A Vegan Year

Days 3 & 4: Karol Lu’s Chili

Days 03 & 04 Pic 1
After a sweltering summer that was hotter than a wombat in a grain elevator, autumn has finally arrived here in Brooklyn—and that means russety leaves, sidewalks covered in squished ginkgo (ah, that cheesy bile smell), and CHILI. When I was vegetarian my favorite chili was Karol Lu’s I Love You But I’ve Chosen Chili and happily it turns out to be easy to veganize. In fact, the only ingredient that isn’t vegan is the packet of MorningStar Crumbles (a useful lesson for us new vegans: something made by a hippie-dippie vegetarian company can still be stuffed full of milk and egg whites). I swapped the MorningStar for Beyond Meat’s Feisty Crumbles, and they worked fine (they make a less spicy version, too).

I made a couple of additional substitutions: I switched the habanero pepper for a poblano, as that’s what I had on hand—and, because poblanos are less spicy, I added a second jalapeño. And I didn’t have any chipotle chili powder, so I added a little extra of the ancho. This recipe is pretty forgiving, and you can chuck in as much or as little of the spicy stuff as you like; following the recipe to the letter will give you a fairly hot chili, so dial it back if that makes you nervous. When I have vegemite on hand, I like to be a patriotic New Zealander and add a couple of tablespoons to the mix for extra yeasty goodness.

This recipe works well in a slow cooker, although it’s a good idea to sauté some of the vegetables first, as it will give your chili a more balanced, slightly sweeter flavor than if you simply dumped everything in the slow cooker. I sautéed the garlic, jalapeños, poblano, onion, red and yellow peppers, and sweet potato, then mixed the chili powders with water, added this to the pan, and cooked everything for a few minutes more until the sweet potatoes were just starting to get soft. Then I added this to the slow cooker along with all the other ingredients (tomatoes, beans, crumbles, beer, and corn meal), and let everything simmer away on low for about 4 hours. End result: a healthy, delicious, flavorful chili—and heaps of it. Rob and I ate this for dinner two nights in a row, and still had enough left over for lunch.

Days 03 & 04 Pic 2

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