Monday, October 17, 2011

Drunken Punkin' Chili!

I first published this recipe on Blogcritics as Drunken' Punkin' Chili.

I’m sneaky!  In the fall, I sneak pumpkin and butternut squash into everything possible!  I love the boost of fiber, flavor, color and vitamins that they impart to so many dishes.  Pumpkin is a wonderful addition to chili because the natural sweetness balances out the heat of the peppers and it thickens the chili beautifully!  Oh, and let’s not forget the beer!  While wine is a classic addition to many types of soup and stew, beer adds a really interesting flavor in the background.  I often use stout in beef stew, wheat beer in pork and cider with root vegetables, and lighter beers, like pilsner or lager, in many of my chili recipes. 

I made this dish to share with a vegetarian guest, so I opted to go meat-free with this version.  You could totally do it with ground turkey, turkey Italian sausage or even ground beef, and you could of course use chicken stock in lieu of the vegetable broth that I used.  Either way, it will be warming, rich, delicious, and spicy with amazingly complex flavors.  So good and easy enough to throw together between the kids’ soccer games on an autumn weekend.  Don’t be intimidated by the long list of ingredients – most are just spices and pantry staples that you probably already have.  Enjoy!

1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 jumbo sweet onion, diced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 red or yellow pepper, seeded and diced
2 poblano, jalapeno, or hatch peppers, seeded and diced
1 cup matchstick carrots, roughly chopped
2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 Tbsp ground cumin
2 tsp Mexican oregano
1 tsp coriander
½ tsp cinnamon
2 Tbsp chili powder
1 bottle of beer (preferably lager or pilsner)
1 pkg frozen meatless crumbles (like Morningstar Grillers)
1 (15 oz.) can pureed pumpkin
1 (15 oz) can fire-roasted canned tomatoes
3 cups low sodium vegetable broth
1 (15 oz) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15 oz) can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15 oz) pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup frozen sweet corn 
½ cup chopped cilantro
Cayenne or Chipotle Pepper to taste

Chop all your vegetables first and set aside.  In a large Dutch oven or stockpot, heat the oil over medium heat.  Add the onions, peppers and garlic and sauté until softened.  Add the carrots and meatless crumbles, and continue sautéing for a few minutes.  Now, add the salt and pepper, and all the spices.  Continue to stir and sauté to fully toast the spices.  Deglaze the pan with the beer.  Simmer for a few minutes, uncovered, while you tidy up the kitchen.  Now, add half of the vegetable broth and the canned tomatoes and canned pumpkin.  Stir well and continue to simmer, raising heat to medium high.  Bring to a boil and reduce the heat, adding all of the beans and corn.  Cover, and simmer for at least 5 more minutes.  Remove the lid and simmer, uncovered for 5 more minutes, adding the rest of the broth as needed.  Add the chopped cilantro and stir in just before serving.

Taste the chili and season as desired with additional salt, pepper, hot sauce, cayenne or chipotle pepper.  Garnish with additional chopped fresh cilantro, sliced green onions, sour cream or greek yogurt and grated cheese.  This reheats beautifully and makes a great stuffed baked potato the second night for leftovers!

If you do choose to use ground meat rather than the meatless crumbles, sauté the meat first in the olive oil until browned.  Remove most of the fat, then add all the vegetables and continue with the recipe as directed. 

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