Welcome to another new series here on The Fainting Goat Blog, What I Eat. When I tell people that I’m a celiac so I can’t gluten, meaning no wheat, barley, rye, anything with malt, most oats, and most processed foods, often their eyes get really big and they start asking questions like, what about pasta?, no bread?, what about regular flour (as opposed to whole wheat)? Then I tell them that I’m also a sometimes vegan*, meaning no meat, no dairy, no cheese, no edible animal products at all, first they just look at me like I’m crazy. Then, every time, without fail, they ask the same question: Well, what CAN you eat? This is my response…
There is something about fallen leaves and brisk autumn air that makes my body crave comfort food. Warm, hot, bubbly, rich dinners that warm my old, cold house with their spicy smells. Living in the South though, most comfort foods are full of gluten, cheese, and pork… and off limits to me. In the 5 years that I’ve been gluten-free, I’ve learned how to get around the gluten with much success. Now that I’m also a sometimes vegan though, things are getting a little more tricky.
This week I reworked one of my favorite Rachel Ray recipes into what is quite possible the best pot of chili I have ever made. She actually has a recipe for vegetarian chili that I make a lot that is also vegan, but I found some gluten-free chorizo “sausage” at Trader Joe’s last week so I thought I would give this one a try. I don’t eat fake meat usually, partly because most of it contains gluten and partly because it tastes horrible, but this sausage was the perfect addition to this recipe remix.
The original recipe calls for both chorizo and ground chicken. I decided to substitute gently smashed black beans for the chicken, to try and mimic the small crumble size. Turns out it wasn’t necessary though; once I took the chorizo out of the casing it crumbled up just like ground meat. The beans did add to the consistency though, so I’d definitely add them again next time.
Vegan Chorizo Chili
Adapted from Rachel Ray’s Chicken and Chorizo Chili
What you need:
1 package gluten-free soy chorizo, removed from casing and crumbled or chopped
1 can of black beans, gently mashed with a fork
1 green or red bell pepper, chopped
1 onion, chopped
3 garlic, cloves, minced
3 tablespoons ground cumin ( I LOVE cumin!!)
2-3 tablespoons chili powder
1 can dark red kidney beans, rinsed and drained*
2 bottles Strongbow hard cider
2 14oz cans fire-roasted tomatoes, diced, drained
First, open one of the bottles of Strongbow and take a nice long drink. You will want to do this periodically throughout the cooking process; it’s that good. Next, in a big pot over med-high heat, add chorizo to a little bit of extra-virgin olive oil and break apart with spoon. Cook for 1-2 minutes then add black beans. Cook for 2-3 minutes, to let flavors combine. Add onions, bell pepper, garlic, cumin and chili powder and kidney beans. Stir and let sizzle for 3-5 minutes. Pour in entire second bottle of Strongbow and allow to simmer for a few minutes, until liquid is reduced a bit. Add tomatoes and stir it all up. Reduce heat to medium-low and let simmer until you’re ready to eat (at least 5-10 minutes).
Now comes the fun part! There are so many ways to eat this chili! The first night, I heated up a little polenta (from the log, super quick and easy) and poured the chili over it. Last night, I was too lazy to even do that though, so I added some crushed Trader Joe’s Veggie Tortilla Chips. Then I noticed an avocado that was about to go bad in my veggie bowl so I scooped that baby in there too. AMAZING!! The chili is thick and hearty, so there are endless ways that it can be served, just use you imagination and let your taste buds guide you!
*I go through vegan phases. I’m currently in one. Since I have to eat gluten-free, I make the occasional exception for Veggie cheese (lactose-free but made with casein, a milk protein) or regular cheese or similar products when faced between a veggie enchilada or a bowl of plain lettuce at my local Mexican place. I do my best and limit my animal products to maybe once or twice a week, tops.
*If you drain and rinse you beans before you cook them, you loose that gassy effect that beans can often give you.