In the never-ending effort to create good, hearty comfort foods that are vegan, I thought I would combine two of the heartland's most prized recipes: chili and cornbread. I know this sounds entirely not-vegan by nature, but with the help of a standout meat substitute (soy chorizo) and by keeping the cornbread old-fashioned (sans eggs), what we have is a devilish casserole with the capability of making you a local celebrity.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
In a large bowl, combine the cornmeal, flour, and baking powder. Steadily whisk in the soy milk, vegetable oil, and maple syrup. Coat a large casserole dish with cooking spray and pour in 1/3 of the batter. Spread evenly. Place in the oven and half-bake the mixture, for about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, mix the soy chorizo, beans, corn, red bell pepper, tomato sauce, and spices.
Remove the half-baked cornbread from the oven, and add the chili mixture to the casserole dish. Pour the remaining cornbread batter over the chili and spread evenly. Drizzle melted butter across the top of the batter, if using.
Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, for 25-30 minutes.