Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Annual Chili and Beer War Submission for 2014

The 8th Annual Connell Chili and Beer War was yet another unqualified success. A great time was had by all. Every time I go, I make new friends and feel so welcome and happy. I told my lovely hostess this is one of those events where I sometimes lament about not eating meat. As I look around at all of the simmering creations in the crock pots, I am amazed at all of the creative culinary definitions of chili. My friend and hostess was so considerate. She made a vegan chile so that we could experience more than one of the entries. It was really awesome, chunks of hearty vegetables, beans and soooooo much flavor.

Mr. Host is a beer aficionado. He has probably done the beer tour at OC many times. He shared some fun brews with the crowd by serving tastings of several unique microbrews. I was pleasantly surprised by a pumpkin ale he offered. Nothing better than excellent beer with hot chile!

Our chili was pretty well received. The flavor was rich and smokey. When I discussed it with the prior year's champion (and third place winner this year), she suggested that while it had very good flavor, it needed more texture. I concur, so I made some slight adjustment in the recipe below to add beans for more texture.  I used the DePuy or French lentils because A) I had a small amount left in the pantry and B) they are the type of lentils that stay more firm when cooked for long periods of time. I love the smokiness of the paprika and chipotle in this. I hope you do to! This a a pretty spicy chili. If you are more delicate, reduce the amount of jalapeños by half and use a milder chile powder.

Smoky Red Hot Chili

1 cup french lentils (DePuy)
2 1/4 cup water
1 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 large pasilla chile pepper, diced
3 medium jalapeños, minced
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon hot chile powder
1 tablespoon oregano
1/2 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon cumin
1teaspoon chipotle powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup vegan brown or red ale beer
1-15 oz. can fired roasted crushed tomatoes
1-15 oz. can fire roasted diced tomatoes
1-8 oz can El Pato Salsa de Chile Fresco
1-6 oz can tomato paste
3 cups vegetable broth
2 bay leaves
1 cup organic textured vegetable protein (TVP)
1 - 15 oz can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained

In a medium sized saucepan add lentils and water. Bring to a boil. Turn heat to low and simmer for 25-35 minutes until lentils are tender (they will still be somewhat firm).

In a large stock pot over medium heat add oil then onions and fresh peppers. Saute until softened and onions are translucent, about 7-10 minutes. If mixture starts to stick, add a little water Add garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add chile powder, oregano, cocoa, smoked paprika, cumin, chipotle powder and salt. Sauté until just fragrant, about 1 minute. Deglaze with beer and simmer for about 2 more minutes. Add crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, El Pato, tomato paste, vegetable broth and bay leaves. Combine well. Stir in TVP and beans. Let simmer for at least and hour to let those flavors develop.

Serve with diced green onions and vegan sour cream if desired. Oh and corn bread is a natural for this chili!

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