Chilli is one of the best dishes with which to experiment – if an ingredient is dark, rich and flavourful, it can probably be put to good use in this classic American dish. Indeed, Stout Chilli was on our menu not so long ago and the intense, rich notes of the Bristol Beer Factory’s ‘Milk Stout’ resonated wonderfully with the meat. Vegetables, however, seem to work better with something lighter than stout, so it seemed only natural to develop a recipe for Golden Ale Vegetarian Chilli.
It’s not difficult to make a vegetarian chilli feel remarkably close to its meat-based counterpart – chilli con carne. A lentil here and a bay leaf there can easily be made to instil so much texture and flavour that you’ll never really notice the disappearance of your cow.
Any golden, pale or brown ale will work wonders here, though a brew as strong as stout would likely upset the balance of your chilli. In fact, rather than make recommendations about the flavour profile of your chosen ale, it seems a better idea to advise you to choose a beer you already enjoy. This way, your simple vegetarian chilli will be both delicious and personal to you.
Local connection: The South West is positively teeming with fantastic ale for you to sample. As mentioned before, the Bristol Beer Factory has a fairly comprehensive range of different and wonderful ales for you to peruse. However, Bath Ales also produce some really top-notch real ales, with Gem and Barnsey leading the way. New kids on the Bristol block, Wiper and True, should also be considered – I can personally attest to the deliciousness of their intriguing and flavoursome range of beer.
Golden Ale Vegetarian Chilli
• 15 dried red chillies, soaked overnight and roughly chopped
• 3 onions, roughly chopped
• 2 green peppers, roughly chopped
• 2 cloves of garlic, mashed
• 3 tbsp oil
• 4 bay leaves
• 3 tsp cumin, freshly ground
• 1 500ml bottle of golden or pale ale
• 20g dark chocolate
• 2 tins of plum or chopped tomatoes
• 1 tsp tomato puree
• A generous handful of red lentils
• 1 tin of kidney beans
• 1 tin of chickpeas
• 1 tsp of salt
1. Gently fry your chillies, onions, peppers and garlic in oil for around 10 minutes – set aside the water used to soak the chillies. Add the cumin and bay leaves and cook for a further 2-3 minutes.
2. Pour in the chilli water you set aside followed by the ale, chocolate, tomatoes, tomato purée and lentils. Cook for 1 hour to thicken before adding the kidney beans, chickpeas and salt. Serve with rice or flatbread.
Cost: Vegetarian chillies are always relatively expensive and even with the addition of a bottle of ale the entire dish should set you back no more than £4.