Showing posts with label Chili's. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Chili's. Show all posts

Oct 6, 2012

chili's make over

This is Take Two for the Chili's Make Over. Take One is here.

I won't rehash the fabulous casual dining experience that Chili's offers, but head right into the heart of the blog. 
The steak.

I have been wanting to recreate 'steak' ever since, well,... we went vegan. It hasn't been easy and I am not saying this is the end-all to the endeavor, but, damn, it's good! Chili's offers a Cajun Ribeye on their menu which has Cajun seasoning, au jus, and Cajun butter. It is served with mashed potatoes and veggies. I chose this as the first steak to make because it has other components that take the focus off the meat. This would make it more probable that the steak would taste like a steak. Not the steak, mind you, but a steak-like product.

This is seitan in its simplest form - basically vital wheat gluten, tamari, oil, stock and steak sauce. Steak sauce is vegan, ironically. The real secret is not in the gluten itself, but how it is prepared. After the gluten flour is mixed with the liquid it needs to sit for around 24 hours  6 hours. It is then rolled very thin (possible after all that sitting) and cooked low and slow, for about 2 hours. 

Now that the gluten has become a SteaK, it is grilled in a grill pan with a good bit of oil. Although most of the oil drips off into the grates, the oil is important because our seitan has practically no fat, but the flesh it mimics does. 

 Our Cajun SteaK is then topped with au jus and the Cajun butter. 
You WANT this. Really.
It is um-mazing. In fact, the family has informed me that we will be having this often. Even as I write, there is another batch sitting and waiting to be baked.

Onto the contest winner of Fresh From the Vegan Slow Cooker by Robin Robertson. generated result is comment #17, in2insight. Email me with your mailing address at veganaide (at) yahoo (dot) com.
Congrats! And everyone, thanks for entering. It really is an amazing slow cooker cookbook. I have her first one and this supreme! It is worth the cost of $11.32.

Cost Breakdown


gluten, oil: $2
stock, sauce, tamari: $4
Total to make 8 thin SteaKs:

Oct 1, 2012

chili's bar and grill make over

Happy World Vegetarian Day and First Day of MoFo VI.

This is my third year MoFoing!

Because MoFo kicked my posterior last year, or my perfectionism got the best of me, I decided to make MoFo less stressful this year by reducing the make overs I do for each establishment. So, instead of recreating three or four dishes per post, it'll be only one.

Last year's Chili's Grill and Bar Make Over involved Chili's Enchilada Soup, Grilled Caribbean Salad and Fajitas. This casual dining establishment serves American food with a Tex-Mex influence. While Chili's has recently added a vegetarian menu as an offering, it is still wholly non-vegan, and therefore is in need of a make over.

With that in mind, my first menu item is Chili's  Honey-Chipotle Chicken Crispers. I love chipotle peppers and the word "crispers" got me. In my opinion, "crispers" is just a way to disguise the word "fried," but their PR department people know their job and the term sounds decidedly appealing.

In this offering, the honey in the sauce, the egg in the batter and the chicken itself need to be replaced. 

Substituting maple syrup for the honey is an obvious choice, but the honey is much thicker than maple syrup and even sweeter, so adding only maple would not cut it. The restaurant thins out the honey with water, so I've eliminated this extra liquid. Maple syrup is also more complex in flavor, so to cut the extra flavor, I used agave nectar in addition to the maple.

The egg in the batter acts as a binding agent and is replaced with flax meal, which is nutritious to boot. The crispiness of the batter results from a doubling up on the breading technique: there is a liquid batter followed by a dry breading. 

As for the chicken, the obvious, and best, choice is my Simple Chicken Seitan. After the seitan is made and cooled, it is important to squeeze out the extra moisture. When the seitan is fried the moisture is turned to steam and renders the crust soggy. Once the extra moisture is eliminated, the fried seitan retains the crispy crust, while still remaining properly moist on the inside. 

The chain serves this as a main dish with corn on the cob and fries. 
They charge over $10 for one order. 
VA Make Over:

Cost Breakdown:

seitan: $3
batter and breading: $2
sauce: $1
corn on the cob: $3 
fries: $4
oil (for frying): $2
Total to make 4 servings:

Their charge per Serving: $10.29
Make-Over cost per Serving: $3.75

Also, don't forget to check back on the 6th to see if you've won Fresh From the Vegan Slow Cooker Cookbook by Robin Robertson.

Oct 6, 2011

chili's (MoFo 23)

Chili's was started in Dallas in 1975 as basically a hamburger place. It was bought by Norman Brinker in 1983, by which time it had expanded to thirty stores. After Norman acquired the place, he added Fajitas to the menu, a finger food of southwestern-marinated and grilled meats served sizzling on a cast-iron skillet. The meat and vegetables are arranged in a soft flour tortilla or corn tortilla, with the addition of pico de gallo, sour cream, cheese or guacamole. Most people have by now heard of or have eaten fajitas, thanks in large part to Chili's who made it part of our culture. 

I have made my fajitas with tofu, seitan and portobellos, but, really, any combination of delicious vegetables will work wonderfully, including squash, other mushrooms, cauliflower, broccoli and carrots. Skip potatoes in this. It is too starchy.

Along with burgers, fajitas, soups and pastas, salads are a large part of Chili's - in this generation, any way. One of their best selling salad is the Caribbean Salad, a melange of greens, onion, pineapple, dried cherries and Honey-Lime Dressing, topped with marinated, grilled meat. It isn't difficult at all to substitute the honey with maple syrup in the dressing and use grilled tofu or grilled seitan for the chicken. 

Lastly, I replicated their Chicken Enchilada Soup, which uses masa harina as the thickener and has a few ounces short of a ton of cheese. Substituting the chicken is easy - I used chickpeas, but omitting it totally is great as well, or using tofu cubes or seitan. As for the cheese, you need something creamy and tangy - I used Better Than Cream Cheese and Better Than Sour Cream. Not too much, but just enough to take it into Chili's realm. This was a winner by a mile and I encourage you to try it - it is super easy and quick - on top of being delicious.

Enchilada Soup

Caribbean Salad