Tuesday, March 4, 2014

dinner tonight: nearly-meatless chili

Tonight I made nearly-meatless chili.  We couldn't figure out what to eat so we pulled out a bag of chili mix, Bear Creek "Darn Good" Chili, which turned out to be meatless.  Bob checked the freezer for ground beef. My choices were to defrost a 3 lb. package, use what I needed, and repackage what was left, or cook the 1/4 lb. of beef that was hanging around and add some textured vegetable protein (TVP) to the mix.  I chose to use the little bag of beef and add TVP to the pot.

A few weeks back I bought a bag of Bob's Red Mill TVP.  I've been trying to find ways to try new things and add more protein into my diet.  It's similar to tofu in that it takes on the flavor of whatever you cook it in. You just re-hydrate the chunks with some boiling water and then it's ready for use.  So I decided it should work well in chili:  it will thicken it up and the chili spices will cover up any weird taste (I wasn't sure what to expect).  I followed the directions to re-hydrate the chunks (1 cup dry TVP to 7/8 cup boiling water) and then added them to the chili to cook.

The result was pretty good.  I didn't notice any weird taste from the TVP.  It obviously didn't have the coloring or texture of beef, but it was a decent stand-in.  It definitely thickened the chili.  A lot.  And that was a good thing because this turned out to be a soupy chili mix.  I should have simmered it a little longer, though, because the dried beans in the mix didn't get soft enough.  They had a bit of bite to them.  I topped my serving with a little light sour cream.

Here's the general recipe:

  • Bear Creek "Darn Good" Chili Mix
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 1/4 lb ground beef
  • 1 cup dry TVP (re-hydrated to make about 2 cups)
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • sour cream for topping, or anything else you want

Brown the ground beef.  Re-hydrate the TVP.  Follow the directions on the chili mix package to make the chili, but add the TVP, onions, and beef when you mix the chili and tomato paste into the boiling water. Don't wait until the end like the directions suggest.  Makes 8 one-cup servings.

Nutritional information (my calculations, doesn't include the sour cream):  
Calories, 215; Fat, 2g; Protein, 22g, Carbs, 34g.

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