What is your go-to recipe when you are cooking for a group? My favorites are roast chicken and short ribs, but sometimes those dishes involve way too much time I don’t have. Plus, living in Portland means you are likely to run across a vegan, a vegetarian, and a gluten-intolerant all at the same party. Short ribs with a crusty bread just isn’t going to cut it.
I have tackled this problem in the past by making three main courses and just hoping that everyone could find something to eat. This takes a lot of time and, not to mention, money. So when Erik told me about this delicious chili recipe he stole from his friend, Brett, I was thrilled. It is easy, delicious and vegan – with some yummy toppings that will please all sorts of eaters.
This past weekend, Erik raced cyclocross – you know this sport, right? Cyclists ride mud-covered, off-camber courses that have barriers demanding you get off your bicycle and jump over, lugging your bicycle with you. It is not for wimps (like me who is really afraid of hurting myself, being yelled at by aggressive riders, and generally looking like the world’s biggest idiot.)
The best part about the races, if you are thinking about attending or joining, is the atmosphere. Tents line up along the course, cheering riders on with cowbells and obnoxious screams. There are vendors selling waffles, french fries, and sometimes, beer. This year, with the team’s new tent, we were able to bring a camp stove, chairs, and a fireplace. It is like camping, but you get to shower and sleep in your bed at night. Awesome.
In order to keep myself busy (and discourage others from encouraging me to stop being a weenie), I made this chili for a crowd of hungry racers and spectators. My only regret is that I didn’t make more.
2 Tbsp olive oil
3 cups of chopped onion (one really large or two medium)
6 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 Tbsp of cumin
2 Tbsp of chili powder
1 Tbsp of ground coriander
2 tsp of cayenne pepper (more or less for desired spice)
6 cans of beans, drained (I use a mix of kidney, black, and pinto) or 4 cups dried beans, soaked and cooked*
1 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes including juices
1/2 cup cilantro (plus more for toppings)
Salt to taste
Shredded cheddar cheese
Diced jalapeno or hot sauce
Heat olive oil on medium-low in a large, heavy-bottomed pot. Add onions and cook for 8-10 minutes, until softened but not browned. Add garlic and cook for another minute. Pour in cumin, chili powder, coriander, and cayenne and cook for about two minute. Dump in beans and tomatoes. Bring pot to a boil and then down to a simmer for about 15 minutes. Add 1/2 cup of cilantro and cook for another 5. Salt and serve with whatever toppings you choose!
*If you start with dried beans (I did this last time and kind of like them better!), first soak the beans overnight in cool water. You want to cover them with at least three times as much liquid. Next, drain the beans and place in a pot on low (or crockpot) with at least 2 inches of water covering the beans. Bring the beans to a simmer and cook for 2-4 hours, checking after the first hour for doneness. The beans should not be al dente, but also not completely broken down. I cooked mine 3/4 of the way and then finished the cooking in the chili and it worked fine. I just had to add water to my chili.