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Thursday, October 2, 2014

Pumpkin Spiced Chili

I craved a hearty chili for several weeks before making this. Normally I'm not a huge fan of beans, but this year I'm liking them more and more. I considered making this dish completely vegetarian, but a true chili recipe has to include a meat! Feel free to replace this with ground turkey, chicken, tofu, pieces of pumpkin, sweet potato or butternut squash. I think it would still taste delicious, but it just perfectly hit the spot for us with ground beef. I served this with homemade pumpkin cornbread and it was a meal that no one complained about...which in a house with 3 little ones is a rare occurrence! They especially loved the idea of customizing their own bowls and got creative with their combinations.

Chili is even more flavorful the next day and this is a GREAT slow cooker recipe! After browning the onions, garlic and ground beef transfer to a slow cooker, add the rest of the ingredients and let it simmer on low for a couple hours while you go about your day knowing that magic is taking place in your kitchen ;) If you are reheating the next day add a little water to thin out the chili as the beans will have soaked up the extra liquid and the flavors will be quite intense.

Serves about 4

-1 tablespoon oil
-1 cup chopped onion (about half of a large onion)
-5 garlic cloves
-1 tablespoon cumin seeds
-1/2 pound ground beef (I used 98% lean)
-2 tablespoons chili powder
-1 tablespoon coriander
-1/2 tablespoon all spice
-1/2 tablespoon ground ginger
-1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice (a mixture of nutmeg, allspice, lemon peel, cloves and cinnamon)
-3 large tomatoes (or 1.5 cups canned tomato sauce)
-1 cup water (plus up to 1 cup more if your sauce is too thick)
-15 ounce can of cannellini beans (white kidney beans) drained and rinsed
-2 tablespoons pumpkin puree (optional...this adds more nutrition and gives the chili sauce a silky texture but is not critical for flavor)

Optional topping ideas
-Greek yogurt or sour cream
-shredded cheddar cheese
-diced tomato
-green onions
-corn chips

To make
Browning the onions and toasting the cumin seeds
-Heat a dutch oven (ceramic pot...or any other pot) for a few minutes until it gets hot. Add 1 tablespoon of oil and let it heat for about 30 seconds.
-Add onion and let it cook for about 2 minutes on medium high heat
-Using a food processor, pulverize the garlic and add to onions.
-Add cumin seeds and continue sauteing until the garlic and cumin seeds become fragrant and the onions are soft.
-Add ground beef, chili powder, coriander, all spice, ground ginger and pumpkin pie spice and cook meat for about 5 minutes. You don't want to over brown the beef. Just cook it until the juices run clear and don't break it up too finely as you cook it.
-Wash tomatoes and chop into 4 large chunks. Place in food processor and pulverize until they are saucy. Add the tomato puree to the ground beef. Place the cup of water in the food processor and swirl it around to get the remained tomato puree and bits of garlic, then add the water to the pot.
-Add the drained and rinsed can of cannellini beans to the meat and tomato mixture.
-Add the pumpkin puree and stir. Taste the chili and adjust the seasonings to your liking. This is a good time to add salt.
-Lower the heat, cover the pot and let your chili simmer for about 30 minutes or until the sauce is as thick as you like it and the beans and meat are soft.
-Top however you'd like and serve.
Pumpkin cornbread was the perfect side to soak up the chili sauce :)

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