Nov 15, 2006

The Better Bowl: Chili.

Damn! I can't believe the first actually really good vegetarian chili that I've had in I don't know how long was actually served at my law school cafeteria! It has the following criteria that I've found profoundly lacking in all the other chilies I've tried (including places that are supposed to specialize in this stuff):

1) Spicy. It has a kick, without my having to add anything. There's nothing worse than bland chili. Why make chili at all if it's going to be bland. Of course there are limits that you have to maintain so that it's more than the one or two folks with steel stomachs who can actually eat the chili. But if I can't find hot sauce (like today) I would like to have some chili that has its own flavor. This one did that - and did it very well.

2) Tender vegetables that are mixed together into a uniform taste. This chili has obviously been cooked for a long time - the onions are very tender, the tomatoes are soft, and though there aren't too many other vegetables, the beans seem thoroughly cooked as well.

3) Hearty. If I wanted a moist mix of vegetables, I would get vegetable soup. Chili should have a texture and taste that permeates the whole dish. It has to be hearty - I think that this one has crumbled veggie burgers in it as the beef substitute - which kind of works (definitely better than the Textured Veggie Protein that I get in other chilies, which just has a rubbery texture). I guess I would pick a burger that's a little more amenable to this taste - something like Spicy Black Bean burgers from Morningstar Farms.

Anyway - I know that it's odd to have a discussion of veggie chili in what is supposed to be some kind of brown power site (whatever) but hell, if folks can navel-gaze endlessly about the contents of their pockets or whatnot, then the search for a perfect vegetarian chili isn't so far off the mark. I have to give another shout-out right here - my cousin, who's an amazing cook, makes a mean, bad-ass chili. I have to get her recipe.


amanda said...

if you haven't already, you must try the veggie chili cheese fries at ben's. stupendous. especially after a long night of drinking.

Rage said...

Thanks. Don't think I've been to Ben's. Will have to check it out next time I'm in your town.