Matt’s Veggie Chili, Twisted
Chili is simple and comforting and one of the best things on the planet. You can experiment with it in a thousand different ways and it is extremely open-minded. It is great for summer porch days, with cold beer and buddies. It warms your belly in the winter. It feeds a crowd. It’s cheap and easy to make and it just gets better the longer it sits. Leftovers are a dream. Not much you can complain about.
Matt’s chili is one of the very first recipes I ever learned and could replicate on my own. He learned it from Mason, who learned it from his mom–we think. Anyways, it was one of those eureka cooking moments where I realized that I could do this–and actually enjoy it. It taught me the basic principals of building a stew dish: saute veggies and spices (and meat if desired), add acid (alcohol) and reduce, layer in liquids for simmering, finish off flavors and add garnishes. And voila! A life of chili love was born.
I’ve since varied the recipe a bit–thus the “twist”–so the roasted peppers and cocoa are my additions. This is my basic version. Sometimes things change. I like to improvise.
2 green peppers
2 poblano peppers
1 medium yellow onion
3 cloves of garlic
1 T. cumin seed
1 tsp. cayenne (depending on your spiciness quotient)
1 c. of white wine
1 large (16 oz.) can diced tomatoes
3 (8 oz.) cans beans (I like to use a melange of pinto, black, and kidney)
1 T. cocoa powder
Heat oven to 500 degrees. Rub peppers with canola oil and place on baking sheet in the oven. Let them roast until blackened on each side, about 10 minutes. Flip at least once during the cooking.
Transfer the peppers to plastic ziplock bags or a bowl that you cover with plastic wrap. This steams the peppers and lets them cool. Let them sit about 15 minutes, then gently peel the outside, charred skin with your fingers and perhaps a butter knife. Destem, deseed (unless you like it very spicy), and dice.
Heat oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add garlic, onions, cumin seed, salt, pepper, and cayenne, and cook for 3 minutes. Add the roasted peppers and continue to cook until the onions are soft and translucent.
Add the white wine and let reduce by half. *Variation: I often use a lager beer instead of wine. When I do, I add it at the same time as the other liquids. This time, I had the wine on hand and the result was very good. But beer also works well.
Add the can of tomatoes. Drain two cans of beans and pour the beans into the pot. Pour the entire contents of the third can into the pot. Cook until bubbling (not boiling), then reduce heat to low. Add cocoa. Simmer for about an hour, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. When the texture becomes thick and a deep umber color, then the chili is ready. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Serve with cilantro, shredded cheese, scallions, and sour cream. Oh, and corn bread. Of course.