Crockpot Chili, Ropa Vieja Style

I adapted this recipe from the Ropa Vieja recipe in Robin Robertson’s cookbook The name “ropa vieja” translates as “old clothes”, referring to the texture of shredded meat in the traditional preparation of this dish, whose origins are traced to Sephardic Jewish kitchens in Cuba and Spain. Shredded seitan will give you that texture; I’ve also added red cabbage which will do the same thing, and you can add more of that if you’re not using seitan but still want to get a similar mouth-feel.

Traditionally this dish would include bell peppers; I can’t eat those, but if you can, go for it.

1 medium onion, chopped
12-15 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 cups red cabbage, thinly sliced
1-2 cups portabello mushroom, diced
olive oil (optional)
1 25oz can tomato sauce (any kind you like – I use Whole Foods brand Italian Herb)
1 Tbsp cumin
2 tsp oregano
1 tsp chili powder (I use Vulcan Fire Salt, which is an in-house blend from the Spice House in Chicago, but you can use any chili powder or no chili powder or…whatever you like)
1 tsp smoked paprika (I use smoked hot paprika; if you don’t like things as spicy as I do, you might used smoked sweet or just leave this out)
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp sugar
cilantro (to your liking)
salt (to taste)
1 15oz can black beans
1/2 cup vegetable broth or water
1lb seitan OR 1lb tofu OR another can of beans OR 1 cup soy curls or TVP (add an extra cup of water or veg broth if using dehydrated protein)
chopped greens — as much as you like, any kind (I usually use something hearty like kale or collards)
lime juice
nutritional yeast (optional)

Put the veggies in the crockpot. Drizzle olive oil over them if desired. Add all the other ingredients except the greens and nutritional yeast. Stir. Cook on low for 4-6hrs. Add greens, lime juice, and yeast. Taste for seasoning; adjust as needed. Cook on low for another 30 minutes. Serve with grain of your choice (I like brown basmati rice).

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