Why make chili in a sheet pan? Flavour

The Hamilton Spectator - - FOOD - JOE YONAN

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

GORAN KOSANOVIC, FOR THE WASH­ING­TON POST

The sheet pan is your friend when you want to get quick, sat­is­fy­ing meals on the ta­ble with min­i­mal cleanup.

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