Party Leftover Chili

As far as I am concerned, my grandmother’s chili is chili. It’s a pretty simple recipe, but I guess because it’s what I grew up with, it’s the definitive chili in my opinion. Nonetheless, when I came across this recipe last week, I considered it fortuitous because it calls for a bunch of stuff that I had left over from last weekend’s party. I had leftover beer, tortilla chips and an entire jar of salsa brought by thoughtful guests. This recipe takes care of all that stuff! Here’s how I veganized it.

Alton Brown’s Pressure Cooker Chili

1 1/2 lbs your favorite seitan (if you are like many people, Kittee’s seitan may well be your favorite)
1 1/2 lbs soaked pinto and kidney beans –> Okay, I dropped the ball on this one by not weighing these before I soaked them; I merely soaked all I had left of both kinds, then weighed after soaking. I’d say maybe a pound unsoaked? There’s no need to be exact anyway.
1 tsp salt
1 bottle of beer
1 beer bottle full of water (12 oz) –> this is twice as much liquid as called for in the original recipe, however, you need it for cooking the beans.
1 jar of salsa
1/2 can chipotles in adobo sauce (chilis + sauce)
2 cups tortilla chips (whole or fragments, whatever)
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1 Tbsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin powder

Chop seitan into bite-sized pieces.

Place a couple tablespoons of oil (I used peanut as Alton Brown suggested) in a pressure cooker, then fry the seitan until golden brown.

Pour about half the bottle of beer into the cooker and deglaze the pot, scraping all the browned bits off.

Stir in the rest of the ingredients except the tortilla chips.

Add the tortilla chips and give a quick stir.

Put the lid on the pressure cooker, bring up to pressure on medium high heat, then reduce heat to medium low or low (the lowest setting at which you can keep the pressure) and cook for 30 minutes. Use a quick-release method to release pressure (i.e., hold pot under cold running water until pressure is released).

Garnish with vegan sour cream if you’d like and eat with additional tortilla chips.

This was great: very tasty, very easy, very fast, and I felt so great about using up all those party leftovers! The original was an all-meat, beanless chili, but I thought it would be seitan overload if I used all seitan, plus I love beans and I thought they made for a great texture. The pintos were creamy and the kidneys had just enough texture to provide a contrast.

If you don’t have a pressure cooker, you’ll have to cook it (in a Dutch oven or large pot) for several hours until the beans are done. Or just used canned beans (which I wouldn’t recommend in the pressure cooker because they’ll overcook): I’d probably use two cans pinto and 1 can kidney, but you can use whatever you like.

Incidentally, we don’t have cable TV and I therefore only ever get to watch the Food Network when we’re at Mark’s mom’s house or on vacation somewhere, and I’ve never seen Alton Brown’s show. I’m so out of touch. I always thought he was the “science” guy of cooking, though, (and kind of cute – some people think Mark looks like him and I’ve seen photos where that’s true), so I figured I’d like him. I was surprised to see things like jarred salsa and tortilla chips in one of his recipes. It just seemed more like a Sandra Lee (wow, I saw her show on a Virgin flight one time and I wanted to throw up) thing to do. Or Paula Deen (saw her show on the same flight and also wanted to throw up, for a different reason: she used about a pound of butter to make everything). Or am I overreacting? Jarred salsa isn’t bad: I use it sometimes. It’s even an ingredient in my famous nacho cheese. It’s just that I find it an unusual ingredient in a professional recipe because you can’t control what brand the user will purchase and they are so different. Not that I think TV chefs want to control people, but it seems a certain salsa could make or break their recipe. If I were writing a recipe, I’d probably just include individual salsa ingredients in the recipe. Then again, I have to admit I didn’t specifically taste the salsa in the finished recipe so I probably have no idea what I’m talking about. I’m probably being snobby. And also, I was delighted the recipe called for jarred salsa because I had so much of it!


  1. Josiane Said,

    July 21, 2009 @ 11:26 pm

    Oh, a beer from the Magic Hat brewery! That reminds me of my trip to Burlington last September! My gentleman friend spent forever at the liquor store choosing the perfect assortment of beers from American micro-breweries! We don’t get them here, and there was only so much we could take back with us…
    The recipe is intriguing: first time I see tortillas chips cooked in the chili. I’ll have to try it!

