My dad and brothers are die hard New York Jets fans and they’ve been season ticket holders for as long as I can remember. Because they’re such big fans, I’m also a Jets fan, by default, and although I may not actually admit this in public, I do know (mostly) how the games work, and kind of enjoy watching them, too, when I can. I like the quick pace, the gnarliness, and the relatively short season. I also enjoy the food generally associated with football; Beer, nachos, guacamole, and chili come to mind when I think of it, and I love all those things, so if watching football is a chance for me to partake in it, then count me in.
Despite having to put up with seemingly endless Jets losses, my family is still devoted to the team and while I wish the Jets were heading to Indianapolis on Sunday, I’m still really glad the other New York team will be there. (And so is my grandfather who wears head to toe Giants gear while watching every game, and who said that he was “flying 35,000 feet in the air” after the win against the 49ers last week. He is so cute.)
To be honest, though, the Superbowl is never my favorite thing to watch since the New York teams are rarely playing. The only reason I’m interested in the the game at all is for the excuse to drink booze and eat chips and chili, and I very much like it that way.
Vegetarian chili, one of my favorite game day foods, often gets a bad reputation. For purists who think that chili with beans or without meat isn’t actually chili, they scoff at the thought that the photo above pictures anything besides a thick soup with beans and vegetables. For me, though, vegetarian chili like this is exactly what I enjoy eating while watching football or old ER episodes (my favorite show, EVER) or nothing at all. It’s the kind of stuff that makes a bad day better as it simmers away on the stove, emitting aromas of chili powder and cumin throughout the house, slowly and effortlessly stewing and becoming more vibrant, deep, and mysterious with every minute. That’s the kind of thing I call chili and crave all winter as I lounge around in my thick sweaters, feeling perpetually cold, craving something that exudes warmth.
This recipe was derived from a version of chili I used to make a while ago ago when I still lived at home. I don’t remember where the recipe was from, but I pretty much memorized what was in it and knew exactly what I wanted to add to it to make it “mine.” A fresh cup of hot, strong coffee and a lot of extra spices along with some roasted frozen corn (a la Trader Joe’s) fit perfectly into the mix.
The coffee, especially, helps to deepen the chili in a way that I hadn’t been able to achieve in the homemade version before. It seems so simple, but the addition adds a touch of mystery and curious depth to the dish. I’m sure that adding a bottle of porter to the chili would have the same sort of effect, in case you’d rather try that. The chili has a great texture, too, aided by the contrast of the two types of beans, the pop of the corn, and the tenderness of the pepper, carrot, celery and onion. The end result is hearty, rich, and thick chili that’s perfect for a chilly winter evening when the darkness strikes early and the world quiets itself as night approaches. And it’s perfect for a Sunday game, too.
One Year Ago: Goat Cheese Ravioli
Yield: 4-5 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, minced
1 carrot, diced
1 stick celery, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 14-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 14-ounce can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup frozen corn
1 cup brewed coffee
1 cup water
1 28-ounce can crushed fire roasted tomatoes
1. In a large dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions, carrot, celery and bell pepper and saute for 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic, chili powder, oregano, cumin, cayenne and red pepper flakes and saute for 2-3 minutes, until fragrant.
2. Pour the fire roasted tomatoes, black beans, kidney beans, frozen corn, coffee, and water into the dutch oven, stir to combine, and season with salt and pepper. Allow the soup to come to a boil before reducing the heat, covering the pot, and allowing the chili to simmer for 1 hour, or until the flavors meld. (If you're in a huge rush, you could get away with only simmering the chili for a half hour, but an hour or more will really do the trick.)
3. After an hour, taste the soup, and add more salt and pepper if you think you need to. If the chili is too thick, add a little water to thin it. When you're ready to serve the chili, pour it into large bowls and top with cheddar cheese or sour cream and chives. Store any leftovers in an air tight container in the the refrigerator for 3 days or the freezer for up to a month.