. It really is a matter of putting together ingredients and flavors that you like and throwing them in a crock pot or over a stove top for a few hours. Simple enough, right?!?
So, this fall instead of only eating chili made by the chili master, and SUPER talented musician, Josh LeMasters (I was a chili moocher last year)... I decided to make my own this fall... and since I'm not a meat-lover, vegetarian chili seemed to be a great maiden voyage for me.
1 can organic tomato paste
1 20-24oz can organic diced tomatoes
1 can organic black beans, rinsed and strained
1 can organic pinto beans, rinsed and strained
1 can organic sweet corn, rinsed and strained
2 medium zucchini's, chopped into 1/2 inch or smaller pieces
1 large butternut squash, chopped into 1/2 inch or smaller pieces
2 medium carrots, chopped into 1/2 inch or smaller pieces
3 roma tomatoes, chopped into 1/2 inch or smaller pieces
1 medium yellow onion, chopped or diced
1 bottle of Ale Style Beer (I used 312 Wheat Style Ale from Goose Island)
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
*it is important to rinse and strain the canned beans and corn. The liquid that the beans and corn are kept in to preseve them are FILLED with sodium and other yucky things... so pore them into a strainer, rinse them with water and then strain out the remaining liquid!*
As far as how I made the chili... I will give some vague directions, but I really want to encourage you to be creative during the process of putting all of this together. Obviously, you throw it into a pot and let is simmer for hours, but the seasoning and flavors are up to you... it needs to be seasoned the way YOU will like. For instance, Casper and I cannot handle too much spice, but we love sweet chili so we used more brown sugar and cinnamon and less Tabasco... but you may like spicy. So really it's about making the chili to your preference and to suit your taste buds. While you're simmering the ingredients, continue to taste test the chili and add spices as needed!
in a LARGE pot, heal 2 tablespoons of Olive Oil
add the onions
sprinkle with chili powder, cumin, ginger and ground cinnamon to taste
Once the onions are translucent, (a few minutes later), add all ingredients EXCEPT the beer.
Mix everything together, by stirring thoroughly.
Once ingredients are evenly mixed... add 2 tablespoons brown sugar and season to taste with more chili powder, cumin, ginger, and ground cinnamon.
Let simmer for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally
After allowing the chili to simmer for awhile, add 3/4 of the bottle of beer
Again, season to taste... and now would be a good time to add tabasco if you'd like.
Allow chili to simmer for 2 - 3 hours or until vegetables (especially the carrots) are tender.
Stir occasionally while simmering.
Also, keep taste testing the chili and adding seasoning to taste. I added more brown sugar, cinnamon and chili powder throughout the simmering time... and it turned out so yummy!
When you serve the chili, scoop it into a deep bowl, sprinkle some shredded cheese on top and enjoy it with tortilla chips!
I LOVED this chili. I know that sounds a bit narcissistic since I made it... but it was so yummy. And, if you don't want to take my word for it... take Casper's... he loved it as well.
Honestly, I was a bit nervous that Casper would not like this because he does enjoy meaty meals... but he said it was the best chili he'd ever had. Although there was no meat, it was hearty and robust and extremely filling.
Needless to say, we had chili leftovers for days to come and never got sick of it!
hope you enjoy!