Why make chili in a sheet pan? Flavour
I love my sheet pans.
Just about every Sunday, I spend most of the afternoon rotating them in and out of my oven, as I roast vegetable after vegetable. I use those vegetables in various combinations and with various sauces and toppings in grain bowls, salads, pastas, soups, stews and more.
What I haven’t done with a sheet pan, at least not until recently, is make chili.
The recipe is in Raquel Pelzel’s latest cookbook, “Sheet Pan Suppers: Meatless” (Workman, 2017), the vegetarian followup to a popular book. I admire Pelzel’s work, and she makes a convincing case for the sheet pan as your friend when you want to get quick, satisfying meals on the table with minimal cleanup. But chili? I was curious whether such a wet dish would be more annoying than convenient to make on a sheet pan in the oven rather than in a saucepan on the stove top, so I tried it out.
This is not a set-it-and-forget-it type of recipe, and while I wouldn’t have thought twice about stirring the pot, adding ingredients or adjusting spices, I found it awkward to keep opening the oven, pulling out the sheet pan, doing what I needed to do and putting it back in.
After I added the liquids and covered the pan with foil for the final baking, it held the liquid just fine, but to avoid spilling I had to balance it and use a shovel-shaped spoon to scoop and turn the mixture without pushing it over the rimmed edges.
Still, I loved how roasting seemed to better concentrate the flavours of the onions and peppers, the spices, even the canned tomatoes, black beans and the veggie crumbles (I used crumbled tempeh instead).
The results spoke for themselves. And I did have the sense that the oven’s gentler heat made this method more forgiving, that if I had let it cook another 10 minutes or so, nothing would have scorched — and that’s not always the case on the stove top.
Sheet Pan Chili
We found that a shovel-type spatula with a flat edge works well for stirring and serving the chili in the pan. Veggie crumbles give this oven-roasted chili a hearty texture, but you can leave them out.
Serve with corn bread or tortilla chips, or spoon it over macaroni and cheese.
MAKES 6 TO 8 SERVINGS (8 CUPS)
1 medium red onion, finely chopped (1 cup) 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 1 teaspoon kosher salt, or more as needed ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper 2 medium red bell peppers, stemmed and seeded; 1 finely chopped, the other cut into ¾-inch pieces 2 medium green bell peppers, stemmed and seeded; 1 finely chopped, the other cut into ¾-inch pieces 2 cloves garlic, minced 1 tbsp chili powder 1 tsp ground cumin 1 tsp dried oregano ½ tsp Spanish smoked paprika (pimentón; sweet or hot) ¼ tsp ground cayenne pepper 26 ounces (3¼ cups) canned, no-salt-added chopped tomatoes and their juices About 11 ounces (3 cups) crumbled tempeh or veggie crumbles (optional) One 15-ounce can no-salt-added black beans or pinto beans, drained and rinsed 1 cup water ¼ cup finely chopped fresh cilantro Chopped avocado, for serving Thinly sliced scallions, for serving Shredded cheese, for serving (optional) Sour cream, for serving (optional)
Preheat the oven to 375 F. Toss the red onion with the oil, ½ teaspoon salt and the pepper on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast (middle rack) until the onion is soft and just starting to brown, about 12 minutes.
Add the finely chopped red and green bell peppers (reserve the ¾-inch pieces), the garlic, chili powder, cumin, oregano, smoked paprika and cayenne pepper. Stir to combine and cook until the peppers are soft, about 10 minutes.
Remove the baking sheet from the oven and add the tomatoes, tempeh or veggie crumbles, if using, the black beans, the ¾-inch bell pepper pieces, water and the remaining ½ teaspoon salt, stirring gently to incorporate.
Carefully cover the baking sheet with aluminum foil, crimping it loosely around the edges; it’s good to use oven mitts for this. Roast (middle rack) for about 45 minutes, stirring midway through the cooking, until the large pepper pieces are tender and the pan liquid has reduced somewhat. Taste and add more salt, as needed.
Divide among bowls; serve warm, topped with cilantro and serve with toppings of your choice.
Per serving (based on 8): 150 calories, 7 grams protein, 24 g carbohydrates, 4 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 0 milligrams cholesterol, 190 mg sodium, 8 g dietary fibre, 6 g sugar
The sheet pan is your friend when you want to get quick, satisfying meals on the table with minimal cleanup.