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JANUARY 25, 2007 8:45 PM

Moles and Noodles Take Home the Bronze Udder!
It was a close race, but at the end of the day the judges concurred that THE MICHIGAN topped the list of the fourteen chilis entered in this year's contest. Here's the skinny on how team extraVEGANza! worked their Michigan chili magic, rockin' some unlikely special ingredients (chocolate, coconut, coffee, and kale?!?) into the annals of vegan chili history.

Michigan Chili (Write-up by Moles)

I’ll try to remember what we put into the chili, but when Noodles and I started making this, almost anything would go – we just kept sautéing, pureeing, tasting and adding. Though we were inspired by a coffee chili recipe that Noodles discovered. I’ll try to give you the steps and approximate amounts (because we didn’t measure), but you’ll have to taste it as you go along and see what you like. We used 2 quarts of heirloom tomatoes that we canned this summer, which we thought made it extra special.

1. Boil in a medium saucepan:
1 large ginger root, peeled and sliced
5-6 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced
2 cups of water

Let this boil and reduce to about half. When reduced, remove the ginger and garlic and place in a food processor. Keep the water in the saucepan for later.

2. Meanwhile, heat in a large non-stick skillet:
1-2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tubs of China Rose tofu (about 2 lbs), drained, dried and crumbled
1-2 tablespoons Braggs liquid aminos
¼ cup nutritional yeast
½ - 1 teaspoon each cinnamon and cardamom

When the tofu gets browned, add:
1-2 teaspoons maple syrup

Saute until the maple syrup coats the tofu. Set aside.

3. Brew 4-6 cups strong coffee. Add to the tofu mixture.
Then add:
1-2 jalepenos, seeded and diced
15 sundried tomatoes, diced small

4. In a large stockpot or dutch oven, sauté 2-3 diced onions in 2 Tbsp oil
Saute until golden, then add:
8 oz mushrooms, sliced.
½ - 1 teaspoon each cinnamon, cardamom
1 tablespoon paprika

Saute until soft, then add:
3-4 cloves of garlic, minced

Cook until fragrant, then add the tofu/coffee mixture to the pot.

5. Take 2 quarts of canned tomatoes; drain and save juice from one.

Add the drained tomatoes and the second quart of tomatoes with their juice to the food processor in which you’ve place the ginger and garlic. Puree.

Add the puree to the ginger/garlic water and simmer.

When the mixture has simmered for about 15 minutes, add it to the stockpot.

6. Add to the chili:
2 cans black soybeans, drained
1 can black beans, drained

Let the chili simmer for about 1 hour, adding the reserved tomato juice (or vegetable broth) if necessary. Note: if you don’t use the reserved juice, save it for a vegan Bloody Mary (made with veg. Worcestershire) and drink it while you let the chili simmer.

7. Once the chili has simmered for a while...
We added the following “secret” ingredients and kept tasting it until it was to our liking:
Sciracha hot sauce
Unsweetened coconut flakes (about 1 ½ cups)
Maple syrup
Cocoa powder (we used Green & Black’s Maya Gold Cocoa powder)
Bragg’s Liquid Aminos

8. At the very end, we added a quart-sized bag of Trillium Haven kale from Noodles’ and Splinters’ freezer.

I think that’s it. I hope I didn’t leave anything out.

9. Presentation / Garnishes

We also made cornbread in 9x13 pans and cut out the state of Michigan with our Michigan and Upper Peninsula cookie cutters (thanks for those, Kelly!) and floated it on the top.

For garnishes:

Noodles combined:
1 tub of Wildwood unsweetened soy yogurt
1-2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh grated horseradish (ours had some beet juice added to it)
1 bunch cilantro, leaves trimmed and diced
Bragg’s and maple syrup to taste

We also sautéed some crumbled tempeh “fakin bacon” until crispy.