Chili is a great American food. A winter favorite, it is as varied in composition as America itself. The quality of the chili can run the spectrum as well, from a greasy bland bowl of some stewedlike substance to sublimely satisfying and filling. This version is a properly spiced vegetarian version. Need meat? No worries—add a pound or so of your favorite protein and lose 8 oz of the beans; but I recommend trying the vegetarian version first.
The extra beans add richness and are an additional source of lean protein, as well as fiber, tryptophan, and molybdenum—a trace element essential for the proper functioning of the detoxifying enzyme sulfite oxidase. The wheat berries add a satisfying texture and filling flavor. They absorb the flavor of the chili liquid; and if you construct your own homemade (or find some freshly ground) chili powder you truly elevate this humble creation to new heights. The wheat berries also reduce the fat content (you can get all the fat derived flavor and texture you need by using beef or dark chicken stock; you do not need pounds of meat). They are also fantastic sources of folic acid, protein, B-complex vitamins and anti-oxidants like vitamin E. Diets rich in foodstuffs like the beans and wheat berries in this veggie version of chili have been associated with less obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular and periodontal disease.
2 tbsp olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
2 tbsp chopped garlic
1 tbsp Mexican oregano
4 tbsp chili powder
1 chopped hot pepper like cayenne or jalapeño
1 chopped dried California pepper (or similar type)
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa
6 oz tomato paste
16 oz bag dried beans (rehydrated) or 2 cans of beans
3 cups vegetable nage (see recipe below)
1 cup white or red wine
2 cups assorted vegetables
16 oz chopped tomatoes
2 tbsp masa (corn flour)
1/4 cup cilantro
Cheese and sour cream for garnish
If rehydrating the beans, soak the night before. Place in a pot covered by 1-2 inches of water then bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until tender, about 2 hours over medium heat then remove and reserve to add back later.
Heat the olive oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until onions translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the oregano, chili powder, peppers, cumin, coriander, and cocoa and tomato paste. Cook for another 2 minutes.
Add the beans, nage, wine, vegetables and tomatoes. If needed add additional water to assure the vegetables are covered. Bring to a simmer and cook for another 1 1/2 to 2 hours until all the vegetables are tender and the liquid has reduced slightly.
Remove 1/2 cup of liquid and whisk together in a separate bowl with the flour. Add the slurry back to the chili and continue to cook an additional 30 minutes.
Add the cilantro and serve by garnishing with cheese and sour cream.
6 onions, quartered
12 carrots roughly chopped
2 lemons, quartered
4 celery stalk, roughly chopped
1 tsp white peppercorns
1 tsp pink peppercorns
2 bay leaves
8 star anise
4 quarts of water
2 cups white wine
2 sprigs each:
Bring the first 8 ingredients to a boil in the water. If your tap as any off flavors, use bottled water as the nage has very subtle flavor characteristics. Reduce to a simmer and continue for about 15 minutes more. Remove from heat and allow to cool at room temperature. Add the wine then strain the entire mixture. The resulting liquid should be clear. Add the herbs and refrigerate for 24 hours the strain again.
Serving Size 6 oz; Servings per container: 40
Nutrient Analysis: 470 Calories; 36 g Total Fat; 34 g Total CarabohydrateCopyright Michael Fenster, MD, FACC, FSCA&I, PEMBA. a chef and practicing cardiologist on staff with Cardiology Specialists of Florida at Hernando Heart Clinic (www.whatscookingwithdoc.com).