What’s that graphic about, you ask? Well, reader, I’ll tell you. NBC’s Today Show announced last month that they’d be holding their first ever viewer chili cook-off and, realizing that I did, in fact, have the best chili recipe in the world, I entered. And you know what? I was THIS close (picture me doing that thumb-index finger thing and squinting) to getting on. I totally got a screening call last week (no, for real!) and, after what I have to admit was a pretty charming, wit-filled conversation with the PA who screened me, I felt pretty confident that I’d make the cut.

Sadly, as you may or may not have seen this morning, I totally did not. They instead went with 1) some dude who did a scary-ass pig call and made a beefy apple (?) chili; 2) a Texan who made a beanless, insanely meat-filled chili; and 3) a dude who did a chicken and turkey chili. Now, I’m sure I could go all jerky vegan on you and claim that they most likely felt like they’d get laughed out of the room if one of the three chilis in their first ever chili cook-off was totally meatless and, god forbid, VEGAN…but, as you well know, that’s not my style. Plus Matt Lauer wasn’t even there today, so what’s the point in being on the Today Show?

No, no, there’s no bitterness. Instead, I’ll chalk it up to one of those ‘honored to be nominated’ moments and re-post the recipe here for anyone in need of some ideas for this Super Bowl weekend. I don’t think we’re alone in our view of the event, being more excited about the food involved than the reason for it, so do enjoy, dear readers.

We originally posted this recipe back in January of 2009, but have since slightly modified it, ousting the soy and opting for some seitan instead and making a few other minor adjustments over time. This is a somewhat spicy chili, but you can control that with how much chipotle you put in there, and it’s totally one of our favorite, most frequently used recipes. As we mentioned with the original post, it’s also AWESOME paired with a ‘cheesy’ sauce, making a delectable vegan chili-cheese sauce for dippin’ and such. We’re planning on exactly that this Sunday and usually make it by simmering some almond milk with spices (salt, a good bit of nutritional yeast, cracked white pepper, and maybe a dash of five Chinese spice) until it gets a good taste and then lower the heat, adding in some Daiya at the end. Anyway, the chili—

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)
– 15-20 oz of Seitan, finely chopped so it begins to resemble crumbles or ground protein (two loaves or so if it’s homemade, which is ideal, two pack or so, store-bough—here’s a word or two on good seitan recipes in an earlier post)
– 40.5 oz Red Kidney Beans
– .25 cup Teriyaki or Sweet Soy Sauce
– 28 oz can Crushed Tomatoes (go Sclafani and never look back)
– 14.5 oz can Diced Tomatoes (you can go with whatevs, but we like using flame roasted ones)
– 4 tbsp Chili Powder
– 1 tbsp Natural Hickory Smoke Flavor
– 1 tbsp Ground Black Pepper
– 1 tbsp Smoked Paprika
– 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 seitan, stir, and brown for about five minutes. Add the hickory smoke, quickly stir and cover so the mixture absorbs the smoke taste, cooking for about five minutes. Uncover and stir, scraping the mixture from the bottom of the pan if need. Cover and cook for another five minutes. Add diced chipotle peppers and teriyaki/sweet soy sauce to give the mixture a spicy sweetness. Simmer for another five minutes, covered, adding a bit of water or broth if the mixture starts to dry out or sticks too much. Add diced green peppers, again about 1/2-inch pieces or smaller, cooking covered for five minutes or until the peppers become deep green, but not too dark or too soft.

In a separate large pot (8 quart or so), toss in the drained kidney beans (not rinsed) 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 good 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, and all of the remaining spices. 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.

Have a great weekend! And go Jets! Wait…