So, I’ll start by saying this isn’t your grand-momma’s chili. That is, unless your visionary grand-momma, threw caution—and the everyday meat-chili recipes of normal folks—to the wind, and sought out to replace the savory flavor of meat (gasp!) with equally flavorful, herbivorous ingredients. This recipe has a few surprising, secret ingredients that make it a fun alternative to the same ol’ chili you’ve had a hundred times. The special ingredients (cashews and raisins… yes, raisins) provide just the right meaty texture, so you still feel like you’re getting a good, manly bite. Absorbing the savory liquid, the cashews take on a meaty texture and the raisins become very much like soft beans. The flavor is familiar, yet slightly sweet and tangy, and beer adds a little yeasty depth. It’s a perfect way to use up those abundant garden veggies and canned tomatoes. (Of course, if you just MUST have meat, I think a little leftover shredded chicken or pork would be a great addition, and a wonderful use of extra food.)
Here’s what you’ll need:
2 T. olive oil
1 ½ c. chopped celery
1 c. chopped green bell pepper
1 c. chopped onions
1 c. chopped mushrooms, stems finely diced
1 chopped poblano pepper (about 4 inches long)
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 28-oz. cans whole plum tomatoes, smashed by hand (the fun way) or cut up
3 16-oz. cans red kidney beans (2 cans rinsed and drained; 1 not rinsed or drained)
1/2 cup raisins
12 oz. beer (I use a simple light beer, but choose what you like)
1/2 c. cashew halves and pieces, plus extra for topping
2 T. chili powder
1 T. fresh snipped parsley
2 t. salt, plus a pinch
1 ½ t. basil dried, crushed
1 ½ t. ground cumin
1 t. allspice
½ t. black pepper
1 ½ t. oregano
½ t. hot pepper sauce (like Tabasco)
¼ c. red wine vinegar
1-2 bay leaves
Shredded Swiss, cheddar, or mozzarella cheese for topping
In a large Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the celery, onion, peppers, onion, and a pinch of salt and sauté until the onions are translucent.
While your veggies are cooking, measure out all our spices into a small bowl or plate. There are a lot of them and this is a good way to keep track of what you’ve already used, before it’s dumped into the pot, thus, too late. I also put the raisins, red wine vinegar, and hot sauce into a small bowl together just so the raisins can begin to absorb the liquid.
Once the veggies are ready, I pour the sauce from the tomatoes over them, and then squeeze each tomato into the pot, breaking it apart into nice, big chunks. You can also cut them up or use a potato masher, but where’s the excitement in that? Next, add the beans, spices, raisins, vinegar, and hot sauce.
Mix everything together well and bring it to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 1 ½ to 2 hours. Then, add the beer and cashews and return to a boil. Reduce the heat, and simmer covered for another 30 minutes or so.
Serve topped with cheese and cashews, and enjoy!