My own recipe for VEGETARIAN CHILI CON NOPALITOS
1.5 lbs. of store-bought prepared nopalitos (prickly pear cactus, with
the thorns removed, of course), cut into chunks of desired size
2 40-oz. cans of kidney beans, entire contents including liquid
2 medium or large onions, any kind, cut up into pieces of desired size (I've tried red onions with good results.)
1 lb. Anaheim chiles (peppers), cut up and stems removed
1 lb. yellow wax chiles (peppers), cut up and stems removed
3 1.25oz. packets of chili mix, your choice of brand
1 28oz. can of diced tomatoes
NOTE: The porportions of these ingredients are critical. Alteration of
any of the quantities will radically alter the flavor of the
resulting chili. These relative amounts are the product of trial
and error, and have been proven by taste test experience. Some possible
substitutions are further down.
I admit, this recipe is considerable work to prepare. I break this into numbered sections.
Start by putting the entire 1.5 lbs of nopalitos into a large pot, and
cover with ample water. Bring to a hard boil, and continue boiling for
10 minutes. Then strain, and put the nopalitos back into the empty pot.
Cover again with ample water, and repeat the above 10-minute boiling.
Strain again, and repeat for a third 10-minute boiling. Finally, strain
again. This boiling should be done (use a cooking timer) while doing
other steps, below. Note: The reason for the pre-boiling three times is
to rid the nopalitos of its slime, and to possibly tone down the flavor
a bit. It has its own distinctive flavor, as you should notice.
Dump the 2 40-oz. cans of kidney beans, liquid included, into a pot
large enough for all the ingredients. Put a fraction of an ounce of
water in the can and swirl in the can to pick of the gravy, and dump
into the pot. Do this once each with both cans.
NOTE: 3 29-oz. cans of kidney beans can be used instead, but it tends
to tone down the hotness and flavor a bit. I prefer to use 2 40-oz.
Also, dump the 28-oz. can of diced tomatoes into this large pot with
the beans. Do the same: Add a fraction of an ounce of water, and swirl
to pick up the residue, and dump into this pot, only once.
Peel the onions, one at a time, and cut them into the desired size
pieces. Then dump them into the large pot with the beans and tomatoes.
Wash the pound of Anaheim peppers. Remove the stems, and cut into
pieces. Dump the pieces into the large pot with the beans and tomatoes
NOTE: You may substitute pasilla peppers if you want. Sweet red peppers may also be substituted.
Wash the pound of yellow wax peppers, and prepare as above. Dump them into the pot with the beans, etc.
Dump the thrice-boiled nopalitos into the large pot with the beans, etc.
Dump all three packets of chili mix into the large pot with the beans, etc.
NOTE: I've used Great Value (mild) chili mix with good results. It is
available at Walmart. I've more recently used Watkins Gourmet chili
mix. Use whatever brand you prefer.
ADDITIONAL NOTE: The yellow peppers tend to add hotness, so if you
choose to use a chili mix marked HOT, you can expect the result to be a
SIGNIFICANT increase in hotness. Some people may not like it that hot.
Now, all the ingredients should be already in the large pot. Place it
on a burner on a stove. I recommend a moderate size fire, to avoid
scorching the bottom. It is even better to take one's time and
use a low fire, and cover it. Check and stir at least every 15 minutes.
It can take close to an hour to reach a full boil. Let it continue
boiling at least an addition 10 minutes once it reaches a hard boil.
Remember, stir often, to avoid scorching at the bottom of the pot.
You can eat it immediately, after it has finished cooking, but I think
the flavor improves if it sets overnight in the refrigerator. I let it
cool to the touch (hours), before putting it in the refrigerator. The
next day, the flavor will be at its best. Then, reheat a predetermined
fraction and serve. The pot is enough for quite a few one-person
servings. Of course, you can experiment with this recipe, to suit your
preferences. Also, if you find you dislike the flavor the nopalitos
(cactus) gives it, you can try to work out a substitute. A possibility
I haven't tried could be 1.5 pounds of VERY MILD peppers as the
substitute for the nopalitos. I find the flavor of the nopalitos
agreeable enough to continue using them.
I have made many batches using this approximate recipe, over some
months. I always have found the resulting consistency (amount of
liquid) to be what I'd consider perfect, if this is prepared exactly as
I've presented it, above. Don't be discouraged by the fact that,
initially, it may appear to have too little water. From experience, I
know that as the ingredients cook, it releases water, and the whole
ends up being a liquid (not stiff). Of course, you don't want to
overheat the pot or ingredients, or you could evaporate too much water,
adversely altering the consistency.
This recipe may be used, in cooking, and passed on in written form with
this notice, but I shall retain all intellectual property rights in
this recipe. I may one day have it published in a cook book. Yes, the
Jenny Live show and Miami TV may use this recipe on TV, and for
rebroadcast and online, etc., hopefully in their Naked Kitchen show,
but I request that they mention me by name, Steve Malinowski, and
mention also my website, stevenbray.com. (Steven Bray Dot Com) Thank
you. Also, if restaurants want to use this recipe, I request that they
name it as above, VEGETARIAN CHILI CON NOPALITOS, to allow it to become
known by that name, and also to NOT claim the recipe to be their own,
but to credit me with the recipe exclusively, if they care to say where
the recipe came from (IT'S ALL MINE).