Vegetarian (or Not) Chili

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It was all cloudy and gloomy today (my favorite kind of day), so I decided I needed a big ol’ pot o’ chili.  Not wanted – needed.  However, I was seriously meat-deficient.  And I don’t like beans in my chili.  And I had no intention of going to the grocery store on a Sunday afternoon to play “dodge-the-after-church-crowd” – I’d rather put my eyes out with a shrimp fork.

So, after consulting several cookbooks, and my own standard chili recipe, and a couple on the web, and my mother, I pulled a bunch of stuff out of the fridge/freezer and set out to create kitchen alchemy.  And, for once, I managed to turn raw ingredients into gold.

Vegetarian (or not) Chili

* 1 T oil
* 1 medium-ish sweet onion, diced finely
* 1 roasted red pepper from a jar, also diced finely
* 3 (or more) chipotle peppers from a can, diced (you guessed it) finely, and maybe some of the adobo, too
* 3-4 cloves of garlic, chopped/smashed/crushed, whatever floats your boat
* 1 block tempeh, crumbled (or 1 block of tofu, frozen and thawed, crumbled, or a half-pound or so of ground meat, browned)
* 1 (15-oz) can diced tomatoes, UNdrained (I used fire-roasted because I had them, but I wouldn’t lose any sleep if I only had regular)
* 3 small zucchini, diced finely (a scant pound)
* 2 T cumin seeds, toasted and laboriously ground in a mortar-and-pestle because your coffee grinder has been out of commission since your dog chewed on the cord a couple of years ago when she was a teething puppy
* 3 T dried oregano
* 2 T chili powder
* 1/8 t cinnamon
* pepper
* 2 C broth of choice
* 1/4 cup masa harina, dissolved in 1 C water or broth (cornmeal would work here, too)
* 1 short (8-oz) can crushed pineapple
* 1/2 C catsup or chili sauce (not hot sauce)

* In a tallish soup pot over medium-ish heat, heat the oil, and saute the onion fairly slowly, until it begins to brown and stick to the bottom of the pan.
* Add the red pepper, chipotles, garlic, protein of choice, and zucchini, and stir until well mixed.
* Add the tomatoes, broth, and seasonings.  Bring to a boil, then cover, reduce heat, and simmer over very low heat for about half an hour.
* When all the vegetables are suitably softened, and the flavors have mellowed, raise the heat and add the masa-broth mixture and allow everything to thicken.
* When the proper texture is achieved, add the pineapple and the catsup.
* Enjoy, possibly with the addition of a little sharp cheddar.

I would estimate 4 generous servings, maybe with leftovers (I live alone, so its hard to tell).

Update: the leftovers made excellent chili-mac with the addition of some melty cheese on top.  However, if you’re making the chili and don’t plan to have it consumed in one sitting, I would reconsider the pineapple — it still tasted great and gave a nice sweet-tart accent to the background, but it developed kind of a weird texture.  It could have been the cut-rate pineapple I was using, though.

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