The Devious Vegetarian: “Drunken Soledad O’Brien” Stili (a stew/chili cross)

Behold: I am a devious vegetarian genius!

Continuing down the road to duping my meat-worshiping husband into becoming a vegetarian, I took a brilliant detour that led me to BoozeTown. As you may have figured out by now, I will gladly exploit John’s weaknesses in order to create a veg meal that suppresses his urge to make a face, is packed with protein and healthy ingredients, and that also helps him forget about his “meat deprivation.” That means that I have to chef up foods that are so delicious and satisfying that they blow his mind. With goals so lofty, can you blame me for playing dirty? I think not.

But I must admit, this stroke of culinary intelligence almost makes me feel like I’m cheating. The secret was to think of what John loves most in this world. The answer: beer. Not just any beer, but super strong IPA. I realized that if I could successfully combine beer with vegan ingredients, I might just create a masterpiece that he’ll not just love, but that he’ll actually ASK me to make him in the future. And thus, the “Drunken Soledad O’Brien Stili” was born.

Like it’s namesake, this Stili has a little bit of everything in it. Think of it as a cross between a chili, a stew and a pub. It’s got a spicy Cuban flair, hearty American microbrew beer, and some potatoes to satisfy John’s Irish stomach. By the way, what the heck ethnicity is Soledad O’Brien? Is she African American? Scottish? Hispanic? Lemurian? All of the above? My guess is that her beauty is in her funky blend, and the same holds true for this rich, delicious, beer-infused stili.

The carnivore verdict? One taste and John’s face lit up. With dancing eyebrows, he exclaimed: “Oh Mah Gawhd. This…is…awesome!” I hope you and your converting carnivore like it, too!

Time to table: about 45 minutes

Serves: 6 hungry people

2 tbsp olive oil

1 large yellow onion, finely chopped

1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped

4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 jalapeño pepper, chopped (with seeds)

1.5-2 lbs small, creamy-tasting potatoes, chopped into 1” cubes (such as Yukon Gold creamers or fingerling potatoes) (I used some misshapen Finn potatoes that I grew in our garden)

1 tsp smoked sea salt

freshly ground pepper

1 tbsp high quality chili powder

12 oz. microbrew dark beer (I used 21st Amendment’s “Back in Black IPA,” one of John’s’ faves.)

1 – 15 oz. can stewed tomatoes (I like Muir Glenn since it’s organic and has much more of an authentic tomatoey taste the other canned tomatoes)

3 – 15 oz. cans of beans (I used black beans, pinto and aduki, but really, you can use whichever are your favorites)

1 cup vegetable broth

1 tbsp chipotle sauce **

2-3 tbsp maple syrup

½ cup fresh cilantro, chopped

**(Chipotle sauce is super easy to make. Just buy a can of “chipotle peppers in adobo sauce” – in the Hispanic section of most grocery stores – and just blend the whole thing until it’s smooth. Wow, the flavor is smokey, deep, lush and delicious, and it adds so much to dishes like this. I like to freeze my leftover chipotle sauce in ice cube trays so that it’s easy to use in the future.)

In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook for three minutes, stirring frequently. Add red pepper, garlic and jalapeño and stir/cook until the onion is translucent. Add the potatoes and stir/cook for 3 minutes. Add the smoked sea salt, pepper and chili powder and stir well to fully coat ingredients. If you don’t have smoked sea salt, seriously, buy some – it adds so much depth of flavor! I buy mine from SpiceHound.com – I like the alderwood smoked sea salt. Note: it’s important that you add the salt before the beans. Why? Because salt stops beans from cooking and keeps them intact. If you don’t add it, the beans will turn to mush -blahkkk.

Add the beer and stir for a couple of minutes to boil off some of the alcohol. Add the tomatoes, beans and broth. Bring to a boil and allow to boil for about 5 minutes, stirring often to prevent the beans from scorching on the bottom of your pot. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 30 minutes or until the potatoes are tender, stirring often. Taste the chili as it cooks and you’ll see that the flavors deepen as it cooks. Once it’s almost ready to serve, add the chipotle and maple syrup, stirring well, and allow to cook for 5 minutes more. Then remove from heat, add cilantro. Serve with a couple of tortilla chips crumbled on top, and of course, beer or a margarita. Enjoy!

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Categories: Main dish, Recipes

Author:Cimeron

Cimeron Morrissey is an award-winning magazine writer who writes about her passions, which include travel, water sports, animal rescue and food.

Operation Carnivore Conversion

This is Operation Carnivore Conversion, an ambitious and potentially hazardous project to transform my meat-loving husband into a vegetarian. Recognizing that his diet was shared by Tyrannosauruses but not by humans who live very long, he has decided - reluctantly - to try to dramatically reduce his consumption of animal-based foods. The success of this project relies on my ability to serve inventive and tasty meals that would satisfy even a femur-gnawing caveman (and to prepare them in less than 30 minutes since I don't have much time). This is a high-risk endeavor. If my husband feels deprived or underwhelmed, he will see my arms as snack-shaped objects and/or whine me to death. Failure is not an option. Oh boy, here we go!

3 Comments on “The Devious Vegetarian: “Drunken Soledad O’Brien” Stili (a stew/chili cross)”

  1. January 14, 2012 at 6:01 pm #

    That sounds quite good! I would have never thought to cook with that particular beer. Tis one of my favorites.

    Cheers!
    G-LO

    • Cimeron
      January 14, 2012 at 7:25 pm #

      Thanks G-Lo! To be honest, I never thought to cook with Back in Black IPA before now either, but given that it’s one of my husband’s favorite beers, I figured it was worth a try. The end result is quite delicious since it’s such a flavorful beer! This recipe pleases both carnivores and vegans alike, which in our household, is quite a feat. If you try it, I hope you like it too!
      Cheers!
      Cimeron

  2. January 14, 2012 at 7:51 pm #

    Yummy! This sounds very delicious!

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