Saturday, August 18, 2012

A Camping We Did Go (Chili and Fritos!)

We just returned from a very quick camping trip to Kokanee Creek Provincial Park outside of Nelson, BC. The driving portion of the journey took over three hours each way and we did only stay overnight, but we were richly rewarded with lots of great time at the beach, awesome views of the brilliantly red spawning Kokanee salmon, and children who, for the most part, slept for the night! Actually, as far as I am concerned, an overnight camping trip is just about right for little ones (and their parents!).

For dinner last night we decided to have an easy dinner with minimal clean-up. We had the camping classic of chili and Fritos with a little twist. I added avocado, cheese, sour cream, and salsa as one would with a taco salad. It was quite good, particularly with the avocado. The salsa was kind of a non-entity as it was absorbed into the chili and did not retain its individal character.

The chili itself was yummy and very easy. In fact, I made it Thursday night after cleaning up the dinner dishes, which is some indication of its degree of difficulty. At that time of night I do not have patience for a lot of time in the kitchen. I made it with ground bison, which was very good, but you could make it with other meats or even with roasted tempeh. I used canned pre-cooked beans but you could cook your own beans. If you do that you will have to add additional liquid with the tomato paste mixture. Mole is the secret ingredient that makes it taste as if it has been simmering for hours.

I served refrigerator pickles on the side and they were a nice compliment. Here are the recipes:

Chili & Fritos, Taco-style
1/2 to 1 cup Fritos/person
1/2 to 1 cup chili/person
2 Tbsp shredded cheese or crumbled queso fresco/person
1 Tbsp sour cream/person
1 Tbsp salsa/person
1/4 cup cut up avocado/person

Make a layer of Fritos on the plate. Pour the chili over the top of the Fritos. Top with cheese, sour cream, salsa, and avocado. That is all.

VEGAN NOTES: Use vegan chili and omit the cheese and sour cream. Use additional avocado and possibly even olives in lieu of the cream and cheese. Vegan sour creams exist but I have not tried them. Here is a link to a recipe for homemade vegan sour cream. Regular Fritos are vegan but stay away from the flavored varieties.

GLUTEN NOTES: Regular Fritos are gluten free.

Easy, Fabulous Chili
1 lb ground meat or 1 package tempeh, steamed, marinaded, & roasted (see note below)
1 onion, chopped
1/2 tsp salt
2-3 cloves garlic, pressed
3 cans cooked beans with liquid (white & red look nice together)
1/4 to 1/3 cup mole paste
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1/4 cup brown sugar

Brown the meat in a saute pan over medium-high heat. Drain the fat if there is more than a teaspoon or two. Add the onion, garlic, and salt and cook until the aromatics (garlic and onion) are very fragrant, the excess liquid has evaporated, and the meat is starting to brown even more. Avoid burning by reducing the heat. This will take 10 to 15 minutes. Add the beans and their liquid and reduce temperature to medium. Smash the mole, tomato paste, and brown sugar together until combined and stir this into the beans. Continue to simmer the beans until the sauce is evenly distributed and the chili is uniformly hot.

VEGAN NOTES: Use marinaded, roasted tempeh in place of the sausage. Simmer a block of tempeh in boiling water for 10 minutes. Remove and crumble when it is just cool enough to handle. Meanwhile, make a marinade of 2 Tbsp soy sauce, 2 tsp liquid smoke, 1 Tbsp brown sugar, 1 tsp crushed fennel seeds, and 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes. Toss this with the warm crumbled tempeh and allow it to marinade for at least 15-30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 400-degrees and spread the tempeh crumbles on a baking sheet lined with parchment. Roast until the tempeh is crispy.

GLUTEN NOTES: My prepared mole (Dona Maria brand) contains crackers. My google search for gluten free mole produced a number of recipes for moles, but this begins to get into not so easy territory. Amazon carries a gluten-free mole (Barcelona brand). The Dona Maria mole is really quite solid out of the container and I do not know what the consistency of Barcelona is but if it is runny you may need to simmer the chili a little longer.

© Katherine C. Otterstrom, August 2012

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