simple veggie chili + jalapeño grit cakes

O.K.  Chili can be a touchy subject.  Some reject the idea that meatless chili can even be considered chili, and everybody and their brother has a winning recipe. I happen to love chili in many forms, but I do have an issue with the notion that chili is a one pot wonder.  You know what I mean.  We all know that guy who throws every manner of spice and ingredient into the pot.  Ketchup! Soy Sauce!  Ghost Chili! Pineapple! Cashews! Oats! Corn! You get the idea.

I understand how much fun it can be to experiment in the kitchen, but the unfortunate thing about kitchen sink chili is that all of the good things about it are lost. Combining random ingredients and spices and cooking indefinitely just results in a muddy flavor.  But, it doesn't have to be so complicated.  Sometimes, simple is good, not to mention easy.

This recipe came from that idea. A quick Sunday afternoon meal that was satisfying, delicious and healthy.  All the components are stripped down and basic to avoid any confusion about the flavors. Together they make something special.

Grit Cakes

  • 2 cups corn meal, or grits
  • 6 cups of veggie stock-make sure you like the flavor because it will determine the flavor of the grit cakes
  • 1-2 tablespoons of minced jalapeno

Combine corn meal and stock and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer.  Stir occasionally until thickened, about 5-10 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in jalapeno.  
Grease a 9x13 pan and fill with grits. Smooth the top and cool until room temp.  
Before serving, cut into circles with a ring cutter.  In a medium saute pan heat a few tablespoons of oil.  Brown grit cakes on both sides. Set aside.

 Veggie Chili 

  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 cup sweet pepper, diced
  • 1-2 jalapenos, minced (optional)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 # dried, cooked beans or 3 cans rinsed and drained
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

In large saucepan, heat olive oil over medium-low heat. Add onion sweet pepper, and hot pepper (if using) and cook for 10 minutes.  Watch closely to ensure they don't burn.
Add chili powder and cumin and cook for a minute, stirring constantly.
Add tomatoes, garlic, salt, oregano, paprika, vinegar and water and beans.  Cook until reduced by half. Season to taste.

Additional Ingredients

  • goat cheese
  • cilantro
  • minced jalapeno
  • minced onion
  • hot sauce.  I left the hot peppers out for the boys.  It definitely needs the kick.