Though my favorite chili is made mostly of just meat and chiles, with little else to get in the way, I am not opposed to the idea of a vegetarian chili. Doesn't it sound good to have the warming chili hug without the pounds and pounds of meat? But that's easier said than done. What I have realized over the years is that it's much, much easier to make a tasty meat-light chili with a bunch of vegetables added in.
Early on, I decided to go with pork instead of beef, though beef would also work. For time's sake, I had to go with ground meat instead of one-inch chunks (which need more than an hour to finish). But rather than hold me back, I realized that if I sautéed the meat until very brown, I could get a lot of meaty flavor out of a relatively little amount.
Of course, to make chili I needed chiles. For this quick batch I settled on canned chipotles, which wouldn't need to be soaked before using. Also, instead of regular canned tomatoes, I picked out a can of fire roasted ones, which helped accentuate the smoky flavor of the chipotles. To finish off the liquid I added chicken stock and chili's best friend: a bottle of beer.
As for the vegetables, sweet potatoes were a must. I knew the hunks would add a slight sweetness, along with a pop of color. I also decided to add a mixture of pinto beans and chickpeas.
The result fills you up without too much meat, but the best compliment is that it tastes like it took far longer to make than an hour.
- Yield:serves 6
- Active time: 45 minutes
- Total time:1 hour
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 pound ground pork
- 2 chipotles en adobo, chopped
- 1 (15-ounce) can fire-roasted whole peeled tomatoes
- 1 medium onion, chopped (about 3/4 cup)
- 2 medium garlic cloves, minced (about 2 teaspoons)
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 12 ounces beer (I used a pilsner)
- 2 cups homemade or store-bought low sodium chicken broth
- 1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 (15-ounce) can pinto beans, drained
- 1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained
- Kosher salt
- 4 scallions, ends trimmed, green parts thinly sliced
- Sour cream for serving
Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add pork and break up to small pieces with a wooden spoon. Cook, stirring often, until well browned, about five minutes. When done remove the ground pork with slotted spoon and set aside. Remove all about two tablespoons of the excess fat.
Combine chipotles and tomatoes in a blender and blend until smooth. Set aside.
Return Dutch oven to medium-high heat until fat is shimmering. Add onion and sauté until soft and translucent. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add cumin and chili powder and cook until a thin film begins to form on the bottom of the pan, about 30 seconds. Add chipotle/tomato mixture. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to maintain a simmer, and cook until the liquid has thickened, about five minutes.
Add beer and stock and bring to a simmer. Return the pork and add the sweet potatoes and drained beans to the pot, stirring to combine. Cook until sweet potatoes are tender, fifteen to twenty minutes. Season to taste with salt.
Serve the chili with a sprinkling of scallions and a drizzle of sour cream.