Meatless Monday: Meatless Chili

Rachael Ray's chili is hearty, comforting and filling, even though it's made without meat.
By: Michelle Buffardi
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I've been making black bean chili for about 10 years now. It's my go-to dish for the fall, especially when serving a crowd. But when I make it, I don't call it "vegetarian chili," even though it is. I think calling something vegetarian still freaks people out a little bit, as if it might have some scary mystery ingredient that vegetarians use to ward off meat-lovers and vampires, like TVP or tofu. Lots of dishes are technically vegetarian if you think about it; apple pie is meatless, but no one offers a slice of "vegetarian apple pie," do they?

So to me, chili is chili. Sometimes it's made with beef, sometimes chicken, sometimes just beans, and some recipes are loaded with vegetables like zucchini and carrots. Rachael Ray's Meaty, Meat-less Chili is made with black beans and portobello mushrooms, plus traditional chili ingredients like cumin and hot peppers. It's hearty, filling and comforting -- perfect for a fall potluck or football party. No need to call it vegetarian chili, but you're vegetarian friends will love it, and so will your meat-loving pals.

Meaty, Meat-less ChiliRecipe courtesy Rachael RayServes 43 medium ancho chiles

1 quart vegetable or chicken stock-in-a-box (choose vegetable stock to make this chili truly meatless)

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil8 portabella caps, wiped clean, gills scraped, chopped4 large cloves garlic, thinly sliced1 large onion, chopped1 green or red chile, thinly slicedSalt and freshly ground black pepperA scant palmful smoked paprikaA scant palmful cuminA scant palmful corianderPinch ground cinnamon2 (15-ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained1 (15-ounce) can fire-roasted diced or crushed tomatoes1 ripe avocado1 cup sour creamJuice of 1 limeA handful fresh cilantro or fresh parsleyToasted pepitas or sunflower seeds for garnish, optionalTortilla chips, 2 (1-ounce) bags or couple handfuls, optional

Stem and seed the ancho chiles and place in a pot with stock, bring the mixture to a boil then reduce the heat and keep warm.

Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat with 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, 4 turns of the pan. Add the mushrooms to the hot oil and brown 12 to 15 minutes, then add the garlic, onions, chile, salt and black pepper and soften 5 to 6 minutes more, season with a spice mixture of paprika, cumin, coriander, and cinnamon.

Puree the reconstituted chiles and stock in a food processor. Add the chile stock mixture, beans, and tomatoes to the chili, cook 15 minutes until thickened, then turn off the heat, cool, cover and chill for make-ahead meal.

To reheat: Cover the chili and place over medium to medium-high heat, stirring frequently until the chili bubbles, then uncover and simmer until ready to serve.

Combine the avocado, sour cream, lime juice, cilantro, and salt in food processor and process into a smooth avocado-sour cream sauce for stirring into the chili. Serve the chili in shallow bowls and garnish with the avocado sauce, pepitas, if using, and a few tortilla chips, if using.

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