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It’s a Chili Party!

January 25, 2008

Chili stuff

Crystal has been waiting patiently all week for me to write about the second annual (third?) chili party, which was held last Saturday night. I apologize for the delay, but I got pretty wretchedly sick this week and could barely figure out how to type, let alone think of something interesting to say about chili. I also realized that I never bothered to take a picture of the final product, because I was too busy setting out dishes of cotija and making guacamole and cleaning the living room, which no one even went into anyway. That’s really ok, though, because my chili pretty much always looks the same, so you can just check out the pictures from the last time I made chili and you’re good to go.

To be honest, my chili wasn’t even the star of the show. Mr. X made an awesome pulled pork chili, and Laurent and Jen showed up with venison chili (!) accompanied by homemade biscuit bowls (!!) and toasted cumin crema (!!!). It was all marvelous.

The chili party is a favorite winter-in-Boston event for me. When it is 17 degrees outside, it’s good to eat a bunch of really, really spicy food to warm you up from the inside. Add beer to that, and you barely even need a coat anymore. What I found amusing, though, was that the native Bostonians couldn’t handle the heat. They said they were unaccustomed to such spicy chili, were used to their bland canned Hormel. Here’s hoping that experiencing some seriously spicy chili made them all realize how much better it makes those winter months.

My chili recipe doesn’t really change that much at the foundations, only some little tweaks and experiments here and there each time. This time I actually added chilis for the first time. Huh? Yeah, mostly I just use chili powder, but I decided to up the ante this time with these:


I don’t even know what kind of chilis they are; the sign at the grocery store just said chili peppers. I suspect they aren’t too hot, because the chili wasn’t too much different from the norm. The only other new addition was turmeric.

And the secret ingredient I always add? The ingredient that gives a nice smoky zing to vegetarian chili? A cup of brewed coffee.

a winning combination

Yup, seriously. Coffee.

Laura’s Standard Vegetarian Chili Recipe

This is a really basic recipe that can be fussed with as much as you want, really. Add spices, take out spices, use different beans. It’s a nice foundation for all the fancy curlicues you might want to add. (Curlicues? I think my brain is still addled from the cold medicine.)

  • about 1-2 T. olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 fresh chilis (whatever kind you want, I think), de-seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • about 1 1/2 c. sliced carrots (yeah! Carrots!)
  • 2 chipotle chilis, chopped with a bit of the adobo sauce
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. cayenne
  • 1 tsp. turmeric
  • 1 tsp. dried cilantro
  • 1 T. cumin
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 c. coffee
  • 1 28-ounce can kidney beans
  • 1 14-ounce can pinto beans
  • 1 14-ounce can small red beans

Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot. Add the onions and garlic and saute for a few minutes, until the onions start to turn a bit golden and translucent. Add the chilis and saute for another two or three minutes, until they start to soften. Add the bell peppers and carrots, stir everything together well, and saute for another few minutes. Then add the spices and stir well to combine and coat all the stuff in the pot with the spicy goodness. Add the coffee and mix it all up to kind of de-glaze the pot. Add the tomatoes and the beans, and stir it all together well. Add perhaps a bit more salt and pepper, then cover the pot and let it cook over low heat for at least 30 minutes. Mine sat on the very very lowest heat for about 4 hours. The good thing about chili is that you can leave it alone for as long as you need, or you can make it ahead of time and put the pot in the refrigerator, ready to reheat at a moment’s notice.

I suspect the other chili versions at the party required a great deal more preparation and labor, but I believe chili is meant to be painless. I did, however, realize that I’ve never made chili with meat in it. So as soon as we’re all done with the insane amounts of leftover chili in the refrigerator, and have recovered from eating so damn much chili, I’ll be experimenting with some new recipes. I think it might be time for a change.

A non-chili related aside: Congrats to two of my favorite, favorite bloggers who were nominated for Bloggies this year: Smitten Kitchen and the Pioneer Woman!  You are both constant inspirations to me and I’m keeping my fingers crossed for you! Whoo! Who doesn’t love an awards show? (Ok, I guess there’s really no red carpet or fancy evenings gowns involved in the Bloggies, but I can pretend, right?)

6 Comments leave one →
  1. Mom permalink
    January 25, 2008 10:40 pm

    Sounds better than the roasted red pepper tomato soup and grilled swiss on rosemary/olive oil bread we had. Can you guess that Patrick wasn’t home to cook for us.
    Dad and I will be quite pathetic in the kitchen when he’s gone. (But I think I’m ready to give it a try!).

  2. crystalbrooke permalink
    January 26, 2008 3:26 pm

    Finally!! Isn’t the cumin crema that Laurent makes heavenly??? I’m SO bummed that I’m thousands of miles away–the winter chili party is my favorite!!

  3. Gramma Jeri permalink
    January 29, 2008 3:40 pm

    Hi Laura, a quick note to say”it sounds delicious” I seem to always make mine with meat so I will have to try the vegetarin chili. Hope you are staying warm; it is sooo cold here. Gramma

  4. J.Sum permalink
    November 2, 2008 4:00 pm

    Just stumbled across this entry while looking for good ideas for my own chili party! I just moved to San Diego from cold Philly, so we know our chilis down here. The big green one is an Anaheim pepper, and the red is a cherry pepper. Both are relatively mild, ranking below the jalapeno on the scoville scale. And yay for crema cumin! I put it on my black bean soup. Fun blog!

  5. J.Sum permalink
    November 2, 2008 4:11 pm

    Oops! Not Anaheim, I meant Poblano!


  1. 3rd Annual Cold Weather Chili Party « The Kitchen Illiterate

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