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Actress, vegan food expert and bestselling cookbook author Tabitha Brown serves up hilarious food reviews and delicious recipes with a side of positivity, earning her the nickname "America's Mom." Just in time for football season, she shares a recipe for (meatless) chili carrot dogs from her new vegan cookbook, Cooking from the Spirit. Tabitha says you don't have to be vegan to enjoy this dish—or any of the others in her book—so give it a try. And don't worry about the lack of measurements. Follow Tabitha's instructions and trust yourself!
"Hot dogs are wrapped up in so many memories for me. My mama's second favorite thing to eat after potatoes was a hot dog loaded with chili and coleslaw and onion, the way we eat it in the South. There were those after school trips to Sealtest with my grandaddy where we'd get hot dogs if we weren't feeling like having cheeseburgers. And also around that time when I was a little girl, my best friend Toye and I used to go with her uncle to the furniture market in High Point, North Carolina, where we'd sell hot dogs to the shoppers. Later, when I was a teenager, my friends and I would go to this convenience store called Times Turnaround where for one dollar you could get two hot dogs (sometimes three, when they were doing a special). You know, we didn't have a lot of money, so we'd get them fully loaded with chili and onions and mustard and relish and a bag of chips, and that would be the meal. And honey, life was just so simple and amazing.
So, when I went vegan, I knew I had to find my new loaded hot dog, and I was telling myself that I gotta get this right, because I need it. But I was trying not to eat so much processed food, so the store-bought hot dogs weren't an option. Then people started asking me over and over if l'd seen online where you could turn a carrot into a hot dog. And it was one of only a handful of recipes that I ever got online, and of course I didn't follow the recipe exactly, honey. I made it my own. The natural next step was adding my pecan chili. And that's what I did, and baby, it's so good. Oh my gosh. And it's literally just vegetables. Now, if my mother ever saw this, I know she would laugh and say, 'Girl, no you ain't makin' no hot dog outta no carrot!' That makes me smile, just like so many of my memories from when l was a child and teenager. And sometimes that's what I think about when I have my chili dog, you know? Life can be simple and still so amazing. So enjoy that." —Tabitha
In a large Dutch oven or other pot (with a tight-fitting lid) wide enough to hold the carrots lengthwise, combine about 2 cups water and the coconut aminos. Add a few spoonfuls each of agave, A.1., and ketchup, some garlic powder, and a few drops of liquid smoke. Stir it up, then bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
Add your carrots to the boiling liquid. There should be just enough liquid to cover the carrots; add a bit of water, if necessary. Boil gently until the carrots have softened slightly and the liquid is slightly reduced, 10 to 15 minutes (add more water if necessary to keep the carrots covered). Cover the pot and simmer for about 10 more minutes, until the carrots are tender but still offer a little resistance when poked with a skewer or sharp knife. Use tongs to transfer the carrots to a platter, then pat them dry. Don't clean the pot yet—you're going to need that pot and the liquid in it for the chili, so just set it aside.
Heat a seasoned (or lightly oiled) cast-iron grill pan or skillet over medium-high heat. Brown the carrots on both sides. Transfer to a platter to keep warm.
Start your chili: Add 1 to 2 cups water to the liquid left in the pot and bring it to a boil, scraping the bottom and sides of the pot to loosen up any bits stuck there. Stir in the pecans and add more water if necessary so the nuts are covered with liquid. Boil gently, uncovered, for about 15 minutes, until the pecans are softened (add more water if necessary to keep the pecans covered).
Meanwhile, make the coleslaw: Put the cabbage in a large bowl and add a bit of mayonnaise, honey mustard, dressing, garlic powder, and pepper. Stir it up and you've got yourself a quick coleslaw. Taste to see what more seasonings it might need. Set it in the refrigerator until we're serving.
Drain the pecans and put them in a food processor. Process on high until chopped fine (the pecans should look like ground beef or turkey, but of course they're not).
Heat some grapeseed oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the ground pecans, mustard, agave, ketchup, chili powder, seasoning, and garlic powder. Stir it up to combine. Cook stirring, until heated through, 3 to 4 minutes.
Build your chili dogs: Put a carrot dog in each bun. Top each with some coleslaw, chili, chopped onions (if you want some), ketchup, mustard, and relish. Now we say a prayer, "OOHHH, GOD, WE THANK YOU," and get on into these chili carrot dogs.
Excerpted from Cooking from the Spirit by Tabitha Brown. Copyright © 2022 by Tabitha Brown. Used with permission by William Morrow Cookbooks. All rights reserved.