On that first really cold fall weekend, where the chill in the air forces you to finally dig your padded winter slippers out of the back of your closet, there is just something so satisfying about making a big pot of chili.
Letting it simmer on the stove, filling the kitchen with a smoky-spicy-delicious aroma.
No matter what dusting or closet-organizing you have not managed to get around to that weekend, suddenly, you have the domesticity thing down.
You have a hearty, comforting, wonderful-smelling, heart-warming pot of delicious food on the stove.
Clearly, you know how to take care of your family.
Your house (or apartment or condo) is transformed into a home.
I love this particular chili recipe, I call it “Drunken Pumpkin Chili,” for a few reasons:
1.) Meat-and-Potatoes-Guy loves fall-flavored beers, including some pumpkin ales (they seem to be gaining in popularity, at least in New England). And pumpkin ale adds a lot of delicious flavor to this chili.
2.) There are tons of healthy ingredients in this recipe, including plenty of pumpkin, but you won’t even notice all that when you help yourself to a big bowl. It’s very hearty and savory and delicious and flavorful.
3.) There are enough fresh, plant-based ingredients in this dish that add so much flavor, so the ground beef in the recipe is completely optional. So this recipe is perfect if you’re looking for a vegan chili too, just skip the ground beef.
Here are all the key ingredients you’ll need to make your chili.
Begin by grabbing a few cloves of garlic.
Place your knife flat over a clove and smash down on the garlic, breaking apart the outer skin.
Peel off the skin and mince up the garlic clove.
Next, chop the end off of an onion and cut it in half lengthwise.
Peel off the skin and place one half flat-side-down on the cutting board for stability.
Then cut quarter-inch slices of onion.
Run your knife back through in the opposite direction, dicing the onion.
Grab a couple of carrots, and chop the ends off of the first one.
Cut the carrot in half lengthwise.
Place one half flat-side-down on the cutting board for stability and cut quarter-inch slices.
Then run your knife in the opposite direction, dicing the carrot.
Hold a yellow bell pepper on a cutting board so the stem faces upward.
Then make four cuts along each side of the stem, creating four quarters of pepper.
I love this method of chopping up a bell pepper because it makes it easy to remove and discard the stem and all the seeds.
Without a mess.
Dice up the pepper.
Use a wooden spoon to really break up the meat into small bits as it begins to heat up.
For the vegan version, just skip this step.
Immediately add all the veggies you just prepared.
Season with salt and pepper, and stir.
Cook until the meat is no longer pink and the veggies have softened.
Adjust the heat to medium.
Next, add a bay leaf and plenty of spices: cumin, oregano, cinnamon, and allspice.
Also add some tomato paste.
I love this tomato paste in a tube.
Just use what you need and then put the cap back on and store in the fridge – so convenient!
Next up: the pumpkin ale! (Isn’t this label great?)
The flavor of pumpkin ale is quite rich, with a bit of pumpkin and spice, and you’ll definitely taste a hint of it in the final chili.
Add the pumpkin ale to the chili and allow it to simmer for a few minutes, deglazing (using the liquid to remove any of the meat or veggies that stick to the bottom of the pan).
And now for the healthy stuff: add the pumpkin purée.
Pumpkin is a smart addition to chili because it adds creamy thickness, and just the slightest hint of pumpkin flavor to the final dish.
It also includes lots of beta carotene (shown to prevent heart disease, regulate blood sugar, and reduce symptoms of asthma and arthritis). Pumpkin also has tons of fiber, potassium, and antioxidants.
So healthy, I’m going to try to work pumpkin into more of my recipes.
Considering the name of my blog, how have I not done this yet?!
One last thing about the pumpkin: Just be sure you are using 100 percent pure pumpkin puree and not seasoned “pumpkin pie” purée!
Although, who knows, maybe that could also taste great.
If you try it, accidentally or on purpose, let me know your thoughts!
Also add some chopped tomatoes with their juices and stir to combine.
Add a bit of salt and pepper.
And now for the spicy part: the chipotle peppers.
I use chipotle peppers in adobo sauce because I like the rich, smoky flavor they add to the dish.
I use two peppers for a very mildly spicy chili.
I recommend using three or four if you prefer a spicier chili.
Just be sure to remove the seeds: Cut into the pepper and open it flat on the cutting board.
Then use your knife to scrape out all the seeds. (The seeds contain a ton of heat – too much for this chili).
Mince up the peppers and add to the pot.
Then stir the chili, partially cover the pot, and adjust the heat to low.
Next step: allow the chili to simmer on the stove for at least 45 minutes…
warming the kitchen…
filling the house with a delicious, fall pumkin-y, cinnamon-y, spicy aroma.
The longer the chili simmers, the better the flavor in the end.
But 45 minutes is usually the most I can manage before the delicious smells become too enticing.
Drain and thoroughly rinse a can of black beans, and add them to the pot.
If you’re doing a vegan version of this chili, also add a second type of bean as well, such as cannellini.
Season the chili to your taste with salt and pepper.
At this point, you can add an extra chipotle pepper if you want it hotter, or some additional cumin or cinnamon if you think it needs more spice.
Allow the black beans to cook for about 10-15 minutes, and your chili is ready to serve.
The flavors are rich and delicious.
It’s very savory and a little smoky and spicy from the chipotles in adobo.
And there is just a hint of pumpkin and cinnamon as well.
With the pumpkin and spices and fall beer, this chili would be perfect for a Halloween party.
Plus, it’s convenient because it can be prepared early in the day and the flavors just seem to increase and improve the longer it sits simmering on the stove.
I love to make this chili throughout the fall and winter though.
It’s one of those rare dishes that taste even better warmed up as leftovers the following day, so it’s great to make a big pot on the weekend and then heat up for weekday lunches.
And it’s packed with healthy ingredients, while still tasting so satisfying and flavorful.
The perfect combo.
Here is the complete recipe: