Raise Dull Chili Peppers With Instant Espresso Powder

Several people came to me on Friday night for vegan chili. Vegan chili probably won’t be all that exciting unless you are vegan, and I could tell that some of my guests (other than the vegan) weren’t thrilled that I chose the meat-free and dairy-free option. (I provided the omnivores with sour cream and cheese, but they remained skeptical.)

However, everything changed as soon as they tried it. “It’s actually really good,” they whispered in a half-whisper and muttered in a quasi-apologetic tone. (Why did they doubt me, I don’t know!)

At least half of the credit goes to AA Newton’s Veggie Frito Pie recipe (which I used as a template, but with added red wine and additional tomatoes), but Trader Joe’s trademark soirizo, which is a very good artificial meat product. proved to be quite useful. a lot of hard work. When stewed with tomatoes, beans, onions and ro-body, it is almost identical to minced meat, at least in texture. However, the chili taste was too intense .

A good chili should have a dark hue – there should be a deep roast flavor that softens the fruity sweetness and acidity of the tomatoes. Umami is easy enough to add even to vegan dishes – just add a little glutamate – but crystallized glutamates don’t make up for the flavor deficiencies you usually get from Maillard reactions. Without these flavors, the chili taste just isn’t complete for me. The roasted meat did the job well, but it wasn’t on the table and the soirizo was too sticky to get a good amount of browning.

What, I wondered, as I looked around my pantry, could bring in those delicious aromas that Maillard reaction usually brings? I didn’t have enough time to burn the onions and started to panic, but then I saw this: a small jar of Medaglia D’oro espresso powder that had been in my pantry for at least six months. I added a teaspoon to my chili peppers, stirred until dissolved, and gave it a taste. There was an immediate noticeable improvement. I added some more, tried again and finally relaxed. The chili taste is over .

Even if your chili is not vegan or vegetarian, a little espresso powder or instant coffee can give it a deeper, darker, fuller flavor. You don’t need much, so proceed slowly – add a teaspoon or less at a time and stir until completely dissolved, tasting after each addition until it is done. If you finish it with cheese and sour cream, it’s up to you – you won’t need it, but chili is a dish where lily gilding is almost always welcome.

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