Everyone has their own chilli recipe. Each formula is sacred. For many of us, finding The One involves years of practice, hundreds of accidentally-burned onions, and countless Google searches to determine why there’s a civil war over beans.

As a lazy vegetarian, I have spent a long time crafting my chilli. It’s something I prepare once a week, probably, providing myself at least four freezer-ready portions at a time. My colleagues frequently chastise me for heating it up at for lunch at 10.30am. I take this as a begrudging seal of approval.

Until now, I’ve only shared my tips with a handful of people. This is partially due to the “spicy stew sacred!” pablum I recited earlier, but mostly because few people truly gave a shit.

But, as we enter yet another week of pantry-gazing lockdowns, I have been encouraged to share a recipe which, truth be told, could probably accommodate any old cans you have lying around. Chickpeas? Champignon mushrooms? Water chestnuts? Fuck it, chilli time.

I hope this recipe brings you peace and comfort in these trying times. Please feel free to amend this as you fit: throw some Melbourne Hot Sauce in there, or cut the spice altogether. Use proper chipotles in adobo instead of BBQ sauce. Damn, if you simply must, put actual meat in there.

This is no longer my chilli. It is our chilli.

David’s Not-So-Secret Vegetarian Chilli

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes
Serves 4, or 2, if you really, really go for it.

Ingredients

Olive oil, for frying
1 large brown onion, finely diced
1 large red capsicum, finely diced
4-6 cloves garlic, minced
3 bird’s eye chilies, finely sliced (Seeds in? Seeds out? You decide!)

2 cans whole cherry tomatoes
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 can refried beans
150g vegetarian mince

1 cube vegetarian ‘chicken’ stock
2 tsp cumin powder
2 tsp smoked paprika
2 tbsp smoky BBQ sauce (You can add more than this. I usually do, but feel uncomfortable revealing how much, exactly)
Salt and pepper, to taste

Method

  1. In a large saucepan, bring olive oil to medium heat. Add onion, capsicum, and chilies, and sweat those puppies out. Make sure to keep that extractor fan on!
  2. Once the onion is golden brown and translucent, add the garlic and fry for a couple more minutes. Add the dry spices to the saucepan and stir.
  3. Being careful not to burn yourself, or anyone near you, pour both cans of tinned cherry tomatoes into the saucepan and stir.
  4. Add BBQ sauce and stock cube. Use your wooden spoon to break up the cube at the bottom of the pan (You could simply dissolve it in a small amount of water and add that in, but nobody will notice, trust me). Simmer for five minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Add black beans and cannelloni beans and stir. Scoop the can of refried beans into the saucepan and, you guessed it, stir.
  6. Add vegetarian mince. Stir. Let simmer for ten minutes or until desired consistency, stirring occasionally.
  7. Bang some salt and pepper in and serve with corn chips and sour cream, or cooked brown rice, or with scrambled eggs and a hash brown in the world’s best breakfast burrito.

My gift to you. Enjoy.

Image: iStock / Getty Images / Woolworths