Sunday, July 06, 2008

Game Day Chili

Recently I came across a news article mentioning something called Game Day Chili. It had just won a chili cookoff, and was a bit unusual in that instead of meat it included texturized soy protein. The cookoff judges apparently had not realized it was meatless. This sounded intriguing, so I decided to try it. I found texturized soy protein at the local health food store. The only other ingredient that I thought might be a bit tricky to find was the canned chipotle chilis in adobo sauce, but these turned out to be easy; my supermarket had two or three brands. Look in the Mexican foods aisle. The rest of the ingredients should be easy to find. Instead of tomato juice, which I wouldn’t drink otherwise and which only comes in large bottles, I used a small (8 oz.) can of tomato sauce and diluted it to 1 ½ cups with the liquid drained from the canned beans. I also used a can of vegetable stock, which is about two cups, and added another cup of bean liquid. As it turned out, this was a little more liquid than I liked; I usually eat chili over rice and like it to be fairly thick. The other problem I had is that the large skillet I was using was full before I added everything. So I simmered the chili for at least a half-hour, to thicken it and to reduce the volume so I could put in the rest of the ingredients. When I made this a second time, I used my Dutch oven and just added the beans without draining them, along with a can of vegetable stock and a small can of tomato sauce as before. The recipe doesn’t list a serving number, but I’m guessing 8 at least.

I don’t like super-hot foods, so I was concerned in advance about the heat level of this. But, the recipe as written turned out to be just about right for me. In other words, it’s not all that hot, even with the chipotle chilis in there (which I didn’t notice at all in the final product). The soy protein picks up the color of the chili and looks a lot like ground beef, so I can see why the judges didn’t realize there was no meat. It didn’t taste “beany”, either. Everything blended together nicely and nothing stood out. This is a perfectly respectable chili. And it’s fairly quick (if you don’t simmer it down) and easy to make.

Follow-up note: I’ve discovered that the texturized soy protein can easily be incorporated into other dishes. I’ve used it instead of bread crumbs in a meatloaf and in a spinach pasta recipe. The meatloaf turned out a bit dryer than usual on the outside, but tasted the same as always. The spinach pasta recipe was fine. In both cases, I couldn’t detect the soy at all in the finished product. The instructions on the package suggest you hydrate the protein before using, but this doesn’t seem to be absolutely necessary.

Verdict: Yum! This one's a keeper!

Game Day Chili

(source: Illinois Center for Soy Foods website,

(sorry, I don't have a photo, you'll just have to imagine a bowl of chili...)

2 Tbsp. ground cumin
2 Tbsp. chili powder
1 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
1-1/2 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
1-1/2 cups tomato juice
3 cups vegetable or beef broth
1-1/4 cups dry TVP (texturized soy protein)
1 14.5-oz. can diced tomatoes
2 15-oz. cans black beans, rinsed and drained
2 15-oz. cans kidney beans, rinsed & drained
2 chipotle chilies in adobo sauce (from can), chopped

Condiments (optional): grated cheese, chopped onions, diced avocado, sliced black olives

Mix all the seasonings in a small bowl. Set aside.

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onions and sauté until golden. Add garlic, bell pepper, and seasoning mixture and sauté for another minute. Add the remaining ingredients (except condiments) and mix well. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for at least 15 minutes to let the flavors blend. Serve with the optional condiments, if desired.

Nutritional Information
Per serving (1 ½ cups): 229 calories, 17 g protein, 33 g carbohydrate, 5 g fat (0.6 g saturated)

Recycle: oil bottle, spice jars, tin cans

Compost: vegetable peelings