First, I know you all want an update on Buddy, the dog that Alan found wandering the streets near our house. Well, he is still with us. We put posters around the neighborhood and at Starbucks, kept our eyes out for signs on the street corners, made a few phone calls, but nobody has claimed him.
Which is okay by us. By this time he has really become part of the family. Our pack is still a little hesitant and jealous, but they’re getting better. I expect they’ll be playing soon. Buddy can use the doggy door, is learning how to walk on a leash (he didn’t seem to know how the first day!), and is getting used to being a canine vegetarian. He’s got an appointment on Monday for a check up and neutering, and we’ll get him a proper halter and leash this weekend. And a bath. Definitely a bath.
Another reason I love him already. I think he looks a little like the Traveler’s Insurance dog, one of my favorite commercial dogs of all time. Okay, just a little, but it’s still my favorite and I take any excuse to watch it.
So we’re back up to a six-pack again. It was only a matter of time. Now, on to the chili.
I know that chili is not a meal that is usually associated with summer time and warmer temperatures. I can imagine snuggling up around a fire, wrapped in a comforter, holding a hot bowl of chili to warm me up even more. Well, not really, I live in the desert and I haven’t used my fireplace since I’ve owned my house, but you get the idea.
The concept came, though, when I wanted a quick meal after cross country practice the other night, and upon reviewing the contents of my cupboards, a decided to try using the seitan that I had on hand to create this Chili con Not-Carne. The meal took about 45 minutes to prepare, including cooking time, but you can let it simmer for a longer time if you’d like, which would make it even more flavorful.
Chili con Not-Carne
(note: I made a small batch because of the quantity of seitan I had on hand and because it was just my husband and me. You can easily double the recipe for a family or bigger crowd.)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Serrano Chile, seeded and chopped (I never seed my chiles because I love the “kick” but it is up to you. You can also use a milder chili if you prefer)
1 cup or 1 package seitan, cut into small cubes
1 28 ounce can tomatoes
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1-2 tablespoons Sriracha (the more the spicier!)
2 15 ounce cans beans, drained and rinsed (I used 1 kidney beans, one white beans)
8 ounces beer (I only had non-alcoholic in my fridge and that worked just fine)
1/2 cup corn
Avocado and Cilantro for garnish (optional)
Preheat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook until soft (about 5 minutes).
Add the seitan and chile. Cook until the seitan starts to brown.
Add the tomatoes (along with their liquid), Sriracha, chili powder, cumin, paprika and salt. When the mixture starts to bubble, add the beans and stir. Add the beer slowly, stirring as you do so, scraping up anything that may have stuck to the pan. Bring to a boil then stir in the corn. Reduce heat to low. You can simmer anywhere from 15 minutes to a couple hours (you may have to add more liquid if you simmer longer, so don’t finish that beer).
Serve in individual bowls with a few slices avocado and some cilantro sprinkled on top.
Seitan is one of my favorite meat substitutes. It is made from wheat gluten. You can make this chili without the seitan for a gluten free meal (make sure that you use gluten free beer, or substitute water or vegetable broth). It is a great dish to prepare as you’re making the transition to veg’n, or to enjoy for a Meatless Monday, because it is quick, with easy to find ingredients, and has a rich, meaty flavor.
So that opens the question: If you are vegan or vegetarian, do you enjoy meat substitutes? If you occasionally go meat-free, do you just skip the meat or use a sub? What are your favorites? (Yes, I know that many are processed, but we’re talking taste here.)