Black Bean, Butternut and Bulgur Chili

I’m about as far from a vegetarian as a person can get. I love meat…and not just a hamburger, though they can be divine, but also the nasty bits. I love the nasty bits. And yet, I’m looking at this blog and, man, there are a lot of veggie dishes on here!

The thing is, I really do cook vegetarian most of the time. I go out for my pork belly and sweetbreads and steaks, but most of my meals at home are meatless, with the exception of quite a lot of fish. I think it’s that I save the “splurges” for when I’m out and that, since I’m cooking for just me, I need to make things I won’t get sick of, that are pretty good for me. Cuz, you know, I’m the only one eating them and 5 days of beef would not only make my cholesterol angry, but would also get super heavy and boring.

I think that some people hear vegetarian and pictures of steamed broccoli and tofu tumble through their heads. Those people need to get a grip, because vegetarian can be amazing. This chili for instance? Knock your socks of bold. I made this for the superbowl this year, and though I had a hunch that it would be good, I just really had no idea how good. This is one of those meatless dishes that no one, and I mean no one, will complain about. It’s substantial enough to satisfy any meat eater; the bulgur gives it a “meaty” texture and I’m honestly not sure if anyone  would even notice that there’s no animal in here. The chipotles and chili powder add a serious, serious smokey heat that the sweet butternut squash cuts nicely.

I have a confession to make. My version of this isn’t entirely veg. I may have added chicken broth; I usually do. Regardless, the bones of this meal are all vegetarian and I think the final product is so flavorful that you could absolutely use water and not lose a thing. For me, one of the bonuses was another use for that bag of bulgur that’s been lingering in my cabinet for months; I like tabouleh, but apparently not that much. At any rate, I think you should make this…very soon. You needed to know about this recipe, but I’m feeling a little bad about neglecting my true love, meat, on here. I think I’ll make a point of cooking some non-vegetarian food this weekend. My blog needs it.

Black Bean, Butternut and Bulgur Chili

Adapted from Bon Appétit. Serves 8.

The original recipe calls for dried beans. I used canned because 1) I’m crazy-impatient and 2) I sometimes have trouble with dried beans, but mostly 1) I’m crazy-impatient. It was perfect. As mentioned above, I subbed a can of chicken broth for 2 cups of water; it turned out really well, but I think you could skip it if you want. You can serve it with any traditional chili accoutrements, but make sure you don’t skip the sour cream (ahem, greek yogurt). This keeps very very well in the fridge, but doesn’t freeze very well (blame the squash).

1 1/2 T olive oil
2 onions, chopped
8 garlic cloves, chopped
2  T chili powder
1 T ground coriander
2 14.5-oz cans fire-roasted tomatoes
3 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
2 chipotle chiles in adobo, minced
2 t dried oregano (preferably Mexican, but I used Greek)
1, 2 1/4 lb butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/2 ” cubes (about 3 c)
1/2 c quick-cooking bulgur
  • In a large, heavy pot over medium, heat olive oil. Add the onions and cook until they start to brown
  • Add the garlic, chili powder and coriander and cook one minute, stirring
  • Add tomatoes with their juice, drained beans, chipotles, oregano and 5 cups water
  • Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer with lid on, but slightly askew, for 30-40 minutes
  • Add the bulgur and squash. If chili seems dry, add more water and continue to simmer over medium-low heat until the squash is tender (~30-45 min). Remember that your bulgur will be soaking up liquid so if your chili seems dry, add more water (I added about 2 more cups over the course of the cooking time)
  • Season with salt and pepper and serve with sour cream, red onion, cilantro, cheese etc.
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