Sunday, January 30, 2011

Warm Food for Winter: Chili Cornbread Casserole

chili with cornbread

I almost never make chili. Not because I don't like it. On the contrary, beans and tomatoes are some of my favourite things. Vegan chili, however, is one of those dishes that gets over-eaten. It is trotted out at every vegan potluck or dinner party. It's what new vegans first learn to make (and make again, and make again) after deciding to get down with the plant based lifestyle.

(It's kind of the vegetarian lasagna of the vegan world. Did anyone else experience this when still dwelling in Lacto-ovo Land? All of my former boyfriends had well-meaning meat-eating mothers who would buy a frozen vegetarian lasagna for me whenever I came over for dinner. At least they tried, but holy, did I ever grow to hate vegetarian lasagna. Hate! It!)

So yeah, I don't often make vegan chili. However, as our lives settled down and we got over The San Franciscan Plague, I started having visions of a hearty chili, topped with a layer of cornbread. I wrote the idea down on my weekly menu plan and put it off until Saturday night when I had time to skin and chop a bunch of tomatoes*.

And wow! Did this ever turn out well! It was so warming and tasty and ultimately very easy to make. And, as if that wasn't enough, the leftovers tasted even better when I had them for lunch the next day. Bonus. Also, the cornbread is very soft and fluffy, which I liked because dense, grainy cornbread has never been my thing. You know, because I'm not crazy.

chili with cornbread

Chili Cornbread Casserole

For the chili:

1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 rib of celery, chopped
1/2 yellow pepper, chopped
1/2 red pepper, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tbsp chili powder
6-8 roma tomatoes, skins removed, coarsely chopped
1 bottle of beer
1/2 cup corn
1 1/2 cups cooked (or canned) black beans
1/2 cup cooked (or canned) chickpeas
salt and pepper to taste

For the cornbread:

2 tablespoons ground flax seeds
6 tablespoons water
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup cornmeal
3 tbsp sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon table salt
1 cup soymilk
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup canola oil

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

This recipe is going to be one million times easier if you have a cast iron dutch oven or some other kind of large pot that works on the stove top AND in the oven. Otherwise, you're going to have to switch from a stove top pan to an oven-safe casserole dish. Totally doable, but if you're lazy like me you'll prefer to just use the one pot for the whole recipe.

In a large pot on the stove top heat the oil over medium heat then add the onions, celery, and carrot. Let cook, stirring occasionally, for 8-10 minutes, or until vegetables are tender.

Add peppers and garlic, cook for five more minutes.

Add chili powder, tomatoes, and beer. Let cook for five more minutes, or until mixture is bubbling.

Add beans, chickpeas, corn, and salt and pepper. Turn heat down to low.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Set aside

Mix ground flax seeds with water and let sit for a minutes. Add vinegar to soymillk to "sour" it.

Add the flax seed mixture, soy milk, and canola oil to the flour mixture and stir just to combine.

Switch chili to an oven safe dish if you need to.

Spoon cornbread batter on top of chili. It's going to sink into the chili. Don't freak out, it will rise up as it bakes.

Place dish, uncovered, in oven and let cook for 25-30 minutes, or until a knife in the centre of the cornbread comes out clean.

Serves 6-8 people. For real. This makes a ton.

chili with cornbread

*My mother told me all about a book she read which explained how we're all going to die from the chemicals lining cans of food, so I've been effectively cured of canned tomatoes and beans.


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Esen said...

This looks DELICIOUS. Can't wait to try it!


KarmaLily said...

I love cornbread baked on top of chili! My boyfriend has a cast iron dutch oven and we make this over a fire in his backyard sometimes.

Fanny said...

I'm not a huge fan of chili, but you kind of made me wanting it now...

Birdie said...

Sounds delicious... I can't get enough soup and chili when it's cold outside. Can't wait to try this one out! (Maybe I can use it as an excuse to get a dutch oven;)

Glad you guys are feeling better!

PS What's the name of the book your mom read?

Jennifer (It Ain't Meat, Babe) said...

Birdie: I think the book was called Slow Death By Rubber Duck. I'm not sure who the author was. It certainly made a big impression on my parents!

Sarah B @ Bake + Bike said...

SO TRUE about the vegetarian lasagna...haha. Somehow I still enjoy it, though.

Baking the cornbread atop the chili is a super idea. Looks muy delicioso.

Sarah S. said...

I am not sick of chili yet, but maybe that's because I've only been vegan for a year ;)

That has to be the most tempting looking crust on cornbread I have ever seen. So dreamy and fluffy too! Perfect excuse to bust out my new dutch oven.

Jennifer (It Ain't Meat, Babe) said...

Sarah S. I saw your chili post today, too! It looked great. What an awesome idea. Sorry that your team lost, though.

Maggie Muggins said...

The only time I'll make chili now is if it sounds like an interesting recipe, either that or if I need an excuse to eat cornbread....and I think I'm sensing a cornbread craving coming on.

T said...

Chili is kind of tricky... there are two many versions to choose from among vegans, and its omnipresent at potlucks and the like. However, this version looks simple and delish! I also like fluffy cornbread, yum.

Alli said...

SOOOOO I couldn't hold off for even a day - unlike the lasagne experience, I haven't been bombarded with chili bowls since I joined the vegan world 4 years ago... so,VERY pumped about the chili- pics helped.. Made it last night and WOW- SUPER good!! Used whole wheat for the corn bread, added cumin, corriander, paprika and about a tbsp of maple syrop to the chili- yummmy. Plus, that was very fluffy and luscious corn bread. Thanks great dinner!!!

Jennifer (It Ain't Meat, Babe) said...

Wow! Thanks for letting me know, Alli! I love to hear about my recipes getting made and enjoyed. Love the idea of extra spices in the chili. Hooray!

Caitlin said...

that cornbread looks DELICIOUS!

ALLI said...

Honestly, found your blog about 4 months ago and check it regularly -good food, good reading, PLUS you're from Ottawa (me too)...But, I confess, this was the first meal I actually tried to make - maybe even seasoned vegans need a easy do-able pot of chili once in a while :)

Anonymous said...

Okay, question: Can I make the chili without the bread? How long should I let it simmer then?

Thank you so much!

Fame Throwa said...

I wish more recipe books would insert, when appropriate, the instruction "Don't freak out". Would save me a lot of stress. :)

Jennifer (It Ain't Meat, Babe) said...

Anon: You can let it simmer for the same amount of time, covered, over med-low heat. The good thing about vegetarian recipes is that you won't die if they aren't cooked enough, so I'd just experiment and see how it tastes. If you don't like it, you can let it simmer longer!

Fame Throwa: As someone who freaks out easily if something appears to not be working in the kitchen, I feel it's my duty to add those helpful notes! :)

candace said...

Made this tonight! Reaaaaally really good :) I added some cumin and chopped jalapeños to the recipe. My boyfriend is onto seconds now...
Thanks for the recipe, much different than the chili I usually make! The cornbread is awesome!

Unknown said...

Hot diggity, my eyes filled with happy tears just taking in this whole post. Ungf! *that was a noise* I just wanna add lime zest and cilantro all up in that cornbread! But I rarely ever cook for more than 2 people at a time so if I cut the recipe in half would the baking time still be the same? Normally I'd be able to work it out on my own but I've never made a casseroley concoction like this before.