I've made vegetarian chili before. I simply followed a traditional meat-filled recipe and left out the meat. Good, but definitely not worth blogging about. That was before I had my secret ingredient: Rancho Gordo Beans.
If you haven't heard of Rancho Gordo Beans and you love beans (or even like them...you'll probably love them after you try them) please go check them out! They are out of Napa, and provide the most wonderful product - Heirloom beans from Mexico and Central America. "The Rancho Gordo Story" provides a great read on the company's history and philosophy.
"American cuisine seems to be in a position of re-inventing itself and I'd love to include ingredients, traditions and recipes from south of the border as part of the equation. I love the concept of The Americas. I feel as if it's just as important as the European heritage many of us share." - Steve Sando, Founder of Rancho GordoI love that.
Ok, on to my recipe. Enjoy!
Vegetarian Chili (w/ Rancho Gordo Ayocote Morado Beans)
1/2 lb of Ayocote Morado (Purple Runner Beans), rinsed and sorted (BUY here)
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 carrots, diced
1 onion, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
2 cups canned diced tomatoes
2 bay leaves
1 tsp oregano
1 Tbsp Chili powder (more for spicier, less for milder)
1 tsp Chipotle powder (more for spicier, less for milder)
Soak beans in water a large stock pot in water for approximately 2 hours (or until they double in size and soften a bit.) Make a mirepoix with the carrots, onions and celery. (This just basically means you saute the ingredients together with a little olive oil and cook until softened.) Once the beans are soaked, add the mirepoix, canned tomatoes, bay leaves and oregano to the stock pot. Turn on the heat to medium-low and simmer away for a couple of hours. You may need to add more water periodically, depending on how much water the beans were soaking in. The amount of water and the cooking time will determine how thick or thin your chili will be.
Near the end of the cooking process, add the chili powder, chipotle and salt and pepper to taste. (I stick a spoon in every once in awhile to taste the beans for doneness.) You may want to add the chili powder and chipotle in gradually to adjust for your personal spicy meter. I like things on the spicy side, so these proportions might have a bit too much bite for some of you.
Then - and this is the trick to giving the chili a more meaty texture - mash up about half the beans with a potato masher. Simmer for another 15 minutes or so, and adjust the seasonings, if necessary.
Serve with warm tortillas or tortilla chips and top with fresh avocado and cotija cheese.
(And I just have to say, for my dad and Uncle Mike...Go Packers!!!!)