Chili

A warm bowl of spicy chili on a cool autumn day is a sure-fire crowd pleaser, and cooking a stewpot on your stovetop all day fills the house with a delicious, savory aroma. This unique version combines a favorite harvest vegetable, pumpkin, with a classic chili recipe for a brand new fall treat that will warm you from the inside out.

Start with a fresh pie pumpkin for best results, and be sure to buy organic ingredients whenever you can.

Ingredients

1 small pie pumpkin (about 1 pound or more)

1 pound ground sirloin

1 white onion, chopped

1 green bell pepper, diced

2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and diced

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 pounds fresh tomatoes, diced

1 ½ cup tomato juice 

2 T chili powder

1 T cumin

1 t pumpkin pie spice (a mix of ginger, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice)

1 t salt or more to taste

½ t pepper or more to taste

Garnish

Shredded cheddar cheese

Sour cream or Greek yogurt

Sliced green onions or chives

Method

1. First, roast your pumpkin. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, then wash your pumpkin well and cut it in half. Scoop out the seeds with a metal spoon, then lay the pumpkin halves facedown in a large baking dish. Cover with 1/4” water and bake for 45-60 minutes, or until tender and easily pierced with a fork. Scoop out the insides, and discard the skin. Mash up the pumpkin flesh with a fork, or puree in a blender if you prefer.

2. Now begin your chili. In a medium-sized saucepan, brown the ground sirloin and drain off any excess fat. Add the onions, garlic, bell peppers and jalapenos and cook for 5 minutes, or until the onions look translucent.

3. Transfer mixture to a large stew pot. Add the rest of your ingredients and spices (except the garnish), including your pumpkin meat. Stir well until everything is combined.

4. Cook as long as you would like – 30 minutes in a stewpot is enough if you are really hungry, but the longer you cook the chili, the more the flavors will develop. You can simmer this on the stovetop all day, 4-8 hours for best effect. Add salt and pepper to achieve your final flavor.

5. Top with cheese, sour cream and chives and serve with fresh cornbread for a fabulous fall experience.

Notes:

For a healthier version, substitute ground turkey for the red meat.

If you want more heat in your chili, leave in the jalapeno seeds.

Short on time? Use 1 can of diced tomatoes and 1 can of pumpkin puree instead of the fresh versions used in the recipe above.

Feeding a crowd? Add up to 2 pounds of cooked black or pinto beans to stretch out the recipe.

You can also use a slow cooker for this recipe. Simply cook for 6-8 hours on low heat or 4 hours on high.

Remember: Chili always tastes better the day after it was made. Enjoy another bowl or use the chili to make burritos, enchiladas or tamale pie.

Image: thebittenword.com