Smash Truck Vegetarian Chili
First-prize winner for Best Veggie Chili at the 2015 Great Downtown Ithaca Chili Cook-off
By Brandon Fortenberry
Some pro tips before you get started: If you want to get more flavor out of your spices, use whole spices and toast and grind them yourself; Also, try making your own vegetable stock. It’s easy, just 2 parts onions, 1 part celery, 1 part carrots and add some of your other vegetable trimmings to a pot with water and simmer for 45 minutes. Make this in advance, and then use dried beans instead of canned which, in this recipe, would call for 8 ounces of dried beans soaked overnight in 3 cups of stock, and cooked for 60–90 minutes at a very slow simmer until tender. If you do this, just add the cooked beans and their cooking liquid in substitution of the stock and canned beans in the recipe.
For the chili:2 tablespoons of oil 2 large onions, chopped 12-16 ounces of dark beer 4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced 2 red bell peppers 1 green bell pepper 1-2 tablespoons of chili powder (depending on your spice preference) 2 teaspoons of cumin 1 teaspoon of coriander 2 tablespoons of sugar 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar 6 ounces of tomato paste 29 ounces can of crushed tomatoes 2 cups of vegetable stock 15-ounce can of black beans 15-punce can of kidney beans ¼ cup of flour ¼ cup of canola or other neutral oil Salt to taste
For the fried onions:1 onion, sliced thin 1 tablespoon of salt 1 cup of flour Oil for frying
For the bacon sour cream:6 ounces of cour cream 4 Slices of pork or tempeh bacon Dash of chili powder
Sauté the chopped onions in oil and a dash of salt on high heat until translucent until they begin to caramelize in the pan. Add half of the beer and continue to cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally until the beer has evaporated and the onions begin to caramelize in the pan.
Roast the peppers over an open flame or on in the broiler until the skins turn black. Pull the peppers out of the flame, and place in a plastic or wooden bowl and cover with plastic wrap and allow to steam for 10 minutes.
Once the onions have begun to caramelize and brown again, add the minced garlic. Continue to caramelize the onions and garlic over medium heat, your goal is for these to be a dark brown, but not burnt.
Once you have this beautiful caramelized onion and garlic mixture, add the spices, sugar and vinegar. Sauté this for a few minutes.
Remove most of the blackened skins on the roasted peppers, remove the stems and seeds, and then chop these. They should be quite soft and easy to chop. Add them to the chili. Add the crushed and paste tomatoes, and the remainder of the beer and stir constantly until the mixture begins to bubble when you stop stirring. Add the stock and beans to the mixture.
Taste the chili and add half as much salt as you think it needs at this point (you will add more later). Allow the chili to simmer on very low heat for 1 hour stirring regularly. Taste the chili again, and add salt to taste. For best results, make it the day before, and then reheat.
Make the fried onions: Place the onions in a large bowl and salt them. Mix the onions with the salt, and allow them to sweat for a few minutes. Pour all of the flour over the onions and mix. Remove the onions from the flour mixture and shake them to remove excess flour. Fry in 375º oil for 3 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oil and allow them to drain on a paper towel.
Make the bacon sour cream: Cook the bacon to crispiness. Crumble the bacon and add to the sour cream. Add a dash of chili powder for some extra kick
Serve the chili in your favorite bowl topped with fried onions and bacon sour cream and revel in your awesomeness!
Photos by Ryan Kehoe