Roasted “Convention” Chili Recipe

It’s just a few short days til Marscon – our first convention of the year!

For some brilliant reason, I decided at the last minute that I should make a Klingon costume for the occasion. This was with a trip to Dallas looming, and – unknowbeknowst to us at the time – a bout of stomach flu on the way!

So much for having enough time – am racing like a madman to get everything done on time, which is NOT a common thing for me… being a logistics freak. I definitely prefer being prepared far in advance, and walking into a convention well rested for the weekend to come.

Part of the preparation for any convention we go to is figuring out the food situation, so we don’t end up paying a fortune for bad hotel food. This is especially important when one is under dietary restrictions for allergies.

As you may recall, last July we decided to create “Convention Sloppy Joes” as a way to ensure easy access to healthy proteins and veggies throughout the weekend.

It was perfect! Making it ahead and freezing it not only freed up time immediately before the convention, but also provided efficient “ice packs” for the cooler. We left it to simmer all day in a crockpot in our hotel room, so it was easy to go up and grab a bite to eat whenever we had a minute. (Well, realistically… whenever we started feeling gross from NOT eating, and could drag ourselves away from the fun!).

Best of all… it was the first convention we’ve been to where we did NOT get Con Crud. I’ve got to think that proper nutrition had a big hand in that!

We decided to go a bit of a different route this time, so I created a “Convention Chili” recipe. I just don’t want the hassle of dealing with crappy gluten-free buns, and really.. it’s been too long since I put on a pot of chili.

With this recipe, we decided to just go insane with the vitamin C. Red peppers are much higher in it than tomatoes are, after all. Sounds good, right? In reality, my husband just hates tomatoes, so red peppers are a great, healthy, and tasty way to make chili delicious for him, too. All that vitamin C can’t hurt, when facing down the possibility of con crud… especially during cold/flu season! The protein from the meats and beans, and all the fiber from the beans and veggies make this a really healthy food to live on for a weekend.

A few notes about this recipe:

– I created this recipe specifically to be made ahead and frozen, specifically for use in a slow cooker. See the end of the recipe for how to tweak this for immediate use – it would be great for a party!

– If you want to swap out types of pepper, swap the red peppers for tomatoes, add or subtract onion, etc… go nuts 🙂 It’s a very versatile recipe. Just try to keep the weights/volumes of substitution relatively similar to what it’s replacing.

– This is suitable for a wide range of dietary needs and allergies. It’s inherently gluten free, dairy free, etc.

– While you can peel the roasted peppers after broiling them if you want, we don’t. Too fussy, you lose some nutrition/flavour, and the texture isn’t noticeable in the final dish anyway.

– Red bell peppers can be expensive.. so we used canned. If you have access to a big-box discount store like Costco – you can get canned red peppers for much cheaper than fresh. Farmers markets can be another great option.

Roasted “Convention” Chili
Makes … a lot. Probably a gallon and a half?

2 poblano peppers, seeded and sliced into large chunks
4 green bell peppers, seeded and sliced into large chunks
5 jalapenos, halved (seeded if you choose)
2 large onions, peeled and sliced
Olive oil
3 lbs lean ground beef
2 lbs ground pork
6 stalks celery, sliced
2 lbs sliced mushrooms
5 carrots, peeled and grated
3 cans (~30oz each) tomato sauce
2 cans (~15oz each) light red kidney beans, drained
2 cans (~15oz each) dark red kidney beans, drained
2 cans (~15oz each) black beans, drained
10 cloves garlic, peeled and pressed/minced
6 lbs red bell peppers, seeded and chopped
2 cups beef broth
2 tsp black pepper (or to taste)
1 tsp salt (or to taste)
1 tsp+ smoked serrano powder*

Drizzle a broiler-safe pan with some olive olive, and arrange your poblano, bell, and jalapeno peppers on it, along with the onions. (This may take more than one batch to do!). Drizzle with a little more olive oil and broil under high heat until peppers are nicely roasted and blistering. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Once cool enough to handle, chop into small, bite sized pieces. Set aside.

Drizzle a little olive oil in a large pot, add ground beef and pork. Cook until browned, add celery and mushrooms. Continue cooking, stirring frequently, until celery is translucent and mushrooms have softened. Add carrots, tomato sauce, beans, garlic, and half of the red pepper. Stir well.

Puree remaining red peppers with beef broth, add to the pot. Continue cooking until everything is warmed up, season with salt, pepper, and smoked serrano powder, to taste. Simmer for 10 minutes, then remove from heat.

Cool to room temperature, transfer to freezer safe containers, and freeze until use.

To use:

– Thaw out (At a convention, place it in your bathroom sink in the morning when you’re done with it, fill with cool water)

– Around noon, transfer mixture to Crock Pot (doesn’t need to be fully thawed), heat on high for a few hours, stirring every hour or so (Good to coordinate this with roomies!)

– Once mixture cooks down to a nice thick consistency, turn heat down to low until serving. If mixture gets too thick, see if a vending machine has a bottle of V8, add a little to thin it out.

For immediate, non-CrockPot use:

Rather than removing mixture from heat after seasoning, turn heat down to medium and simmer until sauce cooks down to a nice thick consistency.

* We buy smoke serrano powder from a local homebrew supply store – Midwest Supplies. You can order it from them online HERE, or find it in specialty spice shops. Great stuff!

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