February 1st is right around the corner, and you know what that means: the Oregon Truffle Festival is coming to an end. Wait. No. It means Super Bowl 43 is coming up. Or so we’re told. And THAT means we’ve got to get our chili on, vegan-style. Also, I think the Oregon Truffle Festival is actually coming to an end that day. Mmmm. Truffles.

So, this is a favorite recipe of ours and one we’ve been making and trying to perfect for years now. And with the stupendously crappy overcast day we’re having in Brooklyn, it seems to be a perfect feature for today. It’s a fairly spicy, ‘meaty’ chili, relying on the chiptole pepper (a smoked jalapeño) for much of the taste. I’m totally getting hungry writing about it. The ‘cheese’ sauce is a more recent addition and, since the chili recipe yields a whole lot, is something nice to make a day or two after you cook up the chili for mixing into a really excellent chip dip.

So here’s what you need:
Smokey Jo’s Chili
– 2 Large Vidalia Onions (or some sweet, yellow onion), diced
– 2 Large Green Bell Peppers, diced
– 5 Cloves of Garlic, smashed, peeled, and chopped
– 4 tbsp Olive Oil
– 5-8 Chipotle Peppers, depending on how spicy you like things, chopped
(these can be found canned in a lot of stores now and dried in specialty shops)
– 15 oz Fake Ground Beef
(we usually use Morning Star Farms Crumbles because they provide a nice texture, unfortunately they now coem in 12 oz bags…)
– 40.5 oz Red Kidney Beans
– 1/2 cup Teriyaki or Sweet Soy Sauce
– 28 oz can Crushed Tomatoes
(we like Sclafani…mainly because the can’s so old school)
– 14.5 oz can Diced Tomatoes
– 4 tbsp Chili Powder
– 2 tsp Natural Hickory Smoke Flavor
– 1 tbsp Ground Black Pepper
– 2 tsp Salt
– 2 Bay Leaves
– pinch of Ground Ginger
– pinch of Cinnamon

Dice the onions into small, roughly 1/2-inch pieces or smaller, chop the garlic into tiny bits, and roast over medium heat in a cast iron skillet with olive oil until the onions are starting to become translucent and garlic browns a little. Add the faux beef and stir and brown for about five minutes. Add the hickory smoke, quickly stir and cover so the mixture absorbs the smoke taste. Cook covered for another two minutes or so. Add diced chipotle peppers and teriyaki/sweet soy sauce to give the meat mixture a spicy sweetness. Simmer for five minutes covered, adding a bit of water if the mixtures looks to dried out or starts to stick too much. Add diced green peppers, again about 1/2-inch pieces or smaller, cook covered for five minutes or until the peppers begin to get a deep green, but still firm, not too dark or soft.In a separate large pot (8 quart or so), toss in the drained kidney beans (not rinsed though) and all the tomatoes. Back at the skillet, add 1 tsp of salt, 1 tbsp chili powder, and cook off most of the liquid for 2 minutes or so, leaving the mixture a little saucy. Once that’s done, give it a taste. It should taste pretty god at this point, but very concentrated in it’s sweetness and spiciness. Carefully toss the mixture in the large pot with beans and tomatoes, mix it all together and put it on medium-low heat. Bring it to a low simmer and add the bay leaves, the rest of the salt, rest of the chili powder, ginger, and cinnamon. If you like things more on the sweet side, add a little more cinnamon. Spicy? Add a bit more chili powder and black pepper. Simmer all that covered on low for one hour, stirring every so often to make sure it’s circulating and the bottom is burning at all. This’ll make, I don’t know, 74 servings? So feel free to freeze some after your initial meal. It keeps.

And then, if you want to use it for vegan chili cheese dip:
Vegan Chili Cheese Dip
– 1 1/4 cup Nutritional Yeast
– 1 cup Canola Oil
– 1/2 cup Soy Milk
– 2 tsp Salt
– 2 tsp Dijon Mustard
– 2 tsp Natural Hickory Smoke Flavor

Mix all that in a measuring cup or other microwave-safe container with a fork or whisk, then microwave it for 30 seconds. This heats up the oil and helps dissolve the nutritional yeast flakes to make a better consistency. That’s about it. So now you have a pretty good vegan ‘cheese’ sauce for nachos or, if you want to add less liquid or more yeast to make it thicker, quesadillas. And for the chili cheese dip, just add a cup of chili and then up to a cup or more, depending on how you like your chili to cheese ratio. The cheese sauce recipe doubles pretty well too, so feel free to employ basic multiplication to the measurements. Mmm. Math.Now get to a super bowl party, grab a beer, ignore the TV, and eat some chili, man.