Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Chili Con Jackfruit...because REAL chili has NO beans!

Last weekend I competed in the Long Beach Vegan Chili Cook Off at 4th Street Vine on 4th Street in the heart of Retro Row. Growing up in Long Beach, it's amazing how this strip of boutiques, restaurants, bars, coffee shops, and vintage stores have not only kept their doors open over the years, but have been flourishing! That section of Long Beach is so popular these days! It's pretty exciting to see (and rather difficult to park!)

I was super excited to participate in a vegan event in my own backyard, so I began pondering what to make. I didn't want to do TVP (delicious, but way too obvious) and I just knew my chili wasn't going to have beans in it! (I mean, do people really think beans belong in chili?) And I definitely wanted to be different than the other competitors. To stand out in the crowd. 

And a crowd it was! Hundreds of people showed up! The competitors, including myself, all prepared a minimum of 3 gallons of chili. Most of us had about 3 crockpots full. It was all gone in an hour as hungry chili tasters milled around with towers of tasting cups and smiles on their faces. It's true that all of the chilis were delicious. And all of them were different.

In the end it was a Jackfruit Chili Verde that took home the Judge's prize, and my chili came in 2nd place in the People's Choice category by only two votes! (I'm looking at you Dan, Mike, and Caroline...who just couldn't be bothered to!) So I am pretty happy with the result. And, after all, we are all winners at a vegan chili cookoff that is so packed it's standing room only! Yay for veganism in the LBC!

Chili Con Jackfruit
*Soy Free *Nut Free *Gluten Free
This recipe makes about three gallons of chili. So...either cut down the proportions to those that make sense for your needs, make the whole batch and bring it to a potluck or large gathering, or, it also freezes well. And, as all good chili does, this one takes a few hours to make. To make things easier on you, you can do it in stages. For instance, you can fry the jackfruit ahead of time, make your pico and corn salsa ahead of time, roast your peppers ahead of time...but that kind of takes the fun out of "chili-making-day" if you know what I mean.

8 (20 ounce) cans Young Green Jackfruit packed in brine, drained and rinsed
Canola oil, enough to fill the pan about 1/8-inch deep
1 (3.5 ounce) jar McCormick Smokehouse Maple Seasoning (or your favorite mesquite BBQ Spice blend)
6 whole Pasilla Peppers
9 whole jalapenos
1 cup canola oil (or other mild flavored vegetable oil)
2 pounds pico de gallo (home made is best, but store bought also works...tomatoes, yellow onion, jalapenos, and cilantro)
2 pounds fire roasted corn salsa (recipe HERE or use store bought, for the cookoff, I used corn, yellow onion, bell pepper, cilantro, and lime juice)
1/4 cup minced garlic
6 (14.5 ounce) cans diced Fire Roasted tomatoes with the juices
1 (28 ounce) can tomatillos, drained and chopped
1/4 cup sweet paprika
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon medium chili powder
8 cups water
1 2/3 cups masa flour (I used Maseca brand)
Smoked salt, to taste

After rinsing your jackfruit, pat it dry.
In a heavy bottomed skillet or frying pan, add oil to cover the bottom of the pan and equal about 1/8-inch deep. Heat over medium high heat. 
Add Jackfruit in a single layer and fry until crispy and brown. Flip and repeat on other side. Remove from oil and place in a large mixing bowl to cool. Repeat until all of the Jackfruit chunks are fried. Once cool, shred (or chop) the jackfruit until it resembels pulled pork.
Add the smoked seasoning and massage it into the jackfruit. Set aside.
In a dry pan, or hot grill, place Pasilla and jalapeno peppers directly in the pan or grill and cook until blistered on all sides. Remove and cover to soften and cool. Set aside.
In a large stock pot with a lid, heat 1 cup oil over medium high heat.
Add in the pico de gallo, corn salsa, and garlic. Stir often. Cover and simmer, while you prepare the peppers.
Chop the stems off of the peppers, cut lengthwise and scrape out the seeds. Dice.
Add in the seasoned jackfruit, chopped peppers, fire roasted tomatoes, tomatillos, paprika, cumin and chili powder, and water. Stir to combine.
Cover and bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and simmer for 2 hours, returning to stir occasionally to prevent any scorching on the bottom of the pot.
Stir in masa flour 1/4 cup at a time until well incorporated. This will slightly thicken the chili and give it an extra layer of flavor.
Cover and simmer an additional hour.
Serve. Add smoked salt to taste.

Yield: About 3 gallons

To add a cool creamy touch, I opted for a Cilantro Lime Sauce. I can make it from memory since I make it so often. Lol. But it's not soy free, so if you want to keep your chili soy free, skip this sauce. I also added chopped green onions and cilantro for some herbaceous brightness. But, there is no denying, that the real show-stopper here is those Bugles. Little cornucopias of tasty, salty, crunchy corn that add a nice crunch and 

Creamy Cilantro Lime Sauce
1 (12 ounce) package soft-silken tofu
3/4 cup mild flavored vegetable oil (I used canola)
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 teaspoon ground mustard seed
1 teaspoon salt (more or less to taste)
1 bunch cilantro (with stems)
2 tablespoons lime juice

Add all ingredients except lime juice and cilantro to a blender and puree until silky smooth. (I love using an immersion blender for this, as it whips it up nicely, is way less messy, and, to be honest, I don't have an expensive high powered table top blender, so the stick blender has always been my favorite kitchen gadget!) At this point, you have a tasty mayo-like base you can dress up in all sorts of this case into Cilantro Lime Sauce!
Add in the whole bunch of cilantro and lime juice and puree until green and smooth, but make sure there are still specks of cilantro in there. 
Keep refrigerated in an air-tight container for up to two weeks.

Yield: About 3 cups

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All recipes written by me, Joni Marie Newman, unless otherwise noted. Please feel free to refer to or link back to any of my recipes, but please ask for permission, and remember to give credit when reprinting recipes in their entirety. I do provide links to affiliate programs (such as Amazon) in which I receive a small commission for items purchased. I do not provide paid reviews. All reviews done on products or books are of my own unsolicited opinion. On occasion I may receive a book or product to review. I will note when this is the case, but rest assured, it will not affect the authenticity of my review. Thanks!--Joni