Three-Bean Chili with Mixed Peppers and Nopales

It’s hard to believe that I didn’t get my fill of those big Texas flavors, but one of the first things I did on my return from Austin was whip up a big pot of chili.  
Actually, I’d had my fill of meat and was ready to experiment with a lighter version ― one with zesty chili flavors featuring grains, legumes, and more vegetables.
Yes, this zippy riff has plenty of vegetables and such, but I prefer not to call it ‘vegetarian’ chili since that label suggests an attempt to pass it off as a dreary substitute for the real thing.   
Instead, here tomatillos, cactus paddles, assorted chilies and peppers lend complexity and a definite piquant bite.   
 The generous combination of legumes, hominy, corn, and bulgur wheat offers plenty of supporting interest and satisfying texture.
Serve the chili over tortilla chips coated with melting cheddar and top it with crunchy Cilantro Cabbage Slaw mentioned in previous postings here.   
For added heat pull out a nice sampling of tasty Texas hot sauces. 
Of course have plenty of napkins on hand for dabbing any beaded brows…
Three-Bean Chili with Mixed Peppers and Nopales 
Source:  Inspired by Three-Bean Vegetable Chili from Soup Suppers by Arthur Schwartz
·         ¾ cup bulgur wheat, soaked in 1 ½ cup boiling water for 20 minutes, drained
·         2 tbsp vegetable oil
·         2 medium onions, chopped
·         4 cloves garlic
·         1 tsp dried oregano
·         2 tsp cumin
·         2-3 Tbsp chili powder
·         pinch cinnamon
·         1 Tbsp smoked paprika
·         ½ tsp. each salt and pepper
·         12 tomatillos, husked, diced
·         4 cups chicken stock or boiling water, approx., divided
·         14 oz. can diced tomatoes
·         2 poblano peppers, seed, chop
·         2 Anaheim peppers, “
·         4 jalapeno peppers, “
·         ½ tsp Worcestershire sauce
·         15 oz. can black eyed peas, drained
·         15 oz. can white beans, drained
·         15 oz. can hominy, rinsed and drained
·         1 – 2 Tbsp cornmeal diluted in
·         1/2 cup orange juice
·         2 ears corn, or 1-2 cups corn
·         1 cactus paddle with thorns removed, washed and scrubbed with a pot scrubber;  cut into cubes
Cilantro Cabbage Slaw (see recipe), corn tortillas, cheddar cheese
Soak the bulgur wheat and set it aside.
In a deep pot, sauté the onions and garlic in oil until softened, about 10 minutes.  Add the oregano, cumin, chili powder, smoked paprika, cinnamon and toss to blend flavors; season with salt and pepper.  Add the tomatillos, toss, and add stock or water to cover, about 2 cups.  Simmer approximately 20 minutes, or until tomatillos are soft and begin to fall apart.  Add the diced tomatoes and simmer gently an additional 15 minutes. Use a wooden spoon to further break down the tomatoes if necessary.
Stir in the chopped peppers, 1 cup stock or water, ½ tsp Worcestershire; simmer an additional 15 minutes to soften and develop flavor. 
Add the bulgur wheat, white beans, black eyed peas, hominy, orange juice and simmer an additional 10 to 15 minutes (to further, add the cornmeal if desired).  Add the corn and nopales and simmer 5 minutes.  Don’t overcook the cactus.  Adjust flavors. 
To serve, place a layer of tortilla chips with melting cheddar in shallow bowls; ladle on the chili and top with cilantro cabbage slaw.  Accompany with guacamole, salsas and additional chips.  Serves 8~~

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