It’s interesting that authentic chili is straight meat because of all the dishes out there, it’s one of the easiest to enjoy without it. Mine’s got black beans and hominy. You could use pinto, but black beans offer better color. You could sub in corn, but hominy’s so much more interesting. Speaking of which…
Nearly every time I run a recipe calling for hominy, someone asks what it is. Hominy is hulled corn kernels that have been stripped of their bran and germ. In this state the corn won’t sprout, so this is how it gets stored. Grind hominy, and you’ve got grits.
But like dried beans, hominy also comes canned in its cooking liquid, and this is what I use in my vegetarian chili. I love its unique grit-like flavor and its chewy gnocchi-ish texture. Most well-stocked grocery stores carry it. I usually find it with the canned beans or in the ethnic section.
My vegetarian chili is also unique because of the three flavors I stir in at the end—garlic, chocolate and cilantro. Stir garlic in at the beginning of cooking and its flavor mellows too much. Stir it in at the end for a much more pronounced flavor.
Adding chocolate gives chili depth, richness and complexity–especially important when it’s vegetarian. Cilantro brings freshness, color, and a unique flavor that most of us love… which reminds me. Remember when cilantro was a highly controversial herb? Not so much anymore. When’s the last time someone told you they didn’t like cilantro?
- 1 quart good quality vegetable broth (e.g. Pacific, Kitchen Basics, or Imagine brand), plus water as needed
- 1 can (14.5 ounces) petite-diced tomatoes
- 1 generous tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 medium-large onion, cut into medium dice
- 1 bell pepper, color choice is yours, cut into medium dice
- 3 tablespoons chili powder
- 1 teaspoon each ground cumin and oregano
- 2 cans (15.5 ounces each) drained black beans
- 2 cans (15.5 ounces each) drained hominy
- 3 large garlic cloves, minced
- 1 ounce bittersweet chocolate
- ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
- Microwave broth and tomatoes in a 2-quart Pyrex measuring cup or other microwave-safe container on high power until steamy hot, about 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, heat oil in a Dutch oven or small soup kettle over medium-high heat. Add onions and peppers; sauté until soft and golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add chili powder, cumin, and oregano: sauté until fragrant, a minute or so. Add beans and hominy along with hot broth mixture. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to low and simmer, partially covered, until vegetables are tender and flavors have blended, about 20 minutes. Stir in garlic, chocolate, and cilantro, simmer a couple of minutes to blend flavors. Turn off heat and let stand a few minutes if there’s time. Adjust seasonings, and serve.
I’m making this tomorrow night, Mom. I’m really into hominy right now – must be my Southern roots. And with this warm weather, soon we won’t be making chili anymore. Must seize the opportunity!
This is super easy and super good, I just made it-thanks!!!
Sharon Sucher says
My oldest son still does not like cilantro!!!! Personally, I love it and use it quite a bit in my cooking, but it seems like he can smell it whenever he comes through the front door!!!! Whenever he visits, I have to dish him out a portion before I add cilantro for the rest of us. He thinks it tastes like soap! Your chili sounds delicious – can’t wait to try it.
Pam Anderson says
My father has the same aversion for celery as you son has for cilantro. He can even smell it in the car after a trip to the grocery store.
There was a time when Mom had to make a separate pan of dressing without celery for him at Thanksgiving. In his old age, however, he’s started to tolerate cooked celery. Raw celery–no way!
I love cilantro, but my dad thought it smelled like dirty socks! Luckily, my husband and kids range from like to love on that issue.
Lena C. says
Made this recipe the other day. Lots of flavor and the chocolate adds some richness. I would definitely make this again but would get rid of the hominy since I don’t think it adds much taste. I never had hominy so it was worth the try. I’ll probably replace it with pinto or kidney beans. Also delicious with cornbread!
Kate Powell says
I only made 1/2 the recipe as I wasn’t sure I would like it. Boy, do I wish I had made a whole batch! Easy and tasty!
Cynthia Kreps says
I’m making this for a chili cook off fund raiser tomorrow! Hope it’s good. If so I’ll pass on credit to you👍
Pam Anderson says
Hope your chili was a big hit!