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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Chunky Chick Pea Chili

I make a pretty mean vegan chili sin carne.

I've even written about it here before (Chili Sin Carne y Tortillas)

It often varies in its components, and often includes a differing variety of legumes and beans and such.  Most are interchangeable when you're going to stew them for hours in a huge vat of spicy flavour, right?


Chick peas... damn.

So, I've had a few cans of chick peas (Garbanzo Beans) in the cupboard for a while, and decided to try adding them to the mix this time.

Bad idea.  To be fair, however, this was the only bad idea in this dish.  Otherwise, I'd say this turned out OK.

If you've read my previous posts on "chili" you'll see that the methodology is very similar to previous iterations.  Technically it can't really be called a chili if it doesn't contain meat... but for subsequent discussion, it saves me from having to say "vegan, meatless chili" if I just refer to it as "chili".

As always, when using dried legumes, make sure to rinse and soak them for quite a while.  At least 8 hours cold.  Less if you want to 'pre-cook' them.

So, I began by rinsing and soaking some black lentils and some white navy beans:

Those soaked for a good hour or two, but I sped the process along by pre-cooking them in a couple cups of water.

There's a bit of vegetable bouillon in there for flavour, but otherwise that's just water.

Then came out the chick peas.


OK, these were 'canned' so they technically didn't need to be soaked or pre-cooked.  Because I don't like the taste of the crap they can them in, however, I DID rinse them well. 

Now, I actually KNEW that they were going to be crunchier and starchier than the other ingredients, so believe it or not, I did opt to add them to the pre-cook mix ANYWAY!

The beans 'pre-cooked' for a good hour.

In this time, I prepared everything else.

I chopped quite finely, some white onion, green onion, garlic, and jalapeno.

Then, I prepared a large amount of freshly-ground cumin and a little bit of green and black pepper.

At this point, the beans were still not totally pre-cooked, so I waited a little while for that.  They were covered and simmered for some time.  Regardless, when they were done, you could tell because the beans had puffed up and no longer looked like little shriveled raisins.

I thought that this would give all the legumes in my chili a similarly uniform texture.  I thought myself clever.  I was wrong... but we'll get to that.

Anyway, those didn't really need draining, as they had absorbed all the water, so I dumped them into the slow-cooker pot, and then got to sauteing the root veggies.

Starting first with the white onion, I gradually added them in order of consistency ("thick" or "crunchy" to "thin" or "soft"). 

At this point, everything was soft and the flavours had all nicely diffused.

So into the pot everything goes.  I added a small can of tomato paste as well, and stirred it all up very well.

The chili cooked in the slow-cooker all afternoon.  Seriously, a good 5 or 6 hours, on high.    An interesting aside and something I've learned about slow-cookers.  Apparently they ALL cook at the same temperature.  The differences between 'high' and 'low' and other such misleading settings on your cooker actually refer to the speed with which they attain this temperature.  Neat, right?

Anyway, I wanted this bitch hot right away, so cranked it up to high.  Within an hour it was blipping noisily and fitfully.

Anyway, while that was simmering away, I prepared some corn tortillas as you've seen me do before.

The batter is just corn flour, salt, and water (with a few coarsely-ground cumin seeds in there too), and is very, very thin and runny.

After 'frying' up a bunch of those I was ready to just relax until supper time.

So... after seriously pre-cooking the beans, AND cooking them in the slow-cooker for many hours.  I thought the chili would be a nice smooth uniform texture.

I was wrong.

F#(%ing chick peas.

They were just way too hard and starchy.

The flavour of this was awesome, however, and still quite good to eat.  

The texture was ALL wrong for the whole tortilla medium, though, and glaring enough for me to consider this dish a fail.


Two things could have worked to make this not a fail, I think:

1) Any other bean than Garbanzo.  I've used chick peas before, and I think I even knew they were going to be a different texture than everything else... but I thought I was prepared for it...  Nope.

2) I think some smooshing or pureeing of the mixture would have done wonders.  The flavour was quite lovely, as I said, it was just those F*&(ing chick peas.  Little pellets of starch in the mix of what would have otherwise been a smooth and velvety chili.

Oh well... you live and you learn.