December 24, 2008

Ken's delectable chili

I remember in years past when everyone was longingly whimpering about wanting a white Christmas. "Oh why can't we have a little snow," they would moan. Not this year. This year the talk is all about canceled plans, anticipated visits that were postponed or not happening, worries about travel. And questions about where to put the snow that continues to fall with abandon. It's beautiful but it's enough. This is our second year of what feels like the Snow Olympics — and I fear we are going to break records again. We've so far had 36 inches in December. Yay for us. We should get a medal or something.

So what's the perfect food for freezing, blustery snow-filled days? Of course the answer is chili. (Or is the answer chocolate? Maybe I'm confused.) Even the sound of the name kind of fits the season. But EVERYONE already has a recipe for the "best chili in the world," don't they? What possible reason could there be for hurling another one into the blogosphere? That's what I thought when my husband made this version. I wasn't even in the mood for chili, and wasn't as excited to try it as he was to serve it. I could see it was especially pretty, with all the vegetable colors, so I took a picture or two, but really didn't expect to post about it—too overdone. But the taste was so exuberant it surprised me. The second time he made it convinced me that it was a worthy addition to the chili repertoire. It has a lot of ingredients but Ken says it's really easy to make.

So where did this terrific chili originate? Well, Ken was at the vet with our dog, Buffy. Buff was in the back having blood drawn, and Ken was in the waiting room — waiting. And waiting. Now, when I'm at the vet, I always pick up the dog magazines, but Ken's not sentimental like that. He doesn't care that Super Speedo Galactic Fido just won his 10th all-champion dog master competition. He found himself attracted to a Rachel Ray cooking magazine instead. There was a recipe for chili in there that inspired him to come home and make his own version of the dish he'd read about. Go Rachel! Maybe I should subscribe. (Just kidding.)

Perfect chili
  • two large yellow onions, chopped
  • three large cloves garlic, chopped
  • two–three celery stalks, chopped
  • two medium peeled carrots, julienned
  • three large sweet peppers (including red or yellow), chopped
  • one jalapeño pepper, chopped (optional)
  • 1/2 head cauliflower. divided into small florets
  • one can (or 1-3/4 cups home-cooked) kidney beans, drained
  • one can (or 1-3/4 cups home-cooked) pinto beans, drained
  • one can (or 1-3/4 cups home-cooked) garbanzo beans, drained
  • one 14.5 ounce can fire roasted diced tomatoes (like Muir Glen)
  • one cup frozen corn
  • one–two tablespoons good quality chili powder
  • one teaspoons dried oregano
  • one teaspoon dried basil
  • one teaspoon hot sauce
  • 1/4 cup red wine (or lemon juice, if you don't use wine)
  • about four ounces chorizo-style seitan*
  • salt to taste
  • olive oil for cooking
  1. In a large, heavy pan or dutch oven, sauté the cauliflower, onions, celery, carrots and peppers in one or two tablespoons of olive oil for a few minutes until the onions are translucent. A minute before the vegetables are done, add the garlic. (You know what I mean. Just don't burn the garlic.)
  2. Add the kidney beans, pinto beans, garbanzo beans, seitan, tomatoes and wine.
  3. Stir in the chili powder, oregano, basil and hot sauce.
  4. Add water or vegetable broth as needed for the right consistency. (And so the chili won't burn as it cooks.)
  5. Simmer for about one hour or until the cauliflower is soft and the flavors have blended.
  6. Stir in the frozen corn and heat until the corn is hot.
  7. Adjust seasonings.
We serve ours with brown rice or with crusty bread.

notes:1. *My husband bought Upton's Naturals chorizo-style seitan to use in this recipe.

2. If we don't have leftover home-cooked beans, we use canned beans with no salt added. The cheapest beans we've found are the 365 brand at Whole Foods. The no-salt ones always seem to be hidden on the highest shelf!

3. Salt and spiciness are personal preferences, so add the amount that seems right for your taste. This recipe will be moderately spicy, depending on the heat in your jalapeño and chili powder.

4. I think a few fat leaves of Italian parsley or cilantro would go well with this. It needs a little dark green!



  1. Wow! With all those veggies it sure sounds like the best chili in the world.

    Sorry you're having such bad weather. I'm so glad I live in Texas.....

  2. Mmmm! Comfort food is just what I need to remedy the bad feelings that come after eating too much at Xmas dinner haha! :)

  3. Diann,
    The temperature has risen and the snow and ice we planned to chip off the sidewalk today has miraculously melted! We can relax a little until the next storm arrives.

    "Comfort food" was what I was thinking when I ate Ken's chili. It was really good. Thanks for visiting my blog!


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