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18 Jan 2015
Meatless Texas Chili

Texas Style, Meatless Chili (Spiciness Optional!)

The meatless version neither looks nor tastes this good. But it's close!

There are two things I have learned about chili since I have started the journey to create the perfect bowl:

  • Chili is not tomato soup with chili powder in it. If it has a tomato base it may make a fine soup, but it won’t have the real chili flavor. A good chili has a base made of broth combined with a home made chili paste/concentrate.
  • All of my favorite chilies have had meat in them. This has been a sad realization for me since I eat meat very sparingly.

Even with this second point in mind I have been on a quest to craft the perfect bowl of meatless chili for several years now. My first attempts were all tomato based and therefore were failures, but recently I cooked up a pot that was not perfect, but good enough that the results deserved to be shared.

If you are looking for a meatless imitation of authentic texas chili that can be made as spicy or as mild (for the kids!) as you prefer, read on!

Recipe Modifications

My latest attempt to concoct my dream chili came before the Packer’s tragic loss in the NFC Championship last Sunday. This recipe was the best I’ve made yet, which I suppose is a small consolation for defeat. I started with the True Texas Chili recipe from Epicurious (It looks like Epicurious got the recipe from Lobel’s Meat Bible).

Actually the only major change I made was replacing the beef with:

(These quantities were for a triple batch of the recipe)

I sautéed the ground seitan and Smart Ground in vegetable oil before adding them to the pot. After adding the fake meat I added beans until it looked like there would be enough in each bite.

There were a few other notes I made while making this recipe:

  • Dried chilies I bought dried guajillo and pasilla chilies from my local supermarket (they had an incredible selection from a brand called Carmen’s). If you can find them, it’s really best to get the exact chilies called for in the recipe.
  • Chili Paste Tips Soaking the dried chilies for longer makes for a smoother chili paste. I was in a hurry and didn’t soak for the full hour and therefor my chili paste had some wax-paper-like pepper skins in it. Also, I used a food processor to form the pastes, but perhaps a powerfull blender would be better (like my housemates monsterously powerful Vitamix).
  • Don’t overdo the garlic or the salt: I cut back by almost half compared to this recipes recommendation and it was still a bit to garlicy.
  • Despite my earlier comments I did add one 12oz. can of fire roasted diced tomatoes for a bit of thickness, tang and sweetness. This small of an amount can be tolerated!
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