Last June, my mom called to ask me if I needed her to bring anything for me from America.
I looked in my pantry. I was running out of the special ingredient.
This recipe for vegan chili is delicious, healthy, super easy to make, and for this reason, is cooked almost every week in our home. A little over a year ago, I discovered that it is made even better with a special secret ingredient.
The secret ingredient is a unique, smoky hot sauce from a local Mexican restaurant chain in Florida called Tijuana Flats.
But I was in a conundrum, as I looked inside my pantry–did I need this sauce enough to make my mother have to say its name out loud in the restaurant?
I decided I did.
A little sheepishly, I explained to her what I needed, and my husband asked for his favorite sauce as well. We sent the names of the bottles and the quantities we wanted in an email, which she jotted down on an index card, a little skeptically.
The next day, while my mom was running errands, I happened to call her, and overheard the following polite customer-client exchange.
“Hi, Welcome to Tijuana Flats!”
“Hiiiiii, Thank you…[awkward pause]…Do you sell sauces?”
“Yes! Yes, we do.”
“Goooood. Uh… could I have three bottles of…[mumbling] Don’t be a…Chicken…uh [incoherent]”
“[a little flustered] A–a chicken…? OH–OH YES! Yes, we have that. [polite, uncomfortable laughter] Yes!”
“–And, and one more..this…Slap my…sweet…”
“[unnaturally high] what?!”
“Yeah, ok, you read this. It’s on the index card.”
Recipe adapted from: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/the-best-vegetarian-chili-in-the-world/
1 cup red-speckled (sugar) beans
1 cup red kidney beans
1 cup black beans
1 red onion
1 green bell pepper
1 jalapeno pepper (or green chili pepper)
3-4 cloves garlic
4 tomatoes or 1 can diced tomatoes (I use the ones with garlic, basil, oregano seasoning in them.)
Enough water to cover beans
1 can corn
Seasoning: Bay leaves (6), Dried Basil (2 tablespoons), Dried Oregano (2 tablespoons), Ground and/or Whole Cumin (1-2 tablespoons), Salt, Black Pepper
Secret ingredient: Tijuana Flat’s Don’t Be a Chicken Shit hot sauce.
Soak the beans in water for 3-4 hours until double in size.
Put about a teaspoon of oil into a pressure cooker. Chop up onion, green bell pepper, carrots, jalapeno pepper, and grated garlic cloves, and just throw them in the oil as you chop them, or you can put them in all together at the end, whatever’s easier for you. At the end, throw in the diced tomatoes. Cook for a few minutes.
Drain the soaked beans and rinse them a few times, and then add them into the pot, with enough water to cover the beans and vegetables completely.
Add the spices: bay leaves, basil, oregano, cumin, salt and pepper. You can also add taco seasoning, red pepper flakes, or red chili powder depending on how spicy you want it. Seasoning is always to taste, but I love to add as much basil and oregano as I possibly can.
Pressure cook for about 7-8 whistles, or about 45 minutes to an hour.
When cooked, let pressure cooker cool down and release the whistle. The chili should have thickened, but if it’s watery, mash some of the beans together. Add the can of corn, and taste for salt.
Normally, chili is of course served with cheese, but we like to eat ours with yogurt (but it’s good enough on its own). Then we drizzle the secret ingredient: Tijuana Flat’s Don’t be a Chicken Shit hot sauce on top. Sometimes, my husband likes to add Slap My Sweet Ass and Call Me Sally, which is a garlic infused, sweet-and-spicy sauce, but I prefer the smoky, tangy, cayenne flavor of Don’t be a Chicken Shit. (You can buy the sauces online here.) This dish would probably be enhanced by other Mexican spices or sauces as well, and is the kind of food where you enjoy the taste, but you feel good afterwards as well, because you are pretty much just eating proteins, vegetables, water, and spices.
And it’s the kind of taste for which you would go so far as to ask your poor mother to speak unspeakable words in public. But sometimes, it has to be done.
Thank God for the index card.