  2. Lou Said,

    July 22, 2009 @ 4:57 am

    I recently inherited my grandmothers pressure cooker which is from the 50’s. Like yourself, I love old things, but I’m scared of this thing. I need to sit down with the 50’s manual (you should see it! the ladies are so slim waisted and prim!) and figure it out.

    I think what you might be railing against is the fact that you would specify because your focus is on the food and the success of the person making it (because you care) whereas this guys focus is, eh, probably not so much on that.

  3. Lisa Said,

    July 22, 2009 @ 7:32 am

    I have wanted to make Kittee’s seitan, but I cannot find creole seasoning. (It’s probably that I have no idea what I am looking for, really.) Do you think that there is something that can be subbed for it?

  4. kibbles Said,

    July 22, 2009 @ 12:28 pm

    I agree that Sandra and Paula are a nightmare. I really like Alton Brown, his show is so food-geeky. Somehow I like the Barefoot Contessa too, even though she cooks close to the way Paula Dean does, but she reminds me of a really nice gramma and she’s always cooking for her hubby or a friend.
    With that said, I’m so jealous of that cute thing in the last photo of the chili, that bowl thingie. I want!

  5. renae Said,

    July 22, 2009 @ 1:34 pm

    Lisa, I find Creole seasoning near the rest of the spices in a regular grocery store, although I’m not sure of availability in all regions. It’s usually on a shelf under the regular spices, near the large tins of paprika and things like that. I don’t really taste the seasoning in the finished seitan, so you could really substitute any sort of flavoring you like. If I couldn’t find the Creole seasoning (which is sort of salty/spicy), I’d probably use any of those salt substitutions like Vege-Sal. Use less (or no) salt if you use something that contains salt. Or you could use a crumbled bouillon cube: a fake beef or chicken flavor might help your seitan taste a little more “beefy” or “chickeny” if that’s what you’re going for.

    Kibbles, although that chili bowl is very similar to the ones my mom had when I was a kid, I actually bought that one for under a dollar in a thrift store. If you frequent thrift stores, keep an eye out for them: I see them all the time and they’re usually cheap because they are fairly common. It comes with a little lid as well!

  6. renae Said,

    July 22, 2009 @ 1:41 pm

    Josiane, Yeah, I thought the tortilla chips were an interesting addition, instead of cornmeal or something (which seems like it would be a bit healthier). And Magic Hat is great! Are you in Canada?

    Lou, I’m not afraid of many things – I have no qualms using my grandfather’s electric drill from the ’60s although I can see sparks inside it when it’s running – but I’ve read so much fear-mongering about old pressure cookers that I would be apprehensive about using one of those. Then again, I haven’t really heard about any pressure cooker maimings or fatalities, so I’m sure if you read the instruction manual carefully you’ll be okay. I’d think you’d want to make very sure the gasket that creates the seal between the pot and the lid is in good condition, though; maybe replace it if you can. I’ve never even seen an old pressure cooker; I bet the manual is a hoot.

  7. jd Said,

    July 22, 2009 @ 3:32 pm

    Yea, you are being snobby, but that’s a good thing 🙂

    The closer food is to it’s fresh/natural state, the better it generally tastes, and that definitely includes salsa. However, I have found that sometimes it doesn’t matter if it’s from a jar – if you’re adding it to something you’re heating or cooking (like here), for example. I do think salsa should be home-made if you’re eating it with chips or on tacos, etc., though. So, I guess you can call me snobby, too!

    Also, I completely agree re: Sandra Lee and Paula Deen. YUCK! And Alton Brown is great – I always learn interesting things from him…

    PS Your pics in this post are so fantastic! I especially love the last one with the little chili bowl – very cool!

  8. Jes Said,

    July 22, 2009 @ 9:12 pm

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen a chili recipe with the chips thrown in before it’s done cooking…sounds like an Alton thing for sure. I’ve never been a big fan of his show, but most folks on Food Network drive me up a wall. Suburban cooking is boring to eat and boring to watch. But that’s just my opinion 🙂

  9. Erin Said,

    July 23, 2009 @ 12:17 pm

    Huh, prepared ingredients aren’t usually AB’s thing, he seems to make everything from scratch! I watched an episode recently where he made his own corn tortillas then used them in all sorts of stuff. I looked up the episode this recipe is from and he ground up his own chili powder too, so maybe he needed a break in the homemade department.

    Your version of the chili looks great!

  10. renae Said,

    July 23, 2009 @ 12:51 pm

    Erin, maybe the tortilla chips he called for in the recipe were those he made by frying his homemade corn tortillas!

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