Sunday, January 30, 2011
Warm Food for Winter: Chili Cornbread Casserole
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 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.
*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